The case for D.C.’s statehood isn’t just complete, it’s simple. Some 700,000 souls—more than live in Vermont or Wyoming, and most of them (for now) Black—live, work and pay taxes in the nation’s capital. For their labors, lives and taxes they get to have every single city ordinance subject to the mercies of Congress-creatures from America’s vast middle.
The case for D.C. statehood is so perfectly simple, in fact, that even the likes of Muriel Bowser can make it. “The disenfranchisement of Washingtonians,” Her Honor said before a Congressional panel last week, “is one of the remaining glaring civil rights issues of our time.”
Now who can argue with that? Not only is this authentic D.C. gibberish. It expresses a courage little—oh, prairie shit: One of the what glaring civil rights issues? One of the remaining what civil rights issues? One of the remaining glaring what?
Simplicity and simpletons
As the years have dragged on, the case for D.C. statehood has taken on a life of its own. An impressive number of conservative voices have signed on, while opponents increasingly look and talk like thumbs in shock wigs. Yet it’s worth noticing that even as the rest of the world accommodates itself to the complete, simple case for D.C. statehood, those who stand the most to gain from it can’t get out of their own way.
The reason for this is also complete, and simple. Muriel Bowser’s goal in testifying before Congress isn’t to win statehood for her stricken subjects. It’s to get on T.V. Her Honor will pay nearly any price, bear nearly any burden, if it means that someone, somewhere will somehow take her seriously.
If anything, the case for D.C. statehood is a threat to Muriel Bowser and to a whole horde of half-wit Mandarins—including but not limited to D.C.’s Dear, Saintly Eleanor Holmes Norton—who suddenly find themselves confronted with actual responsibility and who find that burden too much too bear.
Requiem for a heavyweight
It is objectively true not just that Eleanor Holmes Norton has made other people’s lives better but that she has made people’s lives possible. I do not exaggerate at all when I say that people are alive today who might otherwise be dead, or not even have been born, if not for the work that Holmes Norton did as a young lawyer for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in the Deep South.
It is also objectively true that journalism is a better profession because of the work that Eleanor Holmes Norton did on behalf of the “Good Girls” at Newsweek. If the labor seems parodically unfinished, it’s not Holmes Norton’s fault.
It is also, finally, objectively true that the good people of the District of Columbia have been paying Eleanor Holmes Norton since 1987 to get herself an actual job on the Hill. In this one task she has failed, Marx Brothers style, time and again. Part of the reason we don’t have D.C. statehood is because we’ve asked Eleanor Holmes Norton to get it for us.
I do not mean in any way to write in the condescending more sorrow than anger voice. Eleanor Holmes Norton has served enough for several lifetimes. But her last act—in which she has grifted and drifted for decades while squandering generations’ sacrifices for D.C. statehood—has been an embarrassment at best.
Muriel Bowser, of course, can only envy Norton Holmes’ level of D-list roastmanship. So to bide her time, Her Honor asks us to believe she’s eager to be governor of a “state” where the kids can’t drink the water or go to a school run by grown-ups, where it’s an open question whether the 911 dispatcher knows where they’re sending an ambulance and where the cops have hired more crooks than they’ve arrested? Girl, bye.
Civil rights, as someone should have taught Mayor Bowser long ago (and maybe someone ought to remind Eleanor Holmes Norton about now) aren’t bestowed, they’re asserted. If the case for D.C. statehood is complete and simple, the answer is equally complete and simple: We must shut this city down until Congress recognizes our rights. Unless and until then, we’re left to our devices, waiting for the the complete simpletons in charge to get the hell out of the way.