Stephanie Dragoi, '24
More than a year of navigating a pandemic that has transformed our routines, expectations, and even our sense of time has revealed those unexpectedly essential and meaningful aspects of our lives that we too often take for granted. High on the list of aspects of pre-pandemic life for which many have yearned for is travel. According to a study from Hilton, about 95 percent of Americans have missed traveling during the pandemic, and though many restrictions are being relaxed, it will be a while before travel, particularly overseas, is feasible for many Americans.
Though the experience of visiting a new country and being immersed in its culture cannot quite be replicated, residents of D.C. can certainly come close. As the capital of the nation, D.C. is home to 177 embassies of countries around the world. This year, on Saturday, October 16, many embassies around the city will host cultural activities and offer food and drinks as part of D.C.’s free annual Around the World Embassy Tour.
Passport D.C. events were first created thirteen years ago by the Cultural Tourism D.C. organization to celebrate the variety of multicultural experiences that converge in the city. Every year, over 70 embassies from 6 continents open their doors to the public to showcase what makes their country unique.
Whether you are interested in food, fashion, art, or history, the Embassy Tour offers something for everyone. In the past, activities have ranged from traditional dance performances to cheese samplings to sari wrapping lessons and more! Embassies also have fascinating information tables and detailed exhibits about their history, culture, and politics, as well as interactive workshops, demonstrations, and talks. Most participating embassies are located either on Embassy Row or International Drive, so you can park or Uber and spend a day exploring the world.
Satisfying a desire for travel is not the only reason events like the Embassy Tour are valuable. Experiencing other cultures brings greater global understanding, helps minimize stereotypes, and overcomes division. Americans are notoriously globally unaware—in a 2016 National Geographic study, a pool of American college-educated individuals aged 18-26 answered only 55% of questions on a global literacy survey correctly.
Cultural awareness is particularly important in a city like Washington, D.C., which is at the center of modern globalization. Though D.C. is full of beautiful and fascinating museums highlighting American history and culture, it is an international city. D.C. is the only US city that offers embassy open houses, so the Embassy Tour is truly a unique way to increase one’s understanding of the world and global affairs.
Delicious cuisine, captivating performances, fascinating demonstrations, and a more profound appreciation for international cultures await!
Matthew Merril, '22
From Michelin Stars to humble hole-in-the-walls, the greater D.C. area is home to some of the best food in the country. D.C., being a beautifully diverse city, is home to many people of many different cultures. Culture and food are directly interlaced, cuisine being a form of art and expression of the unique flavors that a group of people have to offer. The blend of every imaginable culture culminating in one spot can be a bit overwhelming, so here is a comprehensive breakdown of the food culture in the area.
World-renowned chef José Andrés (who came to speak at STA!) received a Michelin star, the highest accolade a restaurant can attain, for his restaurant “minibar.” Listed as an “avant-garde tasting experience,” the restaurant exemplifies the emergence of many high-brow status restaurants in the area, like The Inn at Little Washington, Pineapple and Pearls, and Métier.
While laden with luxurious eating experiences, D.C. is home to much more. In a town rich with history, restaurants such as Ben’s Chili Bowl have served as a staple of not only dining, but also culture. Residing in the U Street Corridor, the restaurant has housed great Jazz musicians including Duke Ellington and Nat King Cole, being known in the area as “Black Broadway” in the 1950’s. The restaurant became even more intertwined with the history of the city during the April 1968 riots which followed the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., when the restaurant stayed open past curfew, feeding firefighters. It’s restaurants like Ben’s that enrich D.C. with their fascinating history and remind us of the significance of the city in the story of the nation.
