There are numerous principled reasons to oppose DC statehood. But really, no arguments are more applicable than the ones offered by the Founders, who created a federal district for the distinct purpose of denying it statehood. First, because they were concerned about the seat of federal power being controlled by a hostile or intrusive state government. Second, because they knew that if the capital were in a state — much less its own state — the people would vote to grow and accumulate federal power. Both situations were incompatible with the proper separation of powers and state rights. It made sense then and more sense know. It must not be considered.
Today, though, Democrats want to localize one of the only things in the Constitution that is actually federalized — while federalizing everything else. People like to argue that the Founders never anticipated that millions of Americans would be living and working in the district. Indeed, the more powerful the permanent political class in DC becomes, the more reason we have to deny it statehood. Washington would likely be nothing but a swampy backwater village if it hadn’t been created for, again, the purpose of not being a state.
And it doesn’t matter if there are 20 or 20 million people residing in its boundary. We already have Maryland and, increasingly, Virginia doing DC’s bidding. Washingtonians already have far too much power over ordinary Americans. And the town’s great wealth is produced by taxing citizens and creating federal laws that centralize power. Why would we want to give the federal government more power?
The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake says we’ve been dumbing down the DC statehood debate — and I agree, but for very different reasons. He argues that “emerging arguments against DC statehood” are no longer principled but partisan. “The idea isn’t so much that DC doesn’t necessarily deserve voting rights in the House and Senate, as much as that it would be a boon to Democrats,” he writes. Normally, I would be quite sympathetic to this type of grievance. The problem is that the argument over DC is, both practically and in the abstract, a partisan one. After all, the only reason Democrats want to turn DC into a city-state is because it guarantees them two seats in the Senate, a fact that is completely reasonable to point out.