DC, Represent!

by Vikram Surya Chiruvolu
November 13, 2008

A webpage humbly offered in the spirit of Thomas Payne's Common Sense and all the Founding Fathers' pamphlets.

What's the problem?
The most fundamental principle in the US Constitution is the right to the Representation of two Senators and a Rep.  It is why the US Capitol Building stands as the most prominent symbol of democracy around the world, yet  the very people who sweep its floors and guard its halls have no representation there, if they live in DC. By the often strained processes of politics, law, and history, despite paying full Federal taxes, DC Residents remain the last disenfranchised class in America. 

Can we realize a simple, no-drama solution?
Yes, we can!  This page is in no small way inspired by the election of Barack Obama to our Presidency -- he  believes in innovative, down-the-middle solutions that come from the People, which display goodwill, common sense, and an aversion to drama.  The country wants this too, but it really needs to see clear-headed examples of how it can work. President-Elect Obama -- a Constitutional Lawyer by training, but a doer by temperament -- has said he believes its time to just get this long-standing wrong resolved, but only if we can do it without hurting the country as a whole. The two wars, the economy, healthcare, and the green revolution, are much more complex and time-consuming, and we really ought to focus most of our nation's brainpower on those. 

We agree, and we have a way.

How can we get Representation for DC Residents?
It's simple: DC Residents' votes would count as Marylanders for Congressional purposes only -- with no other change to existing DC, Maryland, or Federal governance structures whatsoever. 

Note especially that this is not DC Statehood, not Retrocession, and not DC-MD Dual Citizenship -- no complex negotiations or legislation would be required, no re-engineering of government structures, no budget changes, and no turf battles.

ll it would take are three carefully composed one-sentence laws being enacted simultaneously by DC, Maryland, and Federal government. In a word, teamwork!  The laws are firmly within the guidelines of the US Constitution for Congress, as well as within the rights of Marylanders to enact as an amendment to the Maryland Constitution, as well as allowed by the DC Home Rule Charter.

In fact, its simplicity is the hardest part.  We just have to look at this with a fresh mind, peeling away the tangled mess of rivalries, resentments, and confusions, that have built around the issue.

The solution itself just requires each American, and especially Marylanders, to make a conscientious choice: is it time we end disenfranchisement in America for once and all? 

Each American, except of course those who happen to reside in DC -- remember, we have no vote in the matter in Congress.  Just as in the 1860s and 1960s, whites voted for the rights of blacks when they couldn't, or in1920, when men voted to give women the vote, its up to Marylanders and the nation to give DC Residents the vote now.

We believe America's and Maryland's answer to this will be a resounding yes --  and these three simple laws could be enacted in all three bodies by overwhelming if not unanimous votes.

What exactly would be passed into law?
We'd have the following trio of one-sentence Representation for DC Residents Laws, in their respective voting bodies:

  • In Maryland legislature:
    [As an Amendment to the Maryland Constitution, requiring 3/5 vote of both Maryland legislative houses]
    Should the US Congress and the District of Columbia allow, the State of Maryland will recognize residents of DC as People of Maryland for purposes of Congressional representation only, which entails, for the primaries and general election for US Senate, residents of the District of Columbia may run for office if qualified, vote for candidates, and have their votes tallied into the statewide total, and for Maryland's delegation to the US House of Representatives, Maryland will apportion one seat to the District of Columbia along its present borders, and certify the election result from the DC Board of Election to Congress.
  • In US Congress:
    Should Maryland and the District of Columbia governments agree, residents of the District of Columbia may be considered as People of Maryland only for purposes of Congressional representation, and the Clerk of the House will add the District's population to Maryland's for purposes of seat apportionment, beginning with the 2010 Census.
  • In DC City Council:
          Should Maryland and US Congress allow, District residents may be considered People of Maryland for purposes of Congressional representation only, so the date of both primaries and general election for Senate and House seats will be scheduled to coincide, and the result reported by the DC Board of Election to the Maryland Board of Elections for certification to Congress.
Can it really get done politically?
  • the US House and Senate are now strongly Democratic, and it would require only a majority vote of Congress
  • the Maryland House is 73% Democratic and Maryland State Senate is 70% Democratic, and it would require a 60% vote there
  • the incoming President and the Maryland Governor are Democratic

How might the change be implemented?
The changeover to Representation for DC Residents will be done in line with established Congressional, Constitutional procedure for changing representation.