It is a story of immigration as well as riots, of people from all walks seeking new life in the home of the free. The wide range of people in the DMV has resulted in a wealth of foods: Black-owned, Latino, Halal and Asian-fusion are just a few of the styles of cuisine that have forged the local food scene. David Chang’s varied-menu chain Momofuku, which includes Momofuku CCDC in D.C., was lauded as “the most important restaurant in America” by Bon Appetit magazine, a testament to the potential that food has in local culture, feeding us both physically and spiritually. Kith/Kin is another standout, serving Afro-Caribbean cuisine on the Wharf. Founder Kwame Onwuachi sought to revolutionize the way African cuisine was perceived, which is exactly what he did by publishing a memoir about being a young black chef, along with earning the highly coveted James Beard award. This selection of restaurants represents D.C.’s many unique and authentic takes on ethnic cuisines.
For our last course, the dessert scene in the DMV has created quite a bit of buzz with the city’s ability to match the current trends. In 2008, two sisters decided to open a quaint cupcake shop (which at the time was an uncommon dessert to invest in), and it instantly became a world-wide phenomenon. The bakery, known as Georgetown Cupcakes, put DC on the map for anyone with a sweet tooth, thanks to the TLC reality show titled “DC Cupcakes.” The Georgetown Cupcakes model—opening one central boutique bakery before franchising the bakery out, while still keeping the novel appeal—became an inspiration for many bakeries in the area. Two such bakeries currently dominating the industry are Levain Bakery and Crumbl Cookies. Levain, a Brooklyn-based bakery, is notorious for their absurdly thick cookies, having become a viral sensation on the internet. Their approach is simple, but extremely effective. With only a few locations (New York, Georgetown, and Bethesda) the cookies are elusive, making the demand so much higher. Meanwhile, Crumbl Cookies, building off of their own internet success, has found success in digital marketing. Crumbl has also taken the route of expanding as far as possible (a whopping 215 stores and counting!), and releasing new, limited edition flavors every week, compelling customers to visit the store every week in hopes that they won’t miss the next best. With many locations in Virginia and Maryland, the stores have definitely introduced a new taste into the food scene of the DMV.
Food is built on culture as much as culture is built on food. D.C. offers some of the best of both in the nation. Enjoy it!
Image from Ben’s Chili Bowl.
Evan Virtue, '25
Washington, DC contains hundreds of cultures that shape its residents’ lives. In our corner of the District, there are a multitude of places where different customs are embraced and shared. If you take a trip down Massachusetts Avenue, you can see the many embassies, an Islamic Center, and even a Sikh Gurdawa. This is only a small glimpse into the wide array of cultures in Washington.
In other parts of the District, one can find festivals and celebrations of all kinds. Among the most popular cultural celebrations are the Chinese New Year, Cherry Blossom Festival, and Fiesta DC. All of these events help to promote and highlight the traditions and heritage of our neighbors in the District, but sometimes the best display of cultures can come from observing what is not formally presented. The many music venues in Washington such as The Anthem or the 9:30 Club display some of the most popular music in the world; however, you can experience go-go music, the official music of Washington, DC, at smaller joints such as DC Gogo. Furthermore, PorchFest DC, starting on October 2, features local musicians from throughout the District playing on the porches of the houses in Adams Morgan and Southeast DC. These are a few examples of how one can get the ultimate cultural experience from a small place off the beaten path.
The scores of people that inhabit DC are the true bearers of the culture. Whether it is talking with a friend about their traditions or learning about certain lifestyles, the best way to learn about culture in DC is engaging with people who bring their gifts to the District and are open to sharing their history. When people from all different identities come together, they want to have their voice heard and their culture recognized.
It is safe to say that Washington, DC is a fusion of many different cultures. There are people from all walks of life everywhere, including St. Albans. With the high level of diversity in Washington, it is inevitable that St. Albans is a gathering place for cultural exploration and expression. Students from around the District and the world attend St. Albans and bring their cultures to the very halls in which we walk. Since St. Albans is a junction of many backgrounds, it is important for those in the community to recognize and learn about cultures different than their own.
