This Might Be the Year D.C. Becomes a State

[MUSIC PLAYING]

jane coaston

Today on “The Argument,” the case for and against D.C. statehood.

If you live in D.C., you aren’t represented in Congress. You don’t have a say in where your federal tax dollars go, and you pay a lot of them. And while you have a congressperson, they don’t have the voting power to fix the intersection of Florida Avenue and New York Avenue, the epicenter of hell. But Congress does have jurisdiction over every single law passed by your elected city council and over how tall your buildings are.

If you live in D.C., you’re grudgingly used to all of this. But if you don’t, isn’t it kind of weird? Welcome to the long simmering debate over D.C. statehood. It kicked into high gear last month when House Democrats unanimously passed a bill to make D.C. the 51st state in the Union. If it passes the Senate, D.C. will get two senators and one representative. That’s likely two Democratic senators and a Democratic representative. With 2022 looming, there’s a reason Democrats are looking for any edge they can get. Yes, it’s political gamesmanship. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the residents of D.C. will finally have representation and I suppose new license plates since they currently say, “End taxation without representation.” I’m Jane Coaston, D.C. resident, the actual D.C., not the Washington you’re probably furious at for one reason or another. And I think it’s about time the residents of D.C. get the representation they deserve. More than 700,000 people live here. Many actually grew up here, raised families here, grew roots in this city. But I’ve talked to enough members of Congress to know that for them, D.C. doesn’t exist beyond Capitol Hill. They’re not going to my old neighborhood of Trinidad or Shaw or Petworth or Brentwood. They’re not going to a lot of the places in D.C. that haven’t gotten a lot of that financial windfall they talk about when they say the district has too much money and too much federal power. Most people in the city don’t work for the government or a fancy lobbying group. And if they vote for something that Congress doesn’t like, their vote gets overruled because D.C. But statehood is complicated. And the alternatives— retrocession, dual federal citizenship— are also complicated. And my guests strongly disagree about whether it’s a good idea for the district and the country for D.C. to gain statehood. Dan McLaughlin is a senior writer at National Review and has written several articles on why D.C. shouldn’t be granted statehood. George Derek Musgrove is an associate professor of history at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the co-author of “Chocolate City, A History of Race and Democracy in the Nation’s Capital.” [MUSIC PLAYING]

So thank you so much for being here.

george derek musgrove

Thanks for having me.

dan mclaughlin

Glad to be here.

jane coaston

Derek, can you tell me how is D.C. different?

george derek musgrove

Sure, it’s set off as a federal district to be separate from any state. And the ideal comes out of what we now call the mutiny of 1783, where mutiny war for independence soldiers marched on the Pennsylvania State House. And they were owed back pay by the Continental Congress. So they go to the Pennsylvania State House to lobby the state government to pay their back wages. And Alexander Hamilton thought this was tremendously embarrassing to the new national government. So he hurriedly calls Congress into session. And then he demands that the governor of Pennsylvania, a fellow Federalist named Dickinson, call up a militia and disperse these troops forcibly for essentially insulting Congress and threatening Congress. And Dickinson says no, I’m not going to raise a militia to go beat up on troops who have just secured our independence. Like, that’s not going to work out. And Hamilton then turns around and effectively says, you have insulted the Congress. We have to have a place where we are free of the authority of any state government. And so, Congress moves to Princeton, New Jersey. And then Hamilton writes it all up later on, as saying, we were forced out of Philadelphia by these troops and by a state government that wouldn’t protect us. And so we must write into the Constitution an area where we are essentially separate from any state government, and we can protect ourselves. And so that’s how we get the District of Columbia, effectively.

jane coaston

And Dan, so essentially, the point of D.C. is that no state is supposed to be in charge of D.C. So Maryland isn’t supposed to be in charge of D.C. Virginia isn’t supposed to be in charge of D.C. Is that correct?

