Obama and Trump could help D.C. with just a signature
Some of the most powerful people in Washington could generate a massive pro-D.C. statehood victory just by signing on the bottom line. Where’s their signature needed? Not on a piece of legislation. Not yet.
President Trump obviously could help that way. But, believe it or not, it’s not too late for former president Barack Obama to help. And it is not too late for Michelle Obama to help, either. An Ivanka Trump or Jared Kushner signature would also fit the bill.
How could a single signature from anyone in this diverse group of the District’s most powerful residents generate a victory for the D.C. statehood movement? If that signature were to be on a D.C. voter registration form.
When a voter who has moved to the District from any of the 50 states registers to vote in the District, he or she literally is signing away the right to elect someone to Congress. We all learn in school that our federal government has three branches: two elected and one nominated. Not so for District voters. If you are from another state, it is a unique, infuriating and humiliating experience to sign a D.C. voter registration form, knowing full well that you are being forced to abandon a critical component of your democratic rights. Congress approves our taxes (which D.C. residents pay) and declares our wars (which D.C. residents fight), but D.C. residents have no vote there.
Critically, few Americans outside of the D.C. area understand that more than 680,000 of their fellow Americans have no vote in Congress. National ignorance of our voteless plight is the single greatest barrier to progress on this front.
Were a Trump or an Obama to sign a D.C. voter registration form (ideally at a high-profile event, perhaps at a venue with resonance for the District, such as the Wilson Building), that single gesture would arguably generate more publicity for the voting rights movement than any event in history.
The VIPs on the list above have either reached the peak of their political careers or deny they have any future political ambitions. That eliminates any political risk from temporarily abandoning home-state voter registration.
When the Obamas or Trumps eventually return to Illinois or New York, we would fully expect them to register to vote there. But, in the handful of years that these critical, high-profile individuals make the District home, they would be doing our cause a monumental service with a simple signature on a mass-produced government form.