For the
House of Representatives reapportion, after the 2010 census, the Clerk of the House will calculate how many representatives each state gets based on population. The difference is, this time, he includes DC's population in Maryland's total.  In anticipation, Maryland will have set aside one Congressional district along the boundaries of the present District of Columbia. Then, DC would conduct its election as it now does, but now also report its election result to the Maryland Board of Election so they can certify the list of Representatives it will send to Congress. 

In the Senate, the Maryland legislature and DC Council would allow, from 2010 on, DC residents to vote for and run for an open Maryland US Senate seat, and these votes would be tallied into the Maryland statewide total. So DC interests in the Senate would be represented by Maryland's senators, just as those Senators currently represent residents of Annapolis, Baltimore and other Maryland cities.

Why involve Maryland at all?
DC used to be made up of the Maryland towns of Washington and Georgetown, before Maryland gave them to the US federal government in 1791; in fact, Maryland had the District within its 3rd Congressional district until 1830, though DC residents weren't allowed to vote after a certain point, between 1801 and 1805. DC is a small 68-square mile area on the southern edge of Maryland, which is 12,400 square miles -- or about 180 times smaller, and DC's population of 580,000 or so is about 10% of Maryland's population of 5.6 million.  DC is bordered to the Northwest, Northeast and Southeast by Maryland.  DC has population demographics similar to the areas of suburban Maryland that surround it, and geographically, culturally, historically, and economically, DC has been part of Maryland to varying degrees for its entire existence.  No doubt, DC is a distinct federal city, but its relationship to Maryland is in many ways like the one between any city and the state around it.

Virginia also gave some 31 square miles of its territory in 1791 to be part of the District, the town of Alexandria.  However, due in large part to the politics of slavery, Alexandrians organized their  secession from DC to Virginia in the 1840s. Historians politely call this 'retrocession', but one could argue its effect on DC has been analagous to the effect the secession of the South from the Union would have had on the Union, if it had succeeded. In any case, the result today is that the people who live in what would have been the District in northern Virginia have representation through Virginia, but the descendants of the people who did not secede from the District, who now who otherwise would be part of southern Maryland, have no representation through Maryland. 
The Constitution requires Senators and Reps be organized and chosen by the States, and, for all these reasons, Maryland is the natural choice for the state that DC's Congressional Representation should be organized through.

What would this mean for Maryland-DC relations?
It would be a firm commitment to improve them through the development of a greater sense of responsibility, connection, and partnership,
recognizing we have a special relationship marked by shared history, geography, culture, population, economics, and mutual interest in each others' well-being.

What would Representation for DC Residents be like?
First, especially for Statehood activists, we'd have to exercise patience and humility to realize the net effect is that we get the exact same representatives that residents of every other US city enjoy, within the Constitutional structure already established for representation, but we'd likely still keep the extra 2 votes in the Electoral College from the 23rd amendment unless someone wants to go to the trouble of repealing it, which is unlikely.

Then, we just have to get used to the idea that DC residents be represented by the Maryland Senators, which is not so hard if you imagine it--DC residents would be represented in Congress a lot like how Boston or Dallas, with two Senators and a Representative.  The only difference from other cities is that the House seat is apportioned to DC by the State of Maryland, with Congressional approval. The City of DC would retain its special identity as the Federal District, with its present administration.

Most important, we just need to stop fighting for special treatment of any kind -- nobody is going for it, and it takes people's focus off the basic reality that half a million Americans on US soil have no representation in Congress.  We need to start fighting to be like everyone else under the Constitution -- two Senators from a state, and a Congressperson from our district.

Why would Marylanders support this?
They have long advocated full franchise and equal rights for all Americans.  For the years from 1791 when Maryland ceded DC lands, until an 1805 Supreme court ruling, Maryland actually already did allow DC Residents to vote in its Congressional elections. Uriah Forrest, a Georgetown resident, was chosen to represent Maryland's Third District in Congress in 1793-94, and later he served as Clerk of the House 1801-1805.