dan mclaughlin

Yeah, it is something that comes very directly out of the 1783 incident. And while that particular incident did not end in disaster, it pointed the way to a real fear that if you called up the state government and they refused to protect you, that the federal Congress could be intimidated. I mean, that’s, of course, not the last time that even particular incident has happened. We had the Bonus Army in the 1930s. And they were much less armed or organized or dangerous. And in fact, the federal government responded to them with certainly what was seen as excessive force at the time under Douglas MacArthur.

jane coaston

The Bonus Army, for those who don’t know, was a fascinating historical incident. It’s actually very sad. The Bonus Army was World War I veterans and their families and people around them who go to Washington, D.C. in 1932 because they want early cash redemption of their service certificates. These are men and their families who are in the midst of the Great Depression. And they are camped out for a fairly long period of time.

george derek musgrove

I think it’s important in both instances to remember, though, that neither the mutinied soldiers in 1783, nor the Bonus Army, directly threatened Congress. Again, Congress was not in session when those soldiers gathered in Philadelphia. They were called into session in order to create a crisis to essentially make the case for a legal principle. And it worked.

jane coaston

I want to get at a very basic question. What are the benefits, Derek, of being a state?

george derek musgrove

Power — as simple as that — a say. When you have two senators, you can make things happen. You can stop things from happening. As a district resident, I’m very aware that when there are debates over Supreme Court nominees, I’ve got nobody to call about it. When there are debates about the budget— and I’m talking about the D.C. budget. For a long time, in Congress, when there are debates about the D.C. budget, I can call Eleanor Holmes Norton, but she doesn’t have a vote to actually influence how that debate goes. So you can have people from Utah or from rural Maryland or from California legislating, effectively, for the District of Columbia. We just don’t have the power to push back against those people.

jane coaston

Eleanor Holmes Norton is D.C.‘s congressperson, but she’s a non-voting delegate. Dan, why shouldn’t D.C. be a state? What’s the argument for D.C. residents not having this power?

dan mclaughlin

Well, I think there’s two issues that are predominant. The security issue is one that has really been highlighted by the events of both the protests during the summer of 2020, in which there was a real clash between the White House and the mayor over how to use authority on the streets to protect federal property. But then, obviously, you had the Capitol riot where you had a direct assault essentially, a rebellion against the Congress itself, an attempt to intimidate the Congress. And so, I think there’s real concern— legitimate concern that the federal government needs to have sufficient control over its physical environment to be able to prevent street level power from being used to distort federal decision-making. And I think the other piece of this is that when you look at D.C.‘s influence over the nation, D.C. has a higher median income than any state. There are more federal jobs in the district than there are residents of Syracuse, New York or Dayton, Ohio. And we’re now at a time where you have an administration that is attempting to spend more money in 100 days than the entire annual federal budget. And so, I think to add to that, to add additional power for D.C., additional voice for D.C. in the Senate and the House — because the presidency isn’t an issue, right? D.C. residents already vote for the president.

jane coaston

Thanks, 23rd Amendment.

dan mclaughlin

Yes.

jane coaston

Yay.

dan mclaughlin

And to add to that power pushes us ever further in the direction of having additional voices in the Congress that have a direct stake in the size of the federal government itself that it pushes us further in the direction of government of the government by the government for the government.

jane coaston

But Dan, I want to push back on that a little bit because D.C.‘s actual dynamics, I think, don’t often get figured into this conversation. D.C. itself is about 46% Black. The majority of people who live in D.C. don’t work for the federal government. So what about their representation in Congress? Is that part of this conversation that people are missing, Derek?

