To the Editor:
In the next few weeks, several Yale alumni will send letters to President Levin, urging him to speak up on a gross inequality in our political system: the disenfranchisement of our nation’s capital. I hope this serves as a moment for President Levin, Yale students and alumni to reflect on the District of Columbia’s unique situation in American politics.
Their letters come at a time when Rep. Tom Davis’s (R-VA) proposed bipartisan compromise, the D.C. Fair Act, is gaining traction in Congress. Mr. Davis recognizes the hypocrisy of the status quo: Citizens of the District of Columbia pay all federal income taxes, fight in all American wars and yet have their city run by the federal government. Let me repeat that: A population larger than Wyoming’s continues to have no say in Congress, a body which has at least three representatives from any state. Why else do you think D.C. would have a 10 percent sales tax?
We are the only free country in the world that denies the citizens of its capital the vote. Even countries that have copied our Constitution have since fixed the problem, including Venezuela, a country we routinely — and correctly — chastise for its totalitarian practices. Especially at a point in our history when our soldiers are sacrificing their lives to spread freedom throughout the world, representation for our capital is long overdue.
Now is the time to care, even if you’re not from D.C., or even American. If you think America has a responsibility to be a beacon for freedom, your voice matters. Almost 230 years ago, in what was to be our country’s first capital, we gathered to declare that taxation without representation was no longer acceptable. It’s high time we fulfill the promise.
Scott Caplan ’06
Feb. 1, 2006