St. Albans works with its students to have their voices heard and their cultures and traditions recognized. Whether through learning about different religious holidays in Chapel or embracing our differences in alliance groups, the students at St. Albans become informed about the backgrounds of all students. The first step to being an ally and building community is becoming educated. By attending the local festivals in the District or going to alliance meetings at school, you can gain helpful knowledge that is not only fascinating, but which will help you be a better friend and ally. The District has so much to offer, and it is up to you to go out and explore.
Since March, 2020, all schools have been trying their best to make decisions that are safe and healthy for students, as well as maintain their level of education. The beginning of this school year marked the first time since then that there has been any sense of unity across the board. Although there are differences between DC, Maryland, and Virginia public and private schools in regards to COVID guidelines, overall student life looks much more similar between schools than it did last year, when many different online and hybrid plans were in effect.
For example, we all comply with the standard restrictions including indoor masks, three feet social distancing, deep cleaning, and air filtration systems. Most schools, additionally, are planning to have regular COVID-19 testing. Excitingly, the MAC, ISL, IAC, Montgomery and Arlington County public school athletics, and most other leagues have also returned this fall and will have a full season; a large boon of the high vaccination rates and usually outdoor nature of fall sports. Despite these similarities, some private schools have more agency to employ more requirements for coming back to school this year.
The primary difference in schools’ reopening plans is vaccine requirements; this is mainly divided between public and private schools. Vaccine requirements present themselves in different ways in schools depending on the states. For example: teachers at NCS, Sidwell, Holton, and other private schools in the area have been required to be fully vaccinated since last year, as have all DCPS faculty. In contrast, Montgomery County Public School teachers have the choice to opt out of the vaccine and choose to be tested weekly instead. Similarly, some private schools such as Landon, Maret, or Georgetown Day School, are requiring students over the age of 12 to be fully vaccinated before they can attend school, but DCPS and Montgomery County Public Schools cannot demand vaccinations for students due to state regulations. Aside from government instruction, private schools have differed in large group gathering policies.
Currently, there are many differences around policies regarding large gatherings sponsored by the schools. Maret has cancelled their Homecoming dance because of concerns about COVID, whereas most other schools, such as NCS, St. Albans, and Wilson, are adapting their usual dances in order to maintain games, pep rallies, and dances. There are even differences between the schools on the close. For example, NCS’ Upper School Back to School Night was virtual, whereas St. Albans held its in-person, but with modifications: only one parent allowed per student. The most drastic difference, however, is between the size of public and private schools, and COVID policies due to this contrast.
Private schools, with smaller communities, are testing all students and faculty on a weekly basis. In DCPS and charter schools, they are aiming to test ten percent of students on a regular basis, but are falling short of that goal. Likewise, NCS has not yet had cases that are publicized whereas DCPS has unfortunately had approximately 350 student and staff cases since the start of the school year. Despite these numbers, every school’s main goal, regardless of state, is to maintain a healthy community and create a safe space for healthy learning.
Despite small differences, the overall similarities and enthusiasm towards returning to school, bringing back sports, and other extracurriculars is very heartening after a long year of separation. Bonding as communities is more important than ever, and despite differences, all schools in the DMV are thrilled to be back in their learning communities.
Image from Izusek/Getty Images/The BBC
Maryam Mohseni, '24
Before the pandemic D.C. was one of the most visited cities in the country. As the nation's capital, the city is home to some of the most iconic sights in the country. Yearly, it draws tourists for a multitude of reasons; D.C. is even home to an incredible food scene, largely due to the city's diverse community. Much of D.C.’s economy has relied on such tourism as a main source of revenue, meaning it was largely impacted by the lack of travel induced by pandemic guidelines.