george derek musgrove

I mean, look, in the mid 1990s, D.C. had a needle exchange program in order to bring down the rate of HIV transmission among intravenous drug users. It was a successful program. The program was lowering the AIDS transmission rate in the city. And members of Congress who wanted to show out for religious conservatives back home banned us from using our own money to fund that program. And after 10 years of Congress banning us from using our own money for that program, we had the highest AIDS rate per capita in the nation. Thanks, Congress. Now they didn’t have to listen to us, and we told them we didn’t want it. And I should point out, just to reemphasize for your listeners, the majority of federal employees do not live in D.C. I’m assuming that Dan would not suggest that we should disfranchise Prince George’s Montgomery and Arlington and Fairfax counties. So I mean, I think we just need to deal with facts here when we’re talking about who lives where and what would empower federal bureaucrats. And I also have to just circle back. When we talk about the January 6 insurrection, the fact of the matter is that the federal government’s control of the D.C. National Guard basically forcing it to go through the Pentagon before it could be released to aid the Capitol Police at the Capitol is a product of D.C.‘s disfranchisement. If D.C. Were a state during January 6, 2021, the governor would have been able to dispatch the D.C. National Guard immediately, as soon as they got the calls from the Capitol Police that a mob was overrunning the Capitol Building. So the Metropolitan Police Department, the D.C. police, was crucial in backing up the Capitol Police as they were fending off that mob. Even if we go back to the 2020 protests, remember, the scandal there was not that the mayor and the M.P.D. were not, in fact, handling those protests. The scandal was that the president sent federal officials into D.C. streets to violate the First Amendment rights of protesters. He actually cleared the streets for a photo-op using federal officials before curfew, which means that those people were breaking no law. And so, here, you have a situation where federal control actually led to endangering the lives of members of Congress. And in the other case, you have a rogue president sending federal officials into the streets to violate people’s constitutional rights against the wishes of the mayor and the council of the city.

jane coaston

You mentioned that Congress can block any law that’s passed by a D.C. city council. And that’s because in 1973, D.C. gained home rule. Can you explain what home rule is and why, in your view, isn’t that enough?

george derek musgrove

Sure, so there’s really three moments of governance in D.C.‘s history. And I’ll run through them really quickly to explain home rule. The first is that in 1802, Congress grants the city sort of a local government, a council and a presidentially appointed mayor. And up through the Civil War, eventually, that council and mayor are fully elected by the white voting residents of D.C., and then after the Civil War, the Black male residents as well. As a reaction to Reconstruction and biracial democracy, D.C. is run essentially as a federal plantation for the next 100 years. You have three presidentially appointed commissioners that run the city. And they do so in league with the D.C. committees in the House and Senate. In 1973, as you point out, Congress passes the Home Rule Act. And D.C. is able to have a mayor and a city council again. And we also have a non-voting delegate during that time. And so, that’s a limited amount of government that we have. But the problem with that system is that Congress retains in all of that its powers of exclusive legislation in the city. And so, if the mayor or the council do something that Congress does not like, if you can muster the votes in Congress to reverse the will of the local population, then you can do that. That’s typically kind of hard in a very divided Congress today. And so what you see people doing is sort of sliding budget riders into the city’s budget. Andy Harris from Maryland did that when it came to marijuana legalization. And so, yes, we’re in the weird position today where you can possess marijuana legally in the district. But there is no way for you to buy it legally.

jane coaston

I mean, Congress is why, if you come to D.C., you’ll notice that all of our buildings are a certain height. And that is because of height limits that were passed in the early 1900s. And so, Dan, to me, that sounds like a lack of local control. If the federal government were overseeing the actions of virtually any other city or area to this degree, I think a lot of conservatives would find that to be anathema. Why is it that a representative from Maryland should determine what laws can and can’t be passed here?

dan mclaughlin

I don’t necessarily disagree with the argument that home rule could be expanded in some ways. I mean, the marijuana example is a bit of a red herring because the box of being able to legalize marijuana locally and yet still have the federal government essentially keeping it illegal is one that a lot of states are in, although that depends, in part, on the whims of the executive branch. But certainly, you can make an argument that Congress could expand the scope of things that can be done at the local level. And it has done that before. I think that still brings you back, though, to the fundamental question. I mean, things like the construction of buildings in the city is very much related to the security environment of the city. Construction of capital cities has long been an issue that is tied up very much with the federal government’s ability to control the security environment. I mean, you think of, like, the way Paris is laid out. It was done very much with an eye towards reducing the ability of the Parisian mob to dictate terms to the national government, essentially. And D.C. obviously is different from the rest of the country in the sense that everywhere else in the country, whether it be the states that were colonies and preceded the Union or the states that were founded out of federal territories, you had a community and then you had a government. And the two go hand in hand. But the two grew up together. D.C. was planned from the very beginning as a federal entity, right? And so, the first shovelfuls of dirt there begin with the creation of federal facilities. And the communities grow up around that. So I think the government’s power to place at least some outside limits on what the local government can do to its physical environment, I think you don’t want to be in a situation where the federal government could have its water or power shut off by the local government and things like that.

