December 05th, 2023
L&T Opinions Page

earl 2020 mug colorL&T Publisher Earl Watt


The way the Washington, District of Columbia operates, we all have ownership in it, and none of us do.

Confusing, I know, but very important.

The Founding Fathers wrestled with the issue of where to place the federal government, and many clamored to have the capital in their state.

Of course none of the other states would agree to having the nation’s capital inside any one state.

The notion of such a thing was preposterous. If one state had complete control of the federal government, they would have too much authority over the other states.

They knew that the nation’s capital in this experiment of a republic would have to be devoid of statehood altogether, and so they created the 10-mile zone known as the District of Columbia, neutral ground where a variety of opposing views and issues could be debated. If the capital were a state, it tilt the scales for the positions it would take on these various issues, and its state government could make life difficult for those trying to represent the federal issues.

The ground of the District of Columbia could never be a state or part of a state. It had to remain neutral ground and its governance represented by the entire Congress, making it basically the property of each and every state, and at the state time, beholden to no state.

It was another reflection of the genius of the Founding Fathers who wanted to keep federal authority limited and working for the best interests of all states and all people.

It comes as no surprise, as is typically the case, that government tends to like more of itself, and so those wanting the federal government to be more intrusive and more involved have flocked to the nation’s capital to lobby for more government.

And in many cases over the past 230 years, the government has expanded itself, filling the 10-mile square with more federal buildings and federal employees who depend on large federal government for their livelihood.

Those who agree with larger government are now trying to push for statehood for the 10-mile District of Columbia.

The reason is obvious. Those wanting big government would receive two U.S. Senators, but the shared ownership and neutrality of the District of Columbia would be gone.

Those who choose to live in the District are doing so to serve the nation as a whole, not any one particular state, and they know they are in an autonomous zone regulated by rules established by Congress. In a way, they live in every state and no state, and that is the price we have to pay to have a neutral district as the seat of federal government.

No one state, or even as a state of its own, should have control of the federal government. Each state has to have a hand in the federal district.

Anyone can see this for what it is, a power grab to create two more liberal senators, and the same argument could be made in the 1790s when states clamored for control of the federal government.

No state, no political view and no political party should unilaterally control the federal seat of government.

Either every state has ownership in the federal government, or only one does.

By advocating for statehood for the District of Columbia, it virtually erases statehood across the nation in having a neutral federal seat of government. It is partisan, and it should be rejected.