Along the walk underground from the Capitol to the Dirksen Senate Building, you traverse a long, soulless hallway with a mini train track. As the path curves around, a flag of each state hangs with a corresponding circular crest. Each state’s flag hangs in the order of its admission to the United States. Ten feet separate the flags from one another along the corridor where staffers and lawmakers shuffle between buildings. Imagine a proletariat’s version of the Kennedy Center’s Hall of States. It was in the Dirksen building that Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) held a hearing to discuss a bill granting D.C. statehood. A small step, yes, but an important one in the grind against disenfranchisement. It wasn’t much, but those who spoke for the city did so with aplomb. The case against statehood has never looked so ridiculous. The basic underpinnings of the cause to keep D.C. from statehood are rooted in nothing but privilege and tradition, not logic. And ranking member Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) proved exactly that with his cavalier attitude toward the proceedings, snarky dismissal of the city’s chances of making it through the system, and early departure from the hearing. His approach screamed: “I don’t care because I don’t have to.”
Falling back on the credit of the Constitution as the backbone for denying voting rights just doesn’t hold any logical water unless you seem to think that the original document was fair to begin with. It wasn’t.
“At the time, the concept of voting rights was very narrow. Most people … wouldn’t have been able to vote anyway. Because they were a female, because they were slaves, because they were an African-American or other people of color, or because they didn’t own property,” Alice M. Rivlin, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute said explained at the hearing “But over the period of the last couple of hundred years, our concept of what democracy is has broadened. Voting rights have been achieved, for all adult citizens.”