george derek musgrove

As a historian, there were settlements in this area before the federal government got here. George Washington chose this location along the Potomac because it contained the town of Alexandria and the town of Georgetown. It’s not like there wasn’t a settlement here. There was a community before the national capital. And that community, in many ways, dictated the shape of the resulting town of Washington City. But more than that, again, I just don’t think it’s healthy to conflate the federal government and the people that live in the District of Columbia. There’s 700,000 people who live here. A majority of them do not work for the federal government. They’re teachers and bus drivers. They’re shop owners and other things like that. They’re right-bearing citizens who deserve full citizenship, not second class citizenship.

dan mclaughlin

I would also just — just if I can push back on that a little bit, though. I mean, I think you also have to remember not only do you have a large number of federal employees working in the district and a large number living in the district, but not everybody who lives off the existence of the federal government in D.C. is necessarily on the federal payroll. I mean, you have all of these other businesses, whether it be the lobbying shops and trade associations to vendors and other — there’s an awful lot of the district’s economy that is tied to servicing the federal government, as well as working for the federal government. So it’s not simply the people who are directly employed. And look, I mean, am I concerned that we have the same issue of self-interest in the governments of Maryland and Virginia? Absolutely, and I think that there is a real concern that we already have, essentially, four senators who disproportionately represent the financial interests of the federal workforce.

george derek musgrove

Well, no, I mean, if we all believed in the virtual representation, I don’t know if we would have supported the war for independence. I mean, the fact of the matter is that the senators from Maryland and Virginia represent the interests of the people of Maryland and Virginia. And so I don’t think saying that there’s four senators around here suggests that the people of the district somehow get representation from them. [MUSIC PLAYING]

archived recording (jay)

Hi, my name’s Jay, and I’m in San Diego, California. And the thing I’m arguing about is whether or not to get the vaccine. A number of friends of mine have been vaccinated, as well as myself, and yet, other friends refused. And so, by that choice, we can’t get together and visit. And it’s deeply disturbing.

jane coaston

What are you arguing about with your family, your friends, your frenemies? Tell me about the big debate you’re having in a voicemail by calling 347-915-4324. And we might play an excerpt of it on a future episode.

Dan, this is not a new debate regarding statehood. In 1993, Congress voted the statehood legislation out of committee, and it went to the House floor for a vote. But it failed because some House Democrats also voted against it. Now the D.C. statehood conversation is pretty evenly split with Democrats for and Republicans against. What happened?

dan mclaughlin

The statehood debates are different than they were 30 years ago because I think 30 years ago, that you had real concerns that the district was simply a basket case, was not capable of governing itself, you know, that it was overrun with crime, and that it was particularly that it was financially not self-sufficient. And that, obviously, has turned around. It has turned around in part driven by the explosive growth of the federal government. And look, I think there is no getting around the fact that some of these debates 30 years ago were much more racially polarized. I mean, if you look at the demographics of the district, right, I mean, it was 60%, 70% white, up until about the 1950s. You have a white flight era, really, that begins in the 1950s and accelerates in the ‘60s and ‘70s. The census found over 70% Black population in 1970, 1980. And that has reversed itself very rapidly over the last couple of decades to where I think the Black and white populations of D.C. are probably about even now. We don’t have the final numbers from the 2020 census. One of the interesting things that if you look at particularly voting on the presidential level — and I think this is also reflected at the district level — is that as the district has become proportionally whiter in the last 30 years, it has also become more and more Democratic. Look at the presidential level. Nixon got 21% of the vote in the district. You had Reagan getting 13%, 14%. You go down to Romney and McCain getting 6%, 7%, Trump getting 4% or 5%. And so you’ve had a real shift. And so, I think these days, the debate is much more driven on both sides bipartisanship. I mean, let’s be frank here. If the demographics of the district was 80% MAGA hat wearing Black people, I think the partisanship would be reversed because so much of what you see in D.C. today is simply because everything is between the 48 yard lines, it’s so hard to get anybody out of the fear that you add a couple of senators, and you change the national dynamics.

