Loose Lips

D.C.’s Muddled Message to the World

D.C. voting rights advocates often bemoan the fact that few people in the rest of the country know that the District doesn't have a voting member in Congress and can't spend its own money without congressional approval. If only they knew! the thinking goes, D.C. would have statehood, or at least something more than it has now.

Any attention to the District's lack of representation in the country's legislature is welcome news: witness the joy that greeted President Barack Obama's decision to put the District's "Taxation Without Representation" license plates on his car. It's also why the message the city chooses to put outside the Wilson Building on Inauguration Day is kind of a big deal. As the president makes his way down Pennsylvania Avenue, the city has a chance to let more people know that their capital city is getting a raw deal; the Wilson Building occupies prime real estate and lots of camera angles.

So what does the District come up with? This message, attached to the front of a reviewing stand constructed for the parade (which reportedly cost $342,000): "A More Perfect Union Must Include Full Democracy in DC."

Yikes. Full democracy? Sounds nice, but what is it, exactly? Did the committee that came up with the truncated "drum major for peace" quote on the MLK Jr. Memorial come up with that line?

If even a single person unfamiliar with the District's lack of voting rights gains a sudden understanding because of that banner, LL's boss will get that whole phrase tattooed on his forearm. Promise.

Photo via @mayorvincegray

  • Tom M.

    This is one of those "designed by a committee" messages. A compromise no doubt.
    Compromises are listless on the floor.
    They cannot sing, shout, or compel attention.
    Why didn't they double down "Taxation without Representation"????

  • truthbetold

    "Taxation without Representation" should had been the common theme to stay with.

    President has the tags and the theme should have carry on at the Wilson Building!

  • jim

    With so many people in our city hungry, unemployed and homeless; how can any elected official justify this? Please tell me?

    These folks have their head up their buttocks.

  • Jesse

    What would you have the banner read instead (or no banner at all)? Setting the issue of cost aside, it's pretty obvious there would have been objections to most any message that is more specific: Statehood for DC, retrocession -- as well as Taxation Without Representation -- used by various opponents of full citizenship for DC residents in Congress who have proposed simply exempting the District from federal taxes.

    For more real information, I recommend giving people information on the New Columbia Admission Act (HR 292), introduced by Congresswoman Norton Tuesday. Members of the DC Statehood Coalition will be out there on Inauguration Day doing exactly that.

    "Complete citizenship -- the right to vote and be voted for in the American Republic."
    Frederick Douglass

  • Ward One Resident

    While I agree they should have just stuck with Taxation Without Representation-theme, if they insistent on going with this one (which obviously they were) it should have at least read A More Perfect Union Must Include Full Democracy FOR D.C. (not in D.C.)

  • Hill East

    If someone on the Council really approved three hundred grand for that sign, no wonder our budget has to be reviewed by the Congress.

  • drez

    agree with Ward One Resident.
    Not sure that I find "Taxation Without Representation" a great slogan either, though. In concept it works, in practice it needs to be explained to people who don't know the particulars of DC's condition. Meaning most people. In other words, it's a (maybe) conversation starter. Not the pithy slogan it should be.

  • Sally

    So which fake CBE company got the no-bid contract to build this thing?

  • DC=DistrictofCorruption

    We could have hired 300 sign tossing artists for the money wasted on that sign. The sign should say, Confederacy of Dunces.

  • RealDC

    LOL... this is stupid and wasteful!

    With Mendelson as chair, gimmicks like this will be standard operating procedures.

    SMH! DC Council needs to stop embarrassing its residents.... ah, just throw the bums out!

  • drez

    It's the same shit that was done 4 years ago. It's not a dc thing so much as it is a fed thing.

  • LOL

    It's the same thing that was done 4 years ago - why is it a big deal now???

    oh, because it's a popular time in the District and no one remembers how outraged they were 4 years ago.

    whatever the cost of this sign is, is chump change to the work going on up at 1600 Penn Avenue!

    I read somewhere that a CBE didn't get the contract lol