(From "themail" edited by Gary Imhoff, DCWatch.com's e-mail discusssion forum, Sept. 9, 2012)
Statehood at the Democratic National Convention
Timothy Cooper, email@example.com
Mr. Imhoff notes in the last issue [themail, September 5] that “there is one issue that the Democratic party thinks is too left-wing, too far out, too unpopular, to sell to the American people — statehood for the District of Columbia. That issue was dropped from the party platform.”
Not true. It wasn’t the Democratic National Party that dropped the word statehood from the platform language — it was our own congressional delegate — DC Delegate Norton. In fact, according to Ann Loikow, in 2011 the DC Democratic State Committee (DCDSC) had gotten the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to adopt its own statehood resolution, which was intended to serve as a basis for the 2012 party platform language. But evidently Norton stepped in in 2012 and knocked out the word “statehood” before the draft language was submitted to the DNC for consideration. She replaced it with equal voting rights language instead. Later, when it was reported that DC Mayor Gray and Delegate Norton sought to put the statehood language back in as a result of political pressure, it was too late to make the change. But this is not the first time DC Delegate Norton has undone statehood language at the national party platform level. She scrubbed any mention of it in 2008 and 2004 as well.
So the question begs itself: Why our own delegate? Because likely in her heart of hearts she may actually agree with Mr. Imhoff. Agree that the notion of statehood is “too far out, too unpopular, to sell to the American people.” But of course it’s pretty near next to impossible to sell any kind of political idea — statehood or otherwise — if you’re all over the map with your fundamental strategy. Which is what Norton is and has been. For a long, long time. One year statehood; another year equal congressional voting rights; yet another year a single vote in the House of Representatives; and now in another year, we’re back to equal voting rights and budget autonomy, and oh yes, what about statehood, too?
One can only hope that the day will finally come when the good delegate sticks with a longer-term strategy, if not shrewder tactics, to achieve equal DC rights, instead of hop-scotching from one to another as decades roll by, without achieving measurable success. Either that or perhaps one day another delegate, who truly believes in DC statehood and is willing to stand against unseasonable winds to promote it, will rise to take her place.