Now, we the disenfranchised residents of DC are asking Marylanders for the service and sacrifice of sharing some of the time and attention of their Senators with us, so we can have a voice.

If free-Staters (Marylanders) have any adversity from it, it will be minimal compared to the serious harm done their neighbors in DC and the fabric of the nation by continued lack of Representation -- and Marylanders must also know on some level that a vibrant, strong DC will deliver far greater benefits to Maryland and the nation than Marylanders could get by leaving the status quo.

Yet the cynic might say: it really could be a lot more work for the Maryland Senators to represent DC, so we wouldn't be represented as nearly well.  The reality is, the work of the Senate is such that two Senators can also represent areas with three and five times as many towns and overall population as Maryland, like New York and California.  In this case, we'd be adding one city, which has about 10% of the population of State of Maryland.

Then the cynic says: DC's something of a special city because it is not part of Maryland and has its own distinct interests.
Also true -- this would require increased cooperation and strengthened bonds between Maryland and DC Residents to work, and that's just exactly what we're asking for -- goodwill, partnership and connection with Maryland in Federal representation.

Then the cynic says: No -- Marylanders should think in terms of protecting their narrow self-interest at the expense of the rights of others.

We believe that has never been what Free-Staters aare about, and won't be now.

What might be the future impact of Representation for DC Residents?
Once implemented, a tradition that could be established would have the DC Representative in the House and one of the Maryland Senators serve as standing Co-chairs of their respective DC Oversight Subcommittees, to institutionalize local accountability on the Congressional level.  With faith that our representative democracy will work, as DC is increasingly strong and better-governed from within and not meddled with from without, these Committees would evolve into having increasingly hands-off approaches, out of the same respect for local autonomy that tempers Congress from meddling in local affairs in the rest of the nation.  However, in DC's case, Congress would retain the right to intervene in any circumstance the country really requires, likely only when the interests of the Federal government need to be served or where DC would need Federal authority to carry out its business.

What harm has come from lack of Representation for DC Residents in the past?
DC Resident's lack of Representation has left Congress to feel free (and even at times obliged) to experiment with DC policies, to the disregard and detriment of its residents. One oft-cited example, is that needle exchange programs to reduce HIV transmission were shut down.  This is just one of hundreds of harmful Congressional interventions into business that everywhere else is handled at the city and state level, interventions which otherwise would never have happened if DC Residents had representation on par with every other American.  In many cases, it's been a life-and-death matter.
  David Schwartzman's piece on Statehood and Human Rights as well the DC Statehood Greens defense of statehood have lots of great detail on this.

Payne wrote in Common Sense,
There is something exceedingly ridiculous in the composition of [unrepresentative government]; it first excludes [the ruler] from the means of information, yet empowers [it] to act in cases where the highest judgment is required.
In Payne's case, the unrepresentative government was the monarchy, and the ruler was the King.  In ours, it's a Congress without peers who is charged with representing the residents of DC -- it  doesn't have the information that only comes through the advocacy of duly elected and empowered Representatives who are equal peers in its ranks. 

We honor and heal America by redressing this history of wrong toward the residents of its capital.

How does this solution relate to other proposed solutions?

  • No Representation
    Just not fair or Constitutional for DC residents, but advocated by the less civil elements of our society due to the political/racial makeup of DC. Tragically, their view has prevailed so far despite their power being on the wane, due to lack of simple, clear, good alternative.
  • Retrocession
    Just as Alexandria and Arlington rejoined Virginia before the Civil War -- done by the way to perpetuate slavery there --
    what is now DC could now fully return to Maryland, but this would likely be a messy, slow, difficult process that few people really want to undertake. There is just no good motive for dismantling and reorganizing the systems of DC governance that have evolved, nor the mechanisms for their evolution.
  • Semi-Representation: Just House Representation but no Senate
    his where DC gets a voting House Representative but no Senate vote -- there's no clear Constitutional basis for this as Representatives are supposed to be from States. But it's an approach favored by some good, forward-thinking pragmatists as a first step.  And it is.  But I have to wonder, why do something that likely requires the work of a Constitutional Amendment to go halfway if there's something which doesn't which goes all the way? Further, the proposal now is to do it by adding Reps to the House -- but, frankly, nobody really wants more Reps -- 435 is plenty!
  • DC Statehood
    The country is strongly against it. I'm not so sure, but I do believe we would be wise to create a new Constitutional type of state -- the city-state -- to support it, and that we won't be able to do this without real Representation in the Congress.
The Representation for DC Residents approach brings together the key benefits of the current approaches, with far fewer of the drawbacks:
  • simplicity of the No-Representation approach, without disenfranchisement
  • the bonds of friendship between Maryland and DC of Retrocession, without the complexity of integrating bureaucracies
  • the franchise of the Semi-Representation approach, without the special Constitutional shift for a non-State
  • the increased local autonomy of the City-Statehood approach

