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Extend U.S. democracy to the District of Columbia | READER COMMENTARY

With the recent passage of H.R. 51 in the U.S. House of Representatives, which seeks to grant the District of Columbia statehood, it is time for Senate Republicans to demonstrate to the nation they support American democracy (”The Nation: Republicans Fear D.C. Voters. That’s Why They’re Blocking Statehood,” June 29). Residents of D.C. do not have the legal right to vote. Yes, they can vote for president and they can elect a district representative, but this district representative cannot vote in Congress, merely observe and report.

This is similar to how we treat our territories such as Puerto Rico, American Samoa and Guam. If America is truly the “beacon of democracy” that we claim to be, then why do we continue to deny our fellow citizens the most fundamental American right, the right to vote? As a nation, we have spent an incalculable amount of national blood and treasure to ensure the spread of democracy around the globe. Yet we deny this most basic right to the citizens of our nation’s capital. After 243 years of this American experience, it’s time to let the citizens of D.C. have their fair say in American politics. Anything short would be “taxation without representation.”

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Robert Neff, Baltimore

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