September 2018Campaigns

DC just saved the country millions of dollars - now, a favor

For those who think of the District of Columbia as a powerless colony under the thumb of Congress, consider this:  The DC government just killed Trump’s beloved military parade.

Or at least that’s the way Trump painted it.  “The local politicians who run Washington, D.C. (poorly) know a windfall when they see it,” Trump tweeted. “When asked to give us a price for holding a great celebratory military parade, they wanted a number so ridiculously high that I cancelled [sic] it.”

In reality, the $92 million figure came from an interagency group looking into the costs of the parade.  Most of the spending would have come out of the pocket of the Defense Department, with only $21.6 million in expenditures by the District for infrastructure, security and logistical costs.

But Trump blamed DC for raining on his parade (pun intended), even though DOD officials were never enthusiastic about their boss’s desire to play Mussolini.  The $92 million estimate was, if anything, a lowball; everything the government does costs more than expected, usually much more.

Nevertheless, DC lately has been playing an increasingly assertive role in facing down the hostile occupier sitting two blocks away from the Wilson Building, and the Bowser administration was not about to absorb without compensation any of the costs of inflating Trump’s already Goodyear-sized ego.

While DC officials were counting the potholes Trump’s tanks would gouge in Pennsylvania Ave., the District’s attorney general, Karl Racine, along with the government of Maryland, was directing a lawsuit against Trump’s violation of the “emoluments” clause of the Constitution.  That language prohibits officials of the government from accepting gifts from foreign states.  The Trump International Hotel has proved a cash cow for the president as foreign officials as well as domestic favor-seekers patronize the “emoluments machine” and make sure the White House knows it.  Trump dismissed all calls to divest the hotel, which remains a monumental conflict of interest on Pennsylvania Ave.  In late July, a federal judge denied a request by the Justice Department to dismiss the suit, opening the possibility of finding Trump in direct defiance of the Constitution.

From day one, the Trump administration found itself in hostile territory.  The District, and most of the suburban communities as well, are a blue sea surrounding the red federal enclave.  DC and many of the surrounding communities see themselves as proudly progressive. This fact has provided for almost constant conflict between angry citizens and the target of their ire, with demonstrations against the Trump administration having become a near-weekly occurrence.  In and around town, Trump administration officials venturing out into public have attracted the wrath of residents and businesses who spot them, including Designated Liar Sarah Huckabee Sanders being booted from a restaurant in Lexington, Va., and Deporter-in-Chief Kirstjen Nielsen, at the height of Trump’s campaign to separate immigrant children from parents at the border, being spotted by DSA members who confronted her until she fled her table at, ironically, a Mexican restaurant in the District.

Perhaps the greatest display of locals’ disdain of Trump and all that he stands for was the local reaction to the August 12 “Unite the Right” rally, held on the first anniversary of the neo-Nazi march through Charlottesville that ended in the murder of counter-protestor Heather Heyer.  Determined that the Lafayette Square gathering of alt-right and white-nationalist thugs would not go unanswered, some 1,000 activists overwhelmed the pitiful showing of about two dozen fascists, a fraction of the 400 that the organizers expected.  Hundreds of would-be storm troopers turned chicken in the face of a local community ready to stand up to them.

Make no mistake, “Unite the Right” and its opposition were a proxy for Trump and Anti-Trump.  The extreme right sees a kindred spirit in the White House, a bigot who scapegoats immigrants, telegraphs his hostility to minority communities and plays to the worst impulses of his base.  His equating the murderous mob of Charlottesville with the peaceful counter-protestors left no doubt whose side he was one.  His dog-whistle encouragement of the far right caused the Charlottesville and DC marches to happen.  Perhaps the August 12 mismatch will send the Nazis crawling back into their hole.  We can hope.

And so, blue America, DC is on the scene fighting for you.  Now there is something you can do for us:  Demand that your senators and representatives support DC statehood.  If we in the District can mount such an opposition with the rights of only a colony, imagine what we could do with a fully empowered state government and full representation in Congress.  If we already had statehood and the two senators that came with it, Democrats would hold the majority in the upper chamber and Neil Gorsuch never would have made it to the Supreme Court, while Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination would have been dead on arrival.   Trump’s most toxic Cabinet nominees – Betsy DeVos, Jeff Sessions and Scott Pruitt, for starters – would have been turned away from the Senate door.  It’s too late to stop them, but how about letting us help next time?

Republicans have reason to fear DC statehood, which is all the more reason why the left should champion it.  Remember, statehood is not only for DC – it’s for the good of all of us.

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