However, the pandemic has taken a huge toll on tourism in the city. Before the pandemic, the city had experienced ten consecutive years of significant visitation growth, welcoming about 24.6 million visitors in 2019 alone. In 2020 the city received a mere 11 million visitors, down 53% from the previous year, as the pandemic stymied all travel. As interstate travel was banned, and D.C. declared a state of emergency, restaurants, hotels, and other businesses shut their doors. Additionally, museums and other cultural institutions closed. The Smithsonian museums, which are arguably the most well-known to tourists in D.C., received funding from the federal government. The dozens of private museums also in the city, however, do not have that luxury. Instead, they rely on admission fees, gift shop sales, and donations. Many of them are now facing short- and long-term financial struggles due to the lack of business during COVID; they lost over a year's worth of admission fees, and a season's worth of fundraising events and special programming was canceled. Although many museums shifted to online tours and programs, they barely brought in any revenue. Overall, visitor spending in the district decreased by 68%, or $6.1 billion, from March, 2020 to March, 2021. Not only were tourism scenes in the city negatively affected, but also businesses that rely entirely on housing those traveling through D.C.
The decrease in tourism also heavily affected the employment in the leisure and hospitality industry. 42,000 of the jobs lost in the district were in leisure and hospitality. That is 59% of all jobs lost to the pandemic last year. Despite these setbacks, the D.C community is doing its best to support local businesses and enterprises while slowly returning to pre pandemic life.
Now the city is launching a campaign aiming to bring back visitors to the city and boost employment rates at bars, restaurants, nightclubs, sports arenas, and other attractions. In May, mayor Muriel Browser announced that travel and hospitality are a top priority for recovery. She and hospitality leaders touted a $2.5 million marketing and advertising campaign that strives to bring back visitors who stayed away during the pandemic, in hopes that visitors will revive the industry and bring back tourism and hospitality jobs. Elliott Ferguson, President, and CEO of Destination DC, a nonprofit organization that focuses on economic development tied to visitors coming to the city, said a big focus will be on vaccinations. As vaccination rates for adults rose, D.C. government officials lifted restrictions on businesses and ended the state of emergency, signaling that D.C. was ready to welcome tourists back.
Destination DC expects that by 2022, the district will be receiving about 80% of the domestic tourists it did in 2019. However, international travelers are not expected to return till 2024. Although all visitors are crucial to the district's tourism industry, international visitors are especially important because they have a greater economic impact as they tend to stay longer and spend more.
Until international travel rebounds, D.C.’s tourism industry will not be able to fully recover. In the meantime, businesses, museums, and other affected industries must learn to adjust to the new pandemic normal. As residents of such a unique district, we should be mindful in the upcoming year of the losses due to the lack of tourism by mindfully supporting small businesses, local restaurants, independent museums, and other gems of D.C. in order to help preserve the diverse spectacle of activities and attractions that exist in the nation’s capital.
Bella Guagenti, '24
In the bustling city of D.C., transportation is a fundamental need. All actions taken throughout the day require somewhat of a commute, whether it is close by and reachable by walk or bike, or farther, requiring a bus or metro ride or a drive in the car. In August 2021, the price of used vehicles in the U.S. increased by 0.2 percent compared to July 2021, and prices are up 40 percent from 2020. These price increases, coupled with having to regularly pay for gas and even repairs, are simply unsustainable for low-income families. Unfortunately, for many of these same families, their communities have limited access to public transportation, thereby limiting easy access to jobs, food, and healthcare.
While there are many positives regarding public transportation—it creates approximately fifty thousand jobs for every one billion dollars invested, it is ten times safer to travel per mile than in a personal car, it saves the U.S. six billion gallons of gasoline annually, and it saves 93 percent of money spent on transportation (which is sixteen cents of every dollar earned)—it is also majorly inaccessible. In the U.S., about 47 percent of the population does not have access to public transportation. In D.C., 179,692 out of 332,367 commuters surveyed reported utilizing public transportation as opposed to taxis, carpooling, or driving. However, the locations of bus and metro stops are disproportionately in higher income areas of D.C. For example, on a map of metro stops in all of D.C., only five compared to over twenty-five stops are in Anacostia (not including Metro stations on state borders), and bus routes are much less abundant in low-income areas. If these cost-effective, eco-friendly transportation solutions cannot be utilized by all, is public transportation really public?
