Here's How DC Statehood Could Backfire On Democrats

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Mar 24, 2021 - 05:20 PM

Congressional Democrats' push for DC statehood is an obvious power-grab cloaked in a moral argument, which would shift the balance of power through brute-force political tactics - potentially sparking an 'arms race' of new Senate seats which could massively backfire on the left.

According to Bloomberg opinion columnist Noah Feldman, a growing number of Senate Democrats have refused to back down to Republican roadblocks regarding DC statehood - and are angling to kill the filibuster rule, requiring at least 60 votes for a measure to pass - and allowing Republicans to prevent Democrats from gaining two new ostensibly Democratic Senate seats.

To kill the filibuster entirely, however, Democrats either need to pick up more seats in 2022, or Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) drops his opposition to eliminating it.

Democrats argue that DC needs to become a state in order to 'enfranchise' some 700,000 residents - "nearly half of them black - who can't vote in meaningful congressional elections," according to Feldman.

The argument for D.C. statehood has two different faces, each important. On the one hand, it is a moral argument for the equal suffrage of nearly 700,000 D.C. residents — nearly half of them Black — who currently can’t vote in meaningful congressional elections.

On the other, it is also a partisan effort designed to give Democrats two more Senate seats. Under the Constitution, every new state gets two senators, regardless of the state’s size. By population, D.C. would be one of the tiniest states — bigger than Wyoming and Vermont, smaller than Alaska and South Dakota. But it would automatically get two senators, just like California (with around 40 million people) and Texas (nearly 30 million). -Bloomberg

Yet, if Democrats are able to push forward with DC statehood and gain two Senators, there's nothing stopping Republicans from doing the exact same thing when they return to power, "for example, by sub-dividing solidly red states," according to the report.

Feldman continues, arguing that while Democrats "are ordinarily quick to point out the fundamentally un-democratic nature of the Senate," which "demolishes the principle of one-person-one-vote — and has since day one," they are "prepared to embrace the undemocratic idea that 700,000 people should get two senators."

The partisan rationale might be cloaked in the moral argument for equal voting rights for D.C. residents. The political reality, however, is that Democrats are frustrated with Republicans’ lopsided advantage in the Senate, where the 50 Republicans represent some 40 million fewer people than the 50 Democrats do. D.C. statehood is supposed to fight fire with fire.

So, yes, killing the filibuster would make the undemocratic Senate slightly less undemocratic. On the other hand, using the opportunity to add another state on a straight partisan vote would invite more extreme polarization, not less. -Bloomberg