No, D.C. isn’t a Case of No Taxation Without Representation

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Wednesday, May 19, 2021


At the risk of stating the obvious, Democrats support D.C. statehood because they want two more Senators. Republicans oppose D.C. statehood because they do not want two more Democratic Senators. These are not enlightened statesmen debating if D.C. statehood is a philosophically necessary endeavor, these are career politicians wanting to either maintain or expand their power. 

On the outskirts of the debate, some at least pay lip service to the philosophical principles that are supposed to guide the nation. One such principle is that of no taxation without representation. Last year, Washington D.C Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a proclamation decrying Washington’s lack of representation in Congress as the same violation of no taxation without representation over which the Founders rebelled against Britain. 

If it is true that the status quo concerning D.C. is a violation of no taxation without representation, then they must be granted representation. However, this is not the case. An examination of the no taxation without representation principle leaves no doubt that denying D.C. representation in Congress is not a violation of it. 

No taxation without representation is not a political principle in and of itself. Rather it is a manifestation of the principle that men, having been made equal and independent to one another by God, must each have an equal say in the creation of laws they will be subject to through either themselves or their representatives.

When men come together and form a new government, they preexist the government. The social contract and the principles of republicanism demand that these men who consent to the new government shall possess the legislative power and shall be granted representation. Furthermore, if pre-existing governments consent to form one government under which they shall all submit, they too are entitled to representation. 

The United States was built in harmony with these principles with the people being represented in the House and the states being represented in the Senate.

Washington D.C. was not included in this, nor should it have been. This is because D.C. was not a pre-existing sovereign who, along with its people, consented to the social contract by which the American republic was born. Rather D.C. was a creation of the very social contract to which the states and the people of those states consented. Not only that, D.C. was created with the purpose of being the federal seat of government, making its nature far more akin to forts and dock-Yards than to states or territories. Indeed, the same clause in the Constitution which gives the federal Congress sole authority over D.C. gives them sole authority over forts and dock-Yards. 

Since D.C. is a creation of the social contract to which the states and the people of those states consented, and because it has a unique purpose for the federal government, it is those same states and people who must have authority over D.C. 

The citizens of D.C. are not in the same situation as our Founders who truly experienced a violation of no taxation without representation. Their situation is far more similar to renting a house or a foreigner being taxed. Yes, the foreigner is not represented, but no one would argue this violates the principle, for he is outside the scope of the social contract that entitles men to representation. 

The glaring difference between the foreigner and a citizen of D.C. is that the latter is American. This is certainly why they should be included in presidential elections, as the President and Vice President are the only elected officials who represent all Americans. But in Congress, representatives and Senators are meant to represent the states and the people of those states. D.C. is not a state, and the citizens of D.C. are not citizens of a state, leaving them no justification to demand representation in a federal system comprised of various states. 

Indeed, as all states and their citizens are entitled to an equal authority over the federal seat of government, to grant D.C. statehood would not rectify a wrong, instead, it would encroach upon the rights of the states and of the people of those states. Of course, the land could just be given back to the neighboring states if representation was the operative issue, but again, this is all about power.

Like with all other excuses the Left has come up with in an attempt to justify this blatant power grab, the assertion that D.C. is a case of no taxation without representation is meritless. If you truly want to uphold the principles of the American Revolution, reject D.C. statehood.

Jack Shields is a student at Texas A&M University. He is a history major and huge Dallas Cowboys fan, with interests in politics, religion, and philosophy.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.


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About Jack Shields

Jack Shields is a student at Texas A&M University. He is a history major and huge Dallas Cowboys fan, with interests in politics, religion, and philosophy.

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