There really is no correct answer at the moment, as public transportation in D.C. is rapidly changing to accommodate new regulations regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. In June 2021, Metro board members announced an official decrease in fares which became active around Labor Day in order to incentivize the use of public transportation again. This decision to lower fare costs is accompanied by decreased wait times, increased hours of service, and the removal of bus and metro transfer fees, creating a more financially available and efficient public transportation system. A goal of these changes is to encourage travel equality since, according to a Metro study, the majority of Metrorail riders have higher incomes, while most Metrobus riders are lower income. By slowly equalizing the fare, low-income citizens are encouraged to utilize the Metrorail system.
Even though the current solution is not perfect, the actions taken by the Metro board are a huge step in the right direction in supporting low-income citizens in need of affordable transportation. With increased access to transportation, and therefore increased ease of access to healthcare, employment, and food, a decrease in the ever-growing socio-economic gap would not be unexpected. Public transportation is truly an opportunity to support the environmental wellbeing and safety of our D.C. community, as well as assisting low-income communities.
Lauren Lucy Caddell, '23
For most people during the pandemic, going back to eating at restaurants was right alongside dreams of eventually being able to see friends – and the bottom halves of each other’s faces. After too many months to count of practicing new recipes out of boredom and eating takeout food five days in a row, restaurants are finally bustling again, both inside and out, but is the opportunity to go out for meals again worth the mounting safety challenges?
Out of everything in the news right now, the last thing we’re looking for is information about the slow process of making restaurants safe in a world barely related to the one we left behind a year and a half ago. However, in many cities, the topic of public hubs such as these is an indicator of their level of safety restrictions. Governments have experimented with every possible adjustment: outdoor seating, mask mandates, restricted capacity, and most recently, individual proof of vaccination. Of all these, the latter has generated the most controversy.
The idea of having proof of covid vaccination is not exactly new, given that the vaccine has now been available to all but the youngest members of the population for some months now. However, most of the time proving you’ve received the shot is only used for major events or hotspots where the disease can easily spread, such as airplane flights and concerts. It’s only in the past few weeks that the idea of proving vaccination has spread to everyday activities such as going to the gym, entering a movie theater, or going out to eat. It seems a little absurd that the only way you can get into a restaurant nowadays is by showing a flimsy paper that can be mixed up with our study notecards. Although online options now theoretically exist as well, restaurants accept vaccine cards as the most common form of proof.
D.C. is still relatively behind in its proof of vaccine mandates compared to cities like New York, which has made indoor safety a priority due to their sheer numbers of covid cases. Mayor Bill de Blasio recently imposed a vaccine mandate known as the “Key to NYC Pass” requiring restaurants to ask proof from all customers who are eligible for the vaccine – every person over the age of 12 – before allowing them to dine indoors. Covid is spread more easily indoors, and without masks the danger is higher of even just one infected customer spreading virus particles through an entire restaurant. According to a D.C. food magazine, approximately 14 percent of all covid cases are spread or contracted in restaurants. However, the answer is not as simple as requiring us to bring our vaccine cards with us wherever we go. In any situation with no clear solution, there will always be objections, and in this case, resistance sometimes goes as far as physical violence. Many New York restaurants have reported customers refusing to show their cards, arguing that proof of vaccination is unnecessary, and sometimes even pushing or assaulting employees who request to check them. Some attacks have been so bad that the perpetrators have landed in jail and their victims in hospitals.
