Forgetting everything else abolitionist Frederick Douglass is readily known for supporting, Democrats on Wednesday picked a little-known issue Douglass supported that would score them political points. Vice President Joe Biden, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., all called for Washington, D.C. to become a state during a dedication ceremony to a statue of Douglass.
"We agree with — the president and I — with Senator [Eleanor Holmes] Norton — with Representative Norton and Frederick Douglass and support home rule, budget autonomy, and the vote for the people of the District of Columbia," Biden said.
Reid followed up by comparing D.C. to other states, adding "Washington, D.C., residents deserve the same right to self-government and congressional representation as residents of any other state."
"The District deserves statehood. And Congress should act to grant it," Reid said.
Pelosi reiterated Douglass's support for D.C. statehood and agreed, "We need full representation in the halls of Congress."
It's true that Douglass supported D.C. statehood. He wrote in his 1892 biography that, "The District of Columbia is the one spot where there is no government for the people, of the people, and by the people. Its citizens submit to rulers whom they have had no choice in selecting. They obey laws, which they had no voice in making. They have a [sic] plenty of taxation, but no representation."
But even saints can be wrong.
An Examiner editorial last year reminded that "the Constitution created D.C. as the federal 'seat of government' — not as a state. Therefore, D.C. cannot have a voting Member of the U.S. House of Representatives." It is true that Congress could pass a Constitutional amendment to make D.C. a state, but that's not what the original framers had in mind. Having Congress located in a state would inevitably bestow on that state more power than others.
On the other hand, from the Democrats' perspective, it's a lot more fun to talk about D.C. statehood than the IRS scandal, NSA snooping, the Benghazi massacre or Eric Holder's Justice Department going after the Associated Press and Fox News.