It’s Easier For Greater Western New York To Become Its Own State Than For Washington DC To Achieve Statehood

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Greater Western New YorkThere’s a verse in the Bible about it being easier “for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24 for those keeping score.) The latest escapades out of the House of Representatives got me thinking about this.

There’s also something about power that brings out the sorrowful worst in people, at once exposing their ego as well as their ignorance. Once again, the House provider fodder for this feeling.

Last Thursday, while you were reading the third part on “The Story of Abraham Parrish,” the House decided it was time for Washington DC to become a state.

No. Seriously. They actually did this.

It won’t go far in the Senate, or so promises Chuck Schumer. We’ll see. Like I said, power tends to reveal both ego and ignorance. And the clock never starts ticking on that revelation.

Let’s examine this a little closer.

Obviously, the Democrats in the House saw this as a move to enhance their position. You need look no further than the partisan 216-208 vote. All the “ayes” were Democrats, all the “nays” were Republicans.

Why would the Democrats do this? Well, every state gets two senators, and with Democrat control of the Senate tenuous at best, bringing on a new state with a solid record of voting Democrat certainly gives that party a better way to maintain if not expand its Senate majority.

Even more revealing, however, has been the partisan reasoning behind the effort.

No less than Robert Reich (former Labor Secretary in the Clinton administration and now on the faculty at Berkeley) says in a tweet: “D.C. is 46% Black and has 0 senators/Wyoming is 1% Black and has 2 senators/

D.C. has 120,000 more people than Wyoming./Opposition to D.C. statehood is racist. Period.”

So, there’s racism (seems like that’s a reason for almost everything nowadays, not that there’s anything wrong with that).

More to the point, there were a number of tweets (including some from fellow blue-check personalities and political pundits like Reich) that employ this 3-step syllogism:

  1. Wyoming and Vermont are states and have 2 senators each.
  2. Washington DC has a population greater than both Wyoming and Vermont.
  3. Therefore, Washington DC should be a state and have 2 senators.

At least this has the virtue of being objective (as opposed to the subjective claim of racism). But more on this objective measure in a moment.

There’s a more important thing going on here. And it’s revealing that the Democrats in the House have chosen to either: a) ignore it; or b) confirm their ignorance of it.

This “more important thing” is called the United States Constitution, specifically, Article I, Section 8, Clause 17, which plainly states, in part: “[The Congress shall have Power…] To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such 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…” (Source:

What this means is that Washington DC cannot be controlled by any state. It is solely under control of the Federal Government. Of interest, and also on the US government site referenced above, is the reason why the Founding Fathers decided this.

On June 21, 1783, during a meeting of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia (then the US capital), about 80 soldiers, fed up with not being paid, stormed the building while Congress was in session. They “physically threatened and verbally abused” members. Local (i.e., state) authorities refused to intervene. (Hmm, does this sound a little familiar).

James Madison, in The Federalist No. 43, explains, “The indispensable necessity of complete authority at the seat of government carries its own evidence with it.” As a result, the current constitution makes it illegal for the seat of the Federal Government to fall under the jurisdiction of any particular state.

It appears we have a stunning degree of Constitutional illiteracy in Congress. Perhaps the offending members ought to take a remedial education course.

In other words, although the Senate and the House might both pass bills making it so, it would take an amendment to the Constitution to make Washington D.C. a state. For those wondering, the amendment process first requires it be passed by a two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate, and then ratified by three-fourths (or 38) of the states.

Ain’t gonna happen.

On the other hand, it only takes a simple majority (of both houses) for Congress to admit a new state into the union. That’s a lot easier, especially if one party controls both houses (as the Democrats do now).

Let’s return to that “objective reasoning” mentioned earlier. If it works (Constitution aside) for Washington DC, then is eight times more convincing for the Greater Western New York region.

According to the most recent census (2010), our region’s population is more than sixteen individual states. In fact, we have more people than Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, and Alaska combined!

All we need is to get the New York State Assembly and Senate to agree (with simple majorities) and then get the United States House and Senate to agree (again with simple majorities).

Here’s the beauty of it: Because they control all four of these legislative bodies, we only need to convince Democrats this is a good idea.

What might they get out of this? The opportunity to become a governor? A better chance to become a senator? The ability to remake a state from its very beginning. Do you hear “power” in all this?

What can you do to convince them?

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