Although many safety regulations are unpleasant for all parties involved, new compromises must be made in a world where going out to dinner can be hazardous to those at risk. Until checking for vaccinations becomes easier and the number of cases falls, it is much more efficient to cooperate with these new laws as the DMV follows in the footsteps of cities with more developed covid-response protocols. Additionally, many restaurants may not be able to handle another blow to business like the first pandemic wave, when people could barely pass others on the street, let alone go out for meals. After many people received the vaccine in the spring, dining industry sales rose from thirty to seventy billion dollars between June 2020 and 2021. The specifics of making restaurants safe continue to change, but some rules must be followed for the sake of keeping restaurants open for dining – and out of the covid transmission chain.
Image from Associated Press/Marcio Jose Sanchez
Jack Marino, '23
DC statehood is purported to give congressional representation to the seven hundred thousand people living in the district who currently only have representation in presidential elections. Additionally, the proposal would free up the DC government to decide its own policy without the approval of the federal government, allowing the city to implement sweeping changes without being slowed down by the federal approval process. The current proposal in the House of Representatives advocates for the federal district to be shrunk into a small area comprising the national mall, the White House and a few other buildings, while the rest of the District of Columbia will be accepted into the Union as a state known as the State of Washington D.C. (Douglass Commonwealth). The debate about DC statehood primarily centers around the two additional democratic senators the State of Washington DC would bring to the senate, rather than philosophical arguments about whether DC should be a state. For the purpose of this argument, I will focus on the philosophical reasons why DC shouldn’t be a state rather than the political reasons.
First, DC statehood is unconstitutional. The constitution states that a “District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of Government of the United States” (Article 1, Section 8). The constitution guarantees that the seat of government is an area independent from the influence of states, thereby separating the federal government from state governments. Although many would argue that the framers never expected the District of Columbia to become a city of seven hundred thousand people, federal control over DC prevents the elite political class in the Capital from gaining control of state elections which would thereby give them control over crucial parts of the federal government like the Supreme Court. Allowing the Federal Government to self-regulate the seat of its power would prevent undue influence of the state government of DC from influencing the federal legal process. Knowing DC would be the most partisan state ever if admitted into the Union, the state legislature could not be trusted to ensure the fairness of the federal legal process for both parties. This was the exact argument that the framers made in their decision to keep DC under federal control. James Madison, the author of the constitution commented that “the public authority might be insulted and its proceedings interrupted with impunity” if the seat of federal power fell under state control. Therefore, DC statehood would not only require a constitutional amendment, but also would require Maryland to cede the land that makes up the federal district to the creation of a new state. DC statehood violates the constitution both in writing and in philosophy by going against the separation of state and federal power envisioned by the Founding Fathers.
Second, the DC statehood proposal has various inconsistencies that would hurt the effectiveness of the city and the federal democratic process. The DC statehood proposal shrinks the federal District of Columbia significantly, but the district would still maintain three electoral votes in presidential elections. These votes would likely be decided solely by elected representatives and members of government, who would be the only people living there. Besides the obvious effect of supporting incumbents in power, the three additional electoral votes allotted to the much smaller federal district would help keep a single party in power for a longer period of time. By creating a state in a body of land never intended to be a state without a constitutional amendment, the DC statehood proposal creates a variety of technical challenges due to the contradictory nature of the process of creating a new state in DC while maintaining Federal control over key government institutions. To combat these technical challenges within DC, there is reasonable evidence to suggest that the city of DC will suffer from a lack of federal funding for its programs. The federal government spent $275 million on the maintenance of DC’s court system in 2016, and continues to spend money on maintaining key landmarks and locations in the city such as rock creek park and the Washington Monument. This money would have to come from the state of DC at the expense of benefits and social programs for the city’s citizens.
