I voted early this year with my daughter. When voting for president I let her hold the pen as I held her hand to fill in the oval for President but when I flipped the ballot over to vote for statehood I selfishly filled in the oval myself while her holding my other hand. I voted for statehood for myself, my family, my neighbors, and for my beloved city-state. I voted for statehood knowing that this vote alone will not make us a state but if we get overwhelming support for this vote it help us send a powerful message to Congress and the nation. I voted for statehood for the first time to express my desire to be treated fairly and equally in American democracy.
I was born and raised in DC and I’m now raising a family here but my involvement in the statehood movement had been superficial at best until five years ago. When President Obama and Speaker Boehner used the District’s right to spend our own local dollars the way we want (“John, I’ll give you DC abortion but I’m not happy about it”) I realized that statehood is the only way to both set us free from congressional intrusion and manipulation while also granting us full and equal democratic rights.
This vote this year will not make us a state but it will send a powerful message to those around the country who can make us a state. This vote will send a clear message to Congress that above all else we in the District are not just declaring our desire to be a state but our intent to be a state. This vote will also send a message to the people of the nation to let them know what our preferred status is.
I voted for statehood not as a static action but as a commitment to help lend a hand in fulfilling the ultimate potential of this referendum. This vote is a tool that we need to strategically use in building a movement to create the political will nationally to make statehood a reality. If we all vote for statehood and then do nothing to follow-up on it then nothing will happen, our status will not change. But if we all vote for statehood and then use this expression of our democratic intent to educate our family and friends in the 50 states about what we want and how they can help us then this vote will have both meaning and power. If we use this vote and take it up the Hill to show members of Congress what we want our status to be then this vote will have both meaning and power.
While I hope we all vote for statehood as a part of a larger strategy and commitment to be a part of that strategy I encourage everyone at the very minimum to vote for statehood for very selfish reasons. I voted for statehood because I believe that I deserve equal political rights. I voted selfishly because I believe my children deserve equal political rights. And I voted selfishly because I believe my neighbors deserve to be treated fairly and equally in American democracy.
Please vote Yes on Referendum B and help send a message about our intent to be full partners in American democracy via statehood.