Wilson Building carries ‘Full Democracy’ message for inaugural parade

January 16, 2013

(Mike DeBonis/The Washington Post via Instagram)

Updated 2:10 p.m.: As President Obama heads down Pennsylvania Avenue on Monday to start his second term, he’ll be confronted with a political message from the city’s elected leaders.

“A More Perfect Union Must Include Full Democracy in DC,” reads a banner affixed this morning to the reviewing stand in front of the John A. Wilson Building.

Mayor Vincent C. Gray and D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson appeared with members of the District’s shadow congressional delegation to unveil the banner at an afternoon news conference held in city leaders’ $342,000, 151-seat viewing stand.

“We will do anything we can to bring attention to the second-class citizenship to which we are relegated,” he said.

But the gesture generated a few grumbles. Mike Panetta, who served until this month as the District’s elected “shadow” U.S. representative, said the sign was a “good first step” but quarreled with the wording.

“What does that mean to the average person watching this across the country?” he asked. “What does ‘full democracy in D.C.’ mean? We should ask for what we want, which is full statehood in the District of Columbia.”

Gray said the language was developed in consultation with the council, and it ended up being the same as the slogan that appeared on the reviewing stand four years ago. “We decided to be consistent,” he said. “It’s a reference that the president himself has used. We thought it would be something that would resonate with him.”

While city leaders risk being seen as ingrates for pressing POTUS only days after his agreeing to affix “Taxation Without Representation” license plates to his limo, be assured that there are other priorities local leaders would like to see Obama address in the coming years, including more budget autonomy from Congress.

Gray said Wednesday he expects Obama to “become an aggressive, assertive advocate” for District priorities in the coming years, starting with D.C. voting rights.

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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Mike DeBonis | January 16, 2013