jane coaston

Derek, we have seen the role that race has played in D.C. We saw that under worst person ever, Woodrow Wilson, helping to ensure that people had to submit photographs for federal jobs, which basically resegregated the federal workforce. We’ve seen time and time again the role that race has played in this conversation.

george derek musgrove

I mean, I would absolutely agree with Dan that partisanship is a huge factor in the admission of states. But there’s no question in the history of the district, race has also played a huge role. And so, for instance, starting in 1874, when Congress stripped the district of any local government whatsoever and instituted three commissioners, all of whom were white until we get to the 1960s, I should point out, you effectively had a situation where segregationists in Congress kind of had a real sort of incentive to not only keep the district voteless, but to sort of show their constituents back home that they were not treating the district particularly well. And so, you’d have people like Senator Byrd of West Virginia who was just underfunding district agencies. And he was kind of playing to the folks back home. I want to crack down on welfare mothers and heroin addicts, and all of that coded is Black. What you see after World War II is a bipartisan consensus between the two parties among liberals and moderates that D.C. should, in fact, have the vote again. In 1978, they’re able to push through Congress the D.C. Voting Rights Amendment, which was an amendment to the Constitution that would effectively say D.C. should be treated as though it is a state for purposes of representation in Congress. That leads us to a new right insurgency led by people like Phyllis Schlafly and Pat Buchanan, Gun Owners of America and American Legislative Exchange Council. And down to today, Republicans are on record as opposing an amendment to Congress. They’re on record as opposing statehood. Democrats, on the other hand, slowly warmed to statehood. And the reason was primarily because in the last couple of years, we’ve experienced a pretty remarkable moment of Republican minority rule on the federal level, where a minority of the population, if you count senators, had achieved a majority in the Senate. And so, a lot of Democrats essentially say in order to balance the type of representation that we have in the Senate, we really need to consider adding more states. And so, they’ve begun to back D.C. residents’ long-standing interest in statehood.

jane coaston

Dan, going back to that D.C. VRA, it would have not made D.C. a state, but it would have given D.C. more representation. It seems to me that if you asked a lot of Republicans now, isn’t this a better solution than statehood, they might say yes. What was the issue and what has changed in this discussion since about giving D.C. more representation?

dan mclaughlin

I mean, look, obviously, Republicans don’t want to give an inch. And for very much the same reasons why Democrats want to gain power, Republicans don’t want to give it up. Look, I think the absolute deal breaker that you’re just not going to get Republican support for is adding two more senators. I think otherwise, if you were trying to accomplish something that was some sort of bipartisan grand bargain — and I think there are certainly things you could at least consider on that — I think you’d have a much better chance focusing on the House. But as with anything that’s bipartisan, if you want to get something, you have to give something.

george derek musgrove

But this is where the hypocrisy comes in, I think. And Dan, I’m not directing at you. I’m directing that at the GOP. Look, in 2007, the bill that was put forward by a bipartisan group, Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat non-voting delegate from D.C., and Tom Davis, a Republican from Northern Virginia, the bill was we’re going to pair a vote for D.C. in the House only with an early vote in an at-large seat for Utah, which was a dependably Republican state, right? And Republicans tanked the bill. And people like Jason Chaffetz who actually ran against the bill, because he was still a candidate at the time, said, why would we give D.C. a seat? We can just wait three years. And we’ll get the seat in Utah anyway. Because it was — Utah had actually grown in population. Let’s just wait them out. That way, Republicans win and Democrats lose.

