Gene Weingarten: Gene vs. the GOP on D.C. voting rights
Were you as appalled as I was by the political incivility and name-calling in Congress over the recent debt-limit crisis? Today, to prove it is possible to transcend partisan differences and actually get something done between political adversaries, I intend to engage — in an open, respectful and constructive way — one of the most evil monsters on the planet.
All you need to know is that I live in Washington, D.C., the only part of the country that has no vote in Congress. (In a wonderful bit of municipal subversion, the slogan on our license plates is “Taxation Without Representation.”) All efforts to rectify this grievous injustice have been stymied by congressional Republicans, who don’t like Washington because it is heavily Democratic. The more staunchly Republican the legislator, the more he resists. I am talking with congressman Jason Chaffetz (RRRRRR-Utah).
Me: You are one of the most outspoken opponents of legislation to give D.C. residents a vote in Congress. I think it would be fair to say that if the D.C. voting rights bill were a rabbit, you would be Elmer Fudd.
Jason: Except I wouldn’t miss.
Me: My first question is — to establish that you are not a humorless buzz-kill bureaucrat — could you succinctly express your opposition to a D.C. voting rights bill in the voice of Elmer Fudd?
Jason: It’s not a state!
Me: That’s not in Elmer Fudd’s voice!
Me: Okay, you won’t fall for that twap. Many conservatives say that they might be in favor of D.C. residents having a vote but that it would take a constitutional amendment.
Jason: Yes, I believe the Constitution is crystal clear on that point.
Me: Aren’t there times when an injustice is so great you have to throw out the rules? Let’s say a man crawls up to a fancy restaurant, dying of starvation. As the maitre d’, would you turn him away because the rules require a jacket and tie?
Jason: Can the restaurant be Five Guys? I like Five Guys.
Me: So the answer is yes?
Me: Isn’t saying that you are for D.C. voting rights but only after amending the Constitution kind of like saying you are for the right to bear arms only if you make the gun yourself out of pipe cleaners and mud? Constitutional amendments are hard and painful to get passed, like a kidney stone. We spent 10 years and couldn’t get one that merely said women were as good as men.
Jason: It’s possible to get a constitutional amendment passed. We’re going to vote on one today on a balanced budget.
Me: That’s not going to pass, either!
Me: I just realized that the “mud and pipe cleaner” thing actually is my stance on the right to bear arms. You’re an arms guy, right?
Jason: I have a Glock 23 and a concealed weapons permit.
Me: Maybe we can show the world that a liberal and a conservative can come together for the common good. Would you support D.C. voting rights if, in return, every citizen of Utah is issued a bazooka?
Jason: Nah, in Utah bazookas are already mandatory. We have ’em in our schools and churches.
Me: Okay, how about if D.C. gets the vote, but the only polling place is in the fancy
French restaurant Citronelle, and you need a reservation?
Jason: Can we make it Five Guys? I like Five Guys.
Me: How about if Democratic votes only count for three-fifths of Republican votes?
Jason: We sort of already have that system. In Utah. What I really think should happen is retrocession. Maryland takes back the District of Columbia. Then you would have two senators, representatives and a governor.
Me: I can see how you’d like that. A Democratic state becomes more Democratic. Doesn’t shift any balance.
Jason: Okay, how about if Nevada takes the District?
Me: We’re never going to agree on this, are we?
Jason: I like Five Guys.