Occupy The Vote DC
DC Needs Representation: Fast.

OCCUPY THE VOTE 

Adrian@occupydc.org

To: Those in Congress with a vote

Re: Full Democracy for the citizens of DC.

Since its creation, our capital, the bastion of American democracy, has been handicapped from responding to the will of its citizens. Despite paying taxes to the federal government and sending our citizens to fight and die in every war, Washingtonians have had no voting representation in Congress, and have had to seek approval from people they did not elect on all legislative and budgetary matters. In other words, the so-called capital of the free world is America’s most disenfranchised jurisdiction.  

More than two hundred years after the American Revolution, taxation without representation – the foundational grievance of our country – is still alive and well in our nation’s capital. Washingtonians pay higher per capita federal income taxes than any state, yet we have no say in how Congress spends that money.

It’s true that there was a time long ago when the capital had few residents outside of the legislators and first federal workers who maintained representation in their home states.  But DC now has 600,000 taxed, yet voiceless, citizens. Not a Senator to hear them at the Hart Building, no voting representative in the House to stand for their concerns. 

Based on the founding principles of our democratic nation, we the signees demand that Washington, D.C. have the long-overdue freedoms of: 

Full budget autonomy. Congress is overburdened and often stalemated by its responsibilities to the rest of the country. Yet, the D.C. Government cannot spend its own tax dollars without the approval of Congress. A bill proposed by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) would free DC’s local budget from Congressional control.  We urge Congress to pass this bill free of any “riders” restricting how DC spends its own money. Letting D.C. take control of its own budget would free time for Congress to attend to national issues, while giving D.C. the local democracy that is a given to every other American. 

Full legislative autonomy. Eliminate the requirement for congressional review of new District laws. This red tape subverts democracy and adds bureaucratic inefficiency to the processes of both Congress and D.C. government. We urge Congress to pass the District of Columbia Legislative Autonomy Act of 2011, H.R. 506.

Full representation and voting rights in Congress. The people of D.C. do not have a vote in the House or in the Senate. This deprives more than 600,000 Americans of an empowered voice in our national legislature. This unjust situation has allowed members of Congress who were not elected by the people of the District of Columbia to impose policies upon the citizens of D.C. that are not supported by the people.  We urge Congress to pass H.R. 266, the District of Columbia Equal Representation Act of 2011. 

Politicians have attached riders related to abortion funding and gun ownership to past bills that would expand real democracy for D.C. residents.  These riders ultimately divert the dialogue from democratic representation and further disenfranchise Washingtonians. We demand that any such riders attached to the legislation above be presented not as mandates, but as referendum proposals up for vote by the citizens of Washington, D.C..  

Until D.C. realizes democracy as stipulated above, we will follow the examples of  Alice Paul, Mohandas Gandhi and Anna Hazare, and will refuse all food and consume only water in a continuous hunger strike. In a gesture of transparency we fast here, in the open, at McPherson Sq., Washington, D.C., with a transparent 24/7 video livestream at http://occupythevotedc.tumblr.com

To consciously disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of American citizens is unjust and contrary to this country’s principles. Democracy for D.C. is not a political issue but a moral issue; not an issue of left or right but of representation and democracy. We call on President Obama, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, and the U.S. Congress to show leadership and give the capital of this great country the voting representation and local democracy it deserves.

In solidarity with Occupy DC and people’s democratic movements the world over, signed,

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