How is this legal?

When compared to all the other options,  the Representation for DC Residents Act is the most within the spirit and letter of the law, with the least additional complexity.

In the US Constitution:
  • The US government and all States have a duty to not abridge and to equally protect the citizenship rights of all Americans, including DC residents.
  • Congress has very broad powers over the District, so they are empowered to allow DC Residents' votes for Senate and House to be handled by the state of Maryland
  • Maryland has control over its selection process for Senators, and can choose to include DC votes if it so desires
  • Maryland has control over its district apportionment process for Representatives, and can choose to draw one district along the boundaries of DC if it so chooses
  • The courts cannot give DC residents remedy as Congressíonal authority is to exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever concerning the District; no judge in two centuries has been willing to be seen as doing anything that "legislates from the bench" on this out of respect
By Maryland Constitution, it determines what are its qualifications for voters and candidates for any office, as well as how its Congressional district lines are drawn and administered, and can change either permanently by a 3/5 vote of both houses of legislature.

By DC Charter, its City Council may direct the DC Board of Elections to carry out specific functions.

Why not DC Statehood?

This is the longest-advocated and best-known of the limited, partisan set of options we've had, and many great people have a lot invested in the idea. Now I personally am definitely not opposed to city-statehood -- I just don't think the compelling, clear case is here for it yet. However, unlike me, polls have regularly shown most of the rest of the country is strongly against DC Statehood.

In fact, I count myself as a member of the DC Statehood Greens and DC Dems, and believe wholeheartedly in the cause of full franchise -- and every single Statehood advocate I know deeply has  their heart in the right place.  However, I've only met Statehood advocates from DC -- there aren't many around the country.  You'd think there would be with this being such a major civil rights issue.  But there's a deep intuition that people around the country have that Statehood, while great for DC, might not be good for the country, and this is reflected in the national polls. 

owever, there is an important Constitutional case for why it shouldn't get statehood, which I think has some merit. 

DC Statehood would create the nation's only city-state, and that too in the nation's capital -- a city-state which would then be the nation's 50th most populous state (with Wyoming 51st) and 51st by land area (by a factor of more than 20 times smaller than the 50th, Rhode Island), along with the 3 Presidential Electoral College votes DC won in the 23rd Amendement.  This is a whole lot of power  I agree City-Statehood could be just great for the residents of the District for a time -- but I genuinely fear it could be too great.  I also think it could be

A flood of money and power would come in, and alter the balance of power between the nation's capital city-state and the remaining states in unpredictable ways, and that could be deeply challenging to the constitution of the nation, with a lowercase-C. Though DC Residents are now disenfranchised, Washington is already an extremely powerful city, and it would become markedly moreso with Statehood. My intuition is the Founders would have us guard against such an imbalance, and the rest of the country senses it too.

Furthermore, we just haven't thought through whether this new city-state should serve as a model for others, should New York City or Chicago seek admission to the Union, and the resulting complexities of having two essentially different types of states within the United States -- one landed and one urban.  I do think it's possible there could evolve a really good case for city-states if the method of Representation for DC Residents proposed here proves to have some serious gaps that city-statehood would likely resolve.

