Although it is damp and dark in the District tonight, residents and longtime statehood advocates have something to look forward to this weekend. For the first time since the Clinton Administration, the presidential motorcade will have the “Taxation Without Representation” plates in the Obama second term. President Obama approved the measure today and onlookers will see the plates when the presidential motorcade makes its way down Pennsylvania Avenue on Inauguration Day.
It is a political statement of sorts for those who have waited for the White House to address the District’s longtime precarious position. For those not aware, District residents still do not have a voting member in Congress and the District does not have autonomy over its budget. In the past, this has put the nation’s capital at the center of two of the country’s most polarizing issues: guns and abortion. While the DC Statehood movement has unified residents in the District, its impact has been sporadic on the Hill with the introduction of a couple bills that never passed. President Obama mentioned statehood as a candidate in the 2008 presidential election but has not done much beyond that to the dismay of many statehood advocates.
Is this the beginning of a rejuvenated debate about DC statehood in the Obama’s second term? That has yet to be seen. One can only wonder what is to come for the District at a time when the President does not have to worry about the politics of reelection. Does anyone smell statehood? Whether you do or not, the fact remains that DC statehood has to wait in line behind gun and immigration reform. That is just the nature of politics.