To the Editor:
This Friday is tax day, or as those familiar with the problem facing District of Columbia residents call it, Taxation without Representation Day. That a population greater than Montana’s continues to have no say in the federal legislature that has ruled it for more than 200 years is an embarrassment to this nation and its republican ideals.
The District of Columbia’s residents, approximately 60 percent of whom are African American, have neither national voting representation, nor home rule. They are subject to a 10 percent sales tax, one of the country’s least effective public school systems, and have the privilege of living in the murder capital of America.
Perhaps before we think about democratizing the rest of the world, we should consider granting home rule to our nation’s capital. When Mexico and five other Latin American countries borrowed liberally from our Constitution to create their own, they too disenfranchised the citizens of their respective capitol cities. Embarrassingly enough for us, all six of these countries have since fixed the problem.
This year on Class Day, Yale’s senior class will have the amazing opportunity to listen to Delegate Norton, the District’s non-voting representative, and the only constitutional lawyer in Congress. In the audience will be not only the future leaders of America, but also those of several countries we routinely chastise for being insufficiently democratic. I sincerely hope they will take what Delegate Norton has to say to heart.
Scott Caplan ’06
April 10, 2005