Around the world, residents of federal capital districts are also partially controlled by national legislatures, but function well -- so long as their people are fairly represented as peers in the government. While DC is under more control than the States, all of us have to comply with acts of Congress and consent to be ruled in that way for the privilege of participation in the Union, and we do enjoy significant benefits the States do not.  That said, I do of course want the same level local autonomy just like other American cities have, and believe it is a likely future the District, and that we'll have the mechanism to redress it through Representation if not.

If that redress is required,
we'd have to deal with the fact that, though it's not specifically written into the Constitution, it is part of our national constitution that we have only admitted larger, landed, states to the Union, never a city-state, and grapple with this directly in collaboration with the other States of the Union.

What about redress of DC residents' grievances about Congressional mismanagement of the district in the past?
The historical record shows there surely has been a colonial and racist mentality in Congress toward DC over the past two centuries, and that it has been very bad for the city's residents -- though this has been on the wane since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and the approval of the DC Home Rule Charter in 1973.  Still wounds are there, but they heal best when exposed, set right, and everyone can move forward positively, remembering the past but not resenting it.  We will have our chance to set things right through our Representation like every other citizen, to push Congress for changes toward greater local autonomy.

How can No Representation really be the state of affairs in the USA in 2008?
Ugh.  It's really complicated, confusing, and dramatic. So here's the short take: the Founders created the District as part of the Constitution in 1790 at a time when they were just trying to constitute and hold together the nation,  a time when most people couldn't actually vote, and they just couldn't think it all the way through, so they gave Congress broad powers to try do the right thing over time.  Maryland and Virginia ceded DC property to the Federal government in 1791, and Maryland actually continued to allow DC Residents to vote in its Congressional elections -- until a Supreme Court ruling in 1805 which said DC residents were no longer Maryland or Virginia citizens for purposes of law enforcement.

At that point, Congress could have voted to give DC Residents this specific right to vote for Congress within their respective original states
. But they didn't, and they also did not put any mechanism for local elections. At the time, the disenfranchisement of a few farmers was too small a concern for a large nation with lots of growing pains to go through.  By that point, DC was its own separate entity culturally from Maryland, and everything that has been proposed to resolve this lack of Representation in the last 100 years has drawn people into various interesting, but ultimately ineffectual divisions -- often seemingly with the intent to fight for something rather than agree on anything -- so the problem has just never been redressed. 

 Many web authors have written that in 1801 Congress severed the bond between Maryland and DC residents, but it actually did the opposite -- the initial act of Congress governing DC left all the laws of Maryland intact and just set up courts to administer them legally.   John Adams was in a hurry to get it done as it was being signed into law five days before Jefferson was to be inaugurated.  So the law was murky on whether DC residents had a vote for Congress -- they were governed by the law of Maryland and Virginia on one hand, but the courts of DC on the other, and had nothing specific granted or denied with regard to voting.  It seems even after the 1801 Act in which Congress took power over DC, Washington residents could perhaps vote in Maryland as the Maryland 3rd District lines included DC until the 1830 redrawing.  Uriah Forrest was a DC resident chosen by Maryland to be a Representative in the 3rd Congress, and was also the Clerk of the House from 1801-1805.   

However, the 1805 Lamar v. Reilly Supreme Court ruling, which declared that under the law at that time, residents of DC did not enjoy the right of Maryland citizens to be protected from insolvency lawsuit. This was interpreted to mean DC Residents could no longer vote for Congress in Maryland either. In any case, it would've been up to Congress and Jefferson after 1801 to establish a mechanism for elections in DC, but neither did. DC Residents have been denied franchise in Congress ever since, despite many attempts to lobby, legislate and litigate.

What are the relevant laws?

Since there are three laws that are proposed to go into effect, we have to consider Constitutionality in all three cases. The key relevant clauses are:

  • Article I, Section 2, House Composition:
    The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.
  • Article I, Section 3, Senate Composition:
    The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.
  • Article I, Section 8, the Enumerated Powers of Congress:
    The Congress shall have power:
    ... To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States ...
  • Article 5, Amendments:
    The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.
  • Amendment 14, Section 1, Citizenship and Equal Protection:
    All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
  •  The Maryland Declaration of Rights, which include:
    We, the People of the State of Maryland, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberty, and taking into our serious consideration the best means of establishing a good Constitution in this State for the sure foundation and more permanent security thereof, declare: ....

