Jonetta Rose Barras penned a column on July 12th, 2012 in the Washington Examiner detailing her reasons why she feels Mayor Vincent C. Gray should resign. After detailing the disheartening and appalling recent history of corruption in the District she closes her column with a whooper of a statement by saying “if Gray doesn’t step down, Congress should remove him.” WTF! might be the most appropriate and concise response to this but I’ll go on. Maybe she’s channeling her inner Rand Paul or inner Trent Franks because it seems as if she’s asking for Congress to recklessly impose its undemocratic will on us. Her thought process is sadly anti-democratic and is of a colonial mindset that is part of the thinking that keeps us from becoming a better city and dare I say a better state.
The Constitution states that ‘government derives its power from the consent of the people.’ We didn’t elect Congress so why should Ms. Barras be running to them asking them to clean up our mess. Not only is it a violation of the principles around Home Rule it would further undercut our long-term effort toward statehood. While she states that she doesn’t want the District to go through a costly recall and instead Congress should remove the mayor she seems to miss the point about our system of government. We have systems in place and which are on-going to seek out corruption and illegal behavior and hold people accountable…and quite frankly Ron Machen has an impressive record thus far.
In a time when we just learned that our last mayoral election was ‘compromised’ and corrupted the answer should not be to follow an even more anti-democratic path to make amends. We have a process and system in place, it’s uncomfortable at times, it’s lengthy at times, and it’s costly at times but it’s our system of democratic governance. If we want to be full and equal partners in American democracy, we can’t act like school children and run to our Mommy (aka. Congress) and ask them to serve as prosecutor, judge, and jury to remove the Mayor.
Asking Congress to remove a Mayor, let alone one not even charged or convicted of a crime, is the type of thinking that is an embarrassment to those of us who believe in democratic systems and processes. It’s an embarrassment to those of us that believe we should be on equal democratic footing as the 50 states. And it’s an embarrassment to those of us who might not be happy with our government but are willing to do the hard work to make it more open, honest, transparent, and democratic.
Let’s work together to perfect a democratic government for the District that openly and honestly derives its power from the consent of the people. Let’s honor, value, and respect a system of checks and balances that hold people accountable for their actions. Let’s be advocates and pioneers to complete the American democratic experiment and become the 51st State. And that’s nothing to be embarrassed about.