GOP Senator Apparently Unaware People Actually Born And Raised In Washington DC
Sen. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) does not want the District of Columbia to become a state, no he does not! And in a hearing held by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Tuesday, he laid out his very sound logic on why it's perfectly reasonable for the 689,000 people who live in the District to go without meaningful representation in Congress. Basically, it boils down to "DC has never had representation in Congress, so that's how it goes."
But the details get pretty darn goofy, particularly when Lankford starts talking about the people who actually live in DC. He seems to think maybe they're all lobbyists, legislators, journalists, and others who "move to" DC, so they know what they're in for.
We honestly couldn't make sense of the first bit, where Lankford was talking with an expert about some imaginary "59 electors" who would be able to have two senators and a member of the House all to themselves, but we're fairly sure that's a thought experiment of some kind.
Then he moved on to the dubious claim that the founders absolutely never intended the federal district to become a state, insisting the original intent was that the "federal government does not exist under the authority of any state, or try to interact with the state," which seems to ignore that there actually is a pretty sizeable population there, somehow.
He also noted that DC isn't even big enough to be a state, and that it's "literally one-tenth of the size of my hometown of Oklahoma City, which is a fun little distortion. He must mean land area, since METRO Oklahoma City's population -- you know, including the suburbs -- was 989,000 in 2020, just 300,000 people more than live in DC. (The city itself is more like 669,000.) So by that standard, perhaps both Dakotas, Alaska, Vermont, and Wyoming should lose representation.
But really, what it comes down to, Lankford says, is that if people choose to "move to" DC, they already know it has no representation in the Senate, and only a non-voting member of Congress.
It's been well known that when you move to Washington, D.C., at any point, you're moving to an area that doesn't have two senators or a House member. [...]
People have options to be able to still work and to be able to travel and to be able to move into other areas if they wanted to be able to work in Washington, D.C.
Many people live in Maryland or in Virginia or in West Virginia, and drive in to be able to be here from longer distances. But that's a volitional choice; no one's compelled to actually be here, knowing that that's been the situation for more than 200 years.
Oddly, nobody at that point raised a hand and pointed out that not everyone living in Washington DC moved there to work. In fact, there's a pretty substantial number of people whose families have been in DC for generations, and who never go anywhere near the Capitol, for some reason.
Lankford seemed wholly unaware of those folks, for some reason, as if they were Invisible Men and Women. It's true that, if they want to exercise all the rights of their fellow citizens, they aren't compelled to stay in the city where they were born. They could always fly in to their hometown when Congress is in session, we suppose.
Maybe what Lankford is getting at here is that if you choose to be born in a city that has no representation, you should have thought about that beforehand. Also, don't you dare suggest he's a racist, or at least blinded by white privilege, for treating DC residents as nonexistent, since that would be very divisive of you, you critical race theorist.
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