Just this week, lawmakers approved a bill establishing the District of Columbia (D.C.) as the 51st state of the United States of America. This is after multiple calls and protests from the citizens to finally consider D.C. as a state. However, the bill is not out of the woods yet as it faces multiple oppositions in the Senate. Many people are enraged after Trump explicitly stated that ‘D.C. will never be a state’, probably hinting against the dominance of opposition (Democrats) in the district.
Why is Washington, D.C. not a state anyway? It holds the capital where the highest seat of power is located. The president also resides in Washington, D.C. Many people are confused but here are a few reasons why Washington, D.C. is the capital but not a state:
The Wish of the Founding Fathers
The founding fathers have indirectly indicated in the US constitution that the capital should not be a state nor should it be within a state. Instead, it would be a federal district that is governed directly by the federal government. The congress dictates and establishes its annual budget.
The only way around the constitution is to maintain the area around the White House as a ‘district’. While the rest of Washington will be under the ‘New Washington State’. If D.C. was originally declared as a state, there are fears that the congress will feel obligated to it and perform its duties to its favor. If the congress was held in this state, so close to the nation’s actual seat of power, decisions might be influenced severely to its favor.
No authority or power to declare itself a state
Since the capital was declared to be in the District of Columbia, its citizens lost their power to vote. It was only in 1951 that the citizens of D.C. were given the opportunity to vote for the President and the Vice President. However, the citizens themselves do not vote for congress and senate representation.
Because it does not have a representative in congress or the senate, it has no authority or power to lobby itself towards statehood. This in itself is a problem. Washington has a mayor and its delegates to govern district affairs. However, it does not have a say on the laws that govern the state. This is unlike other states that could make their own laws.
There is one major issue in this matter. It is the fact that the political seat of government only covers such a small area in all of the District of Columbia. The population of D.C. is much larger than many states in the entire nation. For centuries there had been issues about what is alleged as an ‘undemocratic’ treatment of Washington residents because more than 700,000 people do not have a representation in Congress. This means that the views of such a huge chunk of the national population are unrepresented in the discussions of national issues.
A political capital should be neutral
Originally, the entirety of the district did not have as much populace as it did when the founding fathers declared it as the capital city. However, because it was the capital city of America, migration towards it was inevitable. The issue of being under the federal government was not originally an issue. But as the population grew, ‘taxation without representation’ became a much-talked-about protest.
The goal of neutrality is simple. It has to be neutral to the point that no political party governs it. This is why it took them centuries to actually gain the right to vote for a president and vice president. It could sway the results of the election.
The point of D.C. not being a state is because it must maintain neutrality. According to the latest data, the District of Columbia is a democratic district. This means that majority of the seats of power in the district government are held by the Democratic Party. This represents that majority of the citizens are democrats. If D.C. becomes a state, it will become a democratic state. This defeats the purpose of neutrality, which is the primary concern of the Founding Fathers.
There must be equilibrium in the national government to avoid conflicts of interest.
Differentiating Washington, D.C. versus Washington State
People living outside of the US should not be confused between Washing State and Washington. These are two different places in America which are located on two separate coasts. Washington State is on the northwestern coast of the country. Seattle, Tacoma, and Vancouver are among the cities that are found within Washington State.
On the other hand, Washington DC (or simply Washington) is a city located in the District of Columbia on the eastern coast of the US. The city is known to be the capital of the United States. Also, the White House, the highest seat of power in the US government, is located within Washington D.C.