How It Is, and How It Could Be

For someone who’s read Hume – or at least has a Quoteboy who’s read him – George Will really doesn’t seem to grasp the distinction between is and ought:

The D.C. House Voting Rights Act will give the District a full voting member in the House of Representatives. The problem is, or should be, that although the Constitution has provisions that allow various interpretations, the following is not one of those provisions: The House shall be composed of members chosen “by the people of the several states.”

And, of course, Congress next could give the District two senators. Which probably is the main objective of the Democrats who are most of the supporters of this end run around the Constitution. In the 12 elections since the District acquired, by constitutional amendment, the right to allocate presidential electoral votes, it has never cast less than 74.8 percent of its popular vote for the Democratic presidential candidate. That amendment, the 23rd, stipulates that the District shall allocate the number of electoral votes to which it would be entitled “if it were a state.” If.

Will seems to be under the impression that there’s some massive group of ignorant liberals who think that DC is, currently, a state. He’s wrong, of course, but that’s not really the issue. The question is whether DC should be a state. Referring to constitutional provisions doesn’t answer that question. Hell, explicitly partisan and/or racist arguments against DC statehood would at least be relevant to the discussion. What the Constitution says is simply beside the point.

I’d be more sympathetic to the position that we need a full-fledged constitutional amendment were the amendment not ridiculously unwieldy and stupid to begin with. But it is, and so we’re left with things like the D.C. House Voting Rights Act as the next-best option if we don’t want to leave 500,000 citizens without representation. Apparently Will thinks that strict adherence to the anachronistic constitutional provisions on this issue is worth disenfranchising half a million (mostly black, mostly poor) people, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone.

2 thoughts on “How It Is, and How It Could Be

  1. Of course there’s always the alternative to statehood that Louis Gohmert (at least I think it was him) has put forward – just balance the lack of representation with no levying of federal taxes.

  2. humility my friend. don’t write “mostly black and mostly poor” as a talking point unless you can back it up censuserifically.

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