dan mclaughlin

There is sort of a long-standing fear among Republicans on Capitol Hill and particularly among the Republican grassroots that Republicans have a long tradition of agreeing to exactly those kind of deals where Republicans get something of very short-term benefit and Democrats, in return, get something permanent. And of course, the most notorious example of that of all was the election of 1876, when Republicans got one term in the White House and Democrats got the end of Reconstruction. But there have been an awful lot of those since then, where Republicans traded away something of permanent value for something of very, very short-term value. And I think there’s a global resistance to that among conservatives to making those kinds of deals.

jane coaston

D.C. has one of the highest income tax rates in the country, but it is not a state and does not have representation, which is why if you look at the license plates of everyone, including the current president, in D.C., it says, “Taxation without representation.” Derek, why is our income tax so high? And I’ve seen a host of conservatives saying, well, what if we make it so D.C. residents don’t get statehood, but don’t have to pay income tax? And then it just becomes Singapore on the Potomac.

george derek musgrove

Yeah, I mean, our taxes are high because we have the responsibilities of, essentially, a city, a county, and a state, sort of all wrapped into one. And as far as creating a tax haven because that was floated — I mean, people like Jack Kemp floated it back in the ‘90s. I’d rather have rights. I want to pay my taxes. I drive on roads. I use public utilities. I’d like to pay for them, just like every American. But I’d also like to have a say in sort of how that money is spent, how this country is governed, just like every other American.

dan mclaughlin

Anything that gives us an opportunity to cut taxes is always worth considering. Look, I think if you eliminated federal taxation in the district, you would not have — for the reasons that the director said, you would not have the end of agitation for D.C. statehood. So, as long as Congress is in charge of the district, it’s certainly the idea of rolling back the federal income tax there, either partly or completely, is certainly something that’s worth considering. But I don’t know that it really is a solution to the issue.

jane coaston

Dan, I want to get to a couple of the ideas that you have had about things to do besides statehood. And among them is the idea of D.C. retro seating into Maryland as a counter to the voting rights argument. What is retrocession?

dan mclaughlin

Retrocession would be giving the land back to Maryland and saying this is going to be part of Maryland now. Let me just back up a little bit here right because the proposal that’s been discussed in Congress to create the Douglas Commonwealth as a new state would essentially retain a tiny kind of federal district with almost no residents. And I think that creates some problems of its own, particularly because if you don’t repeal the 23rd Amendment, then you’ve got a bunch of buildings that have three electoral votes. And that creates what I call the rotten borough problem, right? The rotten boroughs where we’re in pre-1832 in Britain that they had these tiny little districts that sent a member to parliament and had 30 people living there. So I think retroceding the whole district in the way that the Douglas Commonwealth proposals do wouldn’t solve some of the other issues of physical security. But full retrocession would be giving the land back to Maryland, at least some of the populated land of the district.

jane coaston

And I’d like to note, Derek, Senator Susan Collins has said that she’d support D.C. joining Maryland over statehood because — sure, but Maryland doesn’t want that. And I think that Maryland is Maryland. They put Old Bay on things that don’t need to have Old Bay on them. D.C. is D.C. We invented go-go. These are two very different places. So what’s the opposition in your view? And what’s the guarantee that Senate Republicans would allow a seat in the House for the district even with retrocession?