One possible solution that has a constitutional precedent and gives representation to the citizens of Washington DC is retrocession to Maryland. In the 1840s, the area of land across the Potomac River that currently makes up Arlington and some of Alexandria was ceded from Washington DC back to Virginia because residents “felt neglected by the power base across the river” (1). The same could be done with the rest of DC (except for the National Mall and other important federal buildings) returning to Maryland. Unlike current proposals for DC statehood (which only 33% of Americans supported in 2019), retrocession has the potential to gain national appeal. Retrocession would grant residents of DC the representation, while maintaining the delicate balance of power in the senate and is a solution supported by many Republican opponents of DC statehood such as Susan Collins of Maine. Since retrocession has the potential to gain bipartisan support, amending the constitution to fix the technical challenges of redrawing the federal district’s boundaries could be possible. Plus, why wouldn’t DC residents want to join the greatest state in the history of the United States?
Teddy Palmore, '23
Washington, DC has about 693,000 residents. Two states have smaller populations, but this technicality should not matter; there is no plausible reason why anyone living in the United States should not have representation in Congress. DC pays the highest federal income taxes per capita, so why should its residents not have a say in how their own taxes are used? All American citizens have the right to Congressional representation, and the District is no different. If the argument for statehood is so crystal clear, then why do so many refuse to consider establishing the Douglass Commonwealth as the 51st state?
Anti-statehood politicians repeat the same set of arguments against DC statehood when confronted with the topic. Their points generally either have no basis or present problems that do not exist. Here are some of these arguments, and why they miss the mark.
1. “DC Statehood is unconstitutional”
This point has some legitimate basis. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution describes a federal district that would contain the seat of power. This would be a valid point if the plan for DC Statehood included the White House, Capitol, and Supreme Court within the borders of the new state. In fact, the plan for the Douglass Commonwealth has a “National Capital Service Area” containing the White House, Capitol, and Supreme Court that is not in the state. Thus, the “seat of power” would remain in a federal district, not in any state.
2. “DC isn’t big enough to become a state”
700,000 people live in the District. Land doesn’t vote.
3. “DC should be re-absorbed by Maryland”
Such an arrangement, called “retrocession,” simply would not be democratic. The people of DC voted overwhelmingly in favor of statehood in 2016, not joining Maryland. The whole reason that the issue of DC statehood exists is because of the will of the people. Neither Washingtonians nor Marylanders voted for such a change, so retrocession is not feasible because it wasn’t even an option to begin with.
4. “DC voters elect corrupt politicians to public offices”
This (highly subjective) argument is a non-issue. If DC voters elect corrupt politicians, then so be it. Should New York be stripped of its statehood because of Andrew Cuomo’s corruption? Voters have a right to elect anyone they see fit to hold public office; anything less is undemocratic, and it is not the role of the federal government to decide whether DC voters make poor decisions.
5. “This is a partisan issue. DC statehood just means more blue seats in Congress!”
The entire anti-statehood movement essentially boils down to this. At the end of the day, opponents of statehood (who are overwhelmingly Republicans) simply do not want more Democrats in Congress. Now, one cannot deny that if DC was red that Democrats would resist statehood. The benefits of congressional representation surpass voting on partisan legislation. The pandemic has underscored how important congressional representation would be to the welfare of DC residents. Since DC has no say in any committees, our allocation of vaccines fell far short of what we needed. The daytime population of the District approaches 1.4 million, meaning almost 700,000 people commute into DC for work; Congress’s allocation of vaccines only accounted for the “night-time” population of DC. DC had no recourse in Congress because it has no voice, so the issue remained unresolved.
In addition, the riots on January 6 exposed another issue about DC’s status as a territory. The federal government is able to control the DC National Guard, so the response time to the Capitol was painfully slow and allowed the riots to continue for longer than they would have otherwise. On the subject of autonomy, DC doesn’t even have full control over the laws it passes. Congress can challenge or stop any legislation the City Council passes, so DC can’t even pass laws for itself.
DC statehood is an issue of democracy. Many believe that the population of the District is transient: just transplants who move here to work for the federal government. On the contrary, there are families (who are primarily minorities) who have lived here for decades and have had no voice. Statehood is a moral and civil rights issue and should be a no-brainer. Let’s hope it gets somewhere soon.
Image from Mr.TinDC on Flickr.