Swamp Within A Swamp

Most U.S. license plates feature some sort of tourism hype, like “Sportsman’s Paradise” or “The Greatest Snow on Earth.” In Washington, D.C., the plates say: “End Taxation Without Representation.”

That’s supposed to make tourists, slowly trickling back into the city, feel sorry for the poor unrepresented citizens who live here. It shouldn’t.

D.C. license plates are propaganda for an unconstitutional and increasingly violent power grab by the Democratic Party. For years, the aim has been to make the nation’s capital the 51st state, giving the party two permanent votes in the Senate and one in the House of Representatives. Seventy-five percent of Washington’s registered voters are Democrats.

But in the Age of Trump, the statehood drive has become decidedly more militant. The protest-verb “End” was added to “Taxation Without Representation” when Donald Trump was inaugurated president. Reviving a favorite 1960s-ism, Democrats seized the opportunity to cast Washington as the Last Plantation and Trump its evil overseer.

The president has nothing to do with governing the city. The U.S. Constitution designed Washington not to be a state or even a city in the normal sense, but a unique piece of real estate under the exclusive control of Congress “in all cases whatsoever.” The idea was to locate the capital in a place between Maryland and Virginia, a compromise between the North and South, where the federal government could conduct its business free of interference from any state.

Yes, Washingtonians pay federal and local taxes. As for representation, nearly 50 years ago Congress granted the city (then 71 percent African-American) a limited form of home rule. Since then, residents have had an elected mayor and city council, as well as an elected non-voting delegate in the House.

Staged to accommodate the anarchy inflicted on Washington and other cities run by Democrats, D.C.’s latest push for recognition as a state officially began a week ago. The Democratic House, in a party-line vote, passed a statehood measure, sending it to the Republican Senate, where nothing more will happen.  But don’t expect the issue to go away.

Antifa and Black Lives Matter couldn’t care less about what happens on Capitol Hill. With Trump in the White House everything about the city, especially its name, sends them into a frenzied rage.

The nation’s capital is called Washington, D.C. (for District of Columbia) to honor George Washington and Christopher Columbus. Lately Marxist mobs have torn down statues of both men, with encouragement from Democratic lawmakers, governors, and mayors.

“I’m with the protesters,” said Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton, Washington’s non-voting delegate to Congress since 1991.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, also a Democrat, ordered “Black Lives Matter” painted in 30-foot yellow letters covering two blocks of 16th Street just north of the White House. Bowser and other local politicians, all Democrats, have used the trashing of America’s Founders as slave owners—and therefore men incapable of justice, fairness or even common decency—to frame statehood as a racial issue.

Local politics in Washington has always been about race. Late Mayor Marion Barry, whose three terms in city hall were interrupted by a term in prison, blamed his 1990 cocaine conviction on a racist conspiracy. For years, aspiring D.C. politicians ran for office campaigning against “The Plan,” a fictitious plot by Washington’s white minority to take back the city.

Maryland and Virginia both contributed land to create the new nation’s capital in the late 18th century. Virginia reclaimed its contribution of Arlington and Alexandria in the 1840s. If the real issue today were full voting representation in Congress for the citizens of Washington, a deal could probably be struck to cede its original contribution of land back to Maryland and the problem would be solved.

But D.C.’s swamp-within-a swamp political establishment would never trade the benefits afforded by the Last Plantation for being just another county in Maryland. Only statehood, accompanied by the likely demand for reparations, will do . . . for now.

City politicos see the D.C. government, with its bloated bureaucracy and annual multi-billion-dollar federal payment, as their own fiefdom-cum-business. Which may explain why, as Washington’s African-American population continues to decline (it stood at 44 percent in 2019), the statehood campaign has gotten angrier and more destructive; mirroring what’s going on in the streets.

Take the recent attempt to topple the Emancipation Memorial in Lincoln Park, not far from the U.S. Capitol Building. Statehood activists and their history-challenged allies only see it as a reminder of white oppression.

The memorial, dedicated in 1876, was paid for entirely by former slaves—the very people Abraham Lincoln gave his life to free. It depicts the 16th president urging a freed slave to rise up from servitude.

What it became was the point in the current upheaval where enough was enough.

Pro-statehood community organizer Glenn Foster told cheering blacks and whites, some carrying “51st State” signs: “This statue right here embodies the white supremacy and the disempowerment of black people that is forced upon us by white people . . . . That’s why we are tearing this motherfucker down.”

It was clear the city would not be providing police protection.

On the appointed day, however, the plan fizzled when the White House sent a contingent of U.S. Park Police to guard the memorial, protected by a newly installed 10-foot fence.

Earlier President Trump, visibly fuming, had signed an executive order authorizing the arrest and prosecution of anyone who vandalized a monument or statue on federal property. Lincoln Park is federal property. The FBI had already apprehended dozens of vandals for damaging memorials around the country and across the street from the White House, and was looking for more.

With the stakes suddenly raised, Foster was no longer talking about tearing anything down but instead having a conversation about race and statehood. Before a turnout of hundreds, a few decked out in street-fighting regalia, several brave Washington residents took up the offer.

One speaker schooled the monument breakers in history that teachers’ unions abandoned long ago.

“You don’t even know the history of this statue,” he shouted, mocking their ignorance. “But you want to tear it down because you’re offended.”

By the time he was finished the “elder,” as one Black Lives Matter protester called him, had hijacked the rally. Confronted with a few facts and a show of force the community organizer and most of the crowd soon departed.

Whatever they were supposed to be, this bunch of misled losers was no advertisement for statehood.

So Trump-deranged was this mob that it never occurred to anyone in the movement, from the mayor on down, that associating the noble desire for self-rule with the cancel culture may not be the best PR for life inside the would-be state of D.C.

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About Bill Thomas

Bill Thomas is the author of Club Fed: Power, Money Sex and Violence on Capitol Hill as well as other books, and the co-author of Red Tape: Adventure Capitalism in the New Russia. He is also a former editor and writer with The Economist Group.

Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

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