george derek musgrove

Retrocession is a very difficult process. You have to get people where you are, where you want the place that you want to retrocede. You have to get them to back it. You then have to get folks in Congress to back it. You then have to get the state legislature to receive the land back. It’s not like it’s just a simple thing, like you just give it back, right? You have to have three pretty contentious votes, essentially, or at least, two votes and get consensus in the place. And as you pointed out, there is a strong aversion to retrocession in Washington, D.C. The reasons for it are complicated. Retrocession kind of stinks of slavery in a lot of D.C. residents’ minds because the only time it’s been done and done successfully was in the case of Alexandria. But there’s also just the issue that D.C. has been separate from Maryland for 230 years. I mean, Maine hasn’t even been separate from Massachusetts that long, right, to Senator Collins’ point. But I think the most important reason that retrocession doesn’t make sense is because D.C. residents don’t want it. Maryland residents don’t want it and have been on record as not wanting it for decades now. And there’s no one in Congress, even though five or six different Republicans have put forward retrocession bills, there’s no one in Congress who’s seriously willing to work for it. I mean, the primary retrocession bill is put forward by a guy named Dusty Johnson, who’s from South Dakota. And he has, like, 20 something co-sponsors within the GOP caucus. He’s never done any serious work trying to whip votes for it in the House. He’s never met with self-determination leadership in D.C. He’s never met with the mayor or the council.

jane coaston

Dan, you also mentioned something about dual federal citizenship. What would that mean, and what would that look like?

dan mclaughlin

Yeah, let me just briefly describe the first alternative, which — and then I’ll get to dual citizenship in a second. I mean, I think if you were trying to do a grand bargain that actually gave both sides something, both partisan sides something, I think if you were actually going to do D.C. statehood with the original district lines and bring in Arlington and Alexandria, that, at least, in terms of the national partisan dynamics, would be something that would get Republican attention more because that would certainly change the partisan dynamics of Virginia. But the dual federal state citizenship concept would be essentially to say that D.C. would be considered part of Maryland for purposes of House and Senate representation. So D.C. would then have a voting representative in the House, and also D.C. residents would be able to vote for Maryland senators.

george derek musgrove

Well, I just think that we shouldn’t be undemocratic about how we bring democracy to the district. You can dream up all types of ways to get voting representation in Congress for the district. You could potentially pair the district with Massachusetts, right? I mean, there’s nothing that says states have to be contiguous, right? There is a consensus for statehood in the district. 86% of residents voted for it in 2016. We are on record, right? In the Congress, a statehood bill has passed the House twice now. And there’s 45 co-sponsors in the Senate. What are we really talking about here? I mean, we have a plan that has a consensus. And you need a consensus to pass a plan. And then there are a bunch of people who are throwing up all these types of different plans that have no consensus that most people don’t even know about. I just see it as an okie doke or as an intellectual exercise that no one’s serious about carrying out. The work has been done on statehood. I think we should face the question of statehood right now.

jane coaston

Well, I think that we can agree that maybe we could start by making the lobbyists move to Virginia. Maybe that would help? I would feel better. [MUSIC PLAYING] Dan McLaughlin is a senior writer at National Review and a former attorney. George Derek Musgrove is an associate professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and the co-author of “Chocolate City, A History of Race and Democracy in the Nation’s Capital.” Thank you both for joining me today.

george derek musgrove

Thanks for having me.

dan mclaughlin

Thanks.

jane coaston

If you want to learn more about D.C. statehood, I recommend “The District of Columbia Should Not Be a State” by Dan McLaughlin in National Review, published October 2020. And for the other side, you can read “The 51st State America Needs” by George Derek Musgrove and Chris Myers Asch in The New York Times, also published in October of 2020. And listen to an episode of Vox’s “Today, Explained” podcast called “The 51st State.” You can find links to all of these in our episode notes. Finally, exciting news. I’m doing a live show, which, if you’re listening to this on May 12th, is tonight. I’ll be chatting with Kara Swisher and Ezra Klein, my fellow opinion podcast hosts, and columnist Farhad Manjoo about cancel culture. And I sit down with Trevor Noah, where we talk about being biracial and telling unfunny jokes. It’s open to all subscribers at nytimes.com/cancelculture. Wednesday, May 12th, subscribe and come watch. “The Argument” is a production of New York Times Opinion. It’s produced by Phoebe Lett, Elisa Gutierrez, and Vishakha Darbha, edited by Alison Bruzek and Paula Szuchman, with original music and sound design by Isaac Jones, fact-checking by Kate Sinclair, and audience strategy by Shannon Busta. [MUSIC PLAYING]

Source