    Article 7: That the right of the People to participate in the Legislature is the best security of liberty and the foundation of all free Government; for this purpose, elections ought to be free and frequent; and every citizen having the qualifications prescribed by the Constitution, ought to have the right of suffrage.
  • The Maryland Constitution, in which Article I, Section I, Elective Franchise:
    All elections shall be by ballot. Every citizen of the United States, of the age of 18 years or upwards, who is a resident of the State as of the time for the closing of registration next preceding the election, shall be entitled to vote in the ward or election district in which he resides at all elections to be held in this State. A person once entitled to vote in any election district, shall be entitled to vote there until he shall have acquired a residence in another election district or ward in this State

What's the case history of this issue?
Basically, for two centuries, the same result: no judge has been willing to "legislate from the bench" to grant much of anything to DC residents, because of the clarity of the Constitution that ''Congress shall have power to exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever''.  Jeffrey Thomas Dodd's Law and Society Review at UCSB article entitled Curing Disenfranchisement in DC (pdf) covers many of the cases, as does Eli Zigas in The Courts Won't Grant DC the Vote (pdf).

Where can I find out more?

I am a friend to anyone who seeks positive change on this issue, whatever your viewpoint, and will link to anyone who asks to be mentioned here. Here are great resources, broken down by topic.

  • Library of Congress' text of The Organic Act of 1801, which said "the Laws of the State of Maryland, as they now exist, shall be and continue in force of the said district, which was ceded by that state to the United States, and by them accepted as aforesaid"
  • Reilly v Lamar, a Supreme court case which said "By the separation of the District of Columbia from the State of Maryland, the complainant ceased to be a citizen of that state, his residence being in the City of Washington at the time of that separation."
  • The writings of American U Constitutional Law Professor Jamin Raskin
  • H.R. 4193 of 1990 proposed this method of representation but never left committee
History: Opinion: Other orgs:

What now?
We must fill up our heart with hope and know we can be the change, so we band together and begin. 

I just put up this page and emailed a close group of friends about it on November 13, 2008.  Some things we can specifically do:
- excercise our rights to free speech and assembly, and plan some meetings to bond a core group of supporters < done
- give the effort a name and structure,
DCRepresent.org is presently available and I feel could be a good name and online home < done
- create a plan to raise funds and draw in supporters, including
forming a PAC and/or 501c3 to advance this < in progress
- get lawyers, lobbyists, legislators and public officials to weigh in with feedback < in progress
- put together a campaign strategy of approaching local stakeholders, media, and the nation at large < in progress
- ideally, coordinate a short meeting at the White House with every key stakeholder -- DC Mayor, DC City Council Chair, MD governor, MD legislature speakers of the House, MD Senators, and a representative of the Congressional Republican and Democratic caucuses, and of course the President -- to ensure everyone is on the same page in support of the plan, and to commit to just  getting it done

lease, whatever you do -- don't ignore our best chance in a generation to get Representation.

What could happen if we really succeed?
The President-Elect could use this to serve as an early example of how we can go about solving those bigger problems also previously thought intractable -- in his first year, he could ask that these three votes be taken on the same morning in the DC City Council, the Maryland legislature and both houses of Congress, and then signed into law in a White House ceremony by the Mayor of DC, the Governor of Maryland, and the new President, perhaps that same afternoon.  The new administration could proudly say it listened to the NetRoots and closed one of the last big lingering wounds of the racism and resolved the last unfinished business of firmly establishing federalism in America  -- that we started the work close to home, by cleaning house.  And, we DC Residents can celebrate that day each year going forward as the end of two centuries of disenfranchisement!

DC, Represent!


Payne wrote Common Sense as a small pamphlet in plain language, styled as a sermon with Biblical quotes, which successfully communicated to people of his day, mostly farmers. For you, I've created a FAQ webpage with links to the supporting information.  Let me know if this succeeds in speaking to you.

Special thanks to my wonderful teachers--Mrs. Mary O'Brien, Mrs. Thompson, and Miss Carol Lange of TJHSST--who first inspired in me the faith that any concerned, informed citizen could and should think, write, and contribute this way on behalf of our great country.