January 26, 2013

President’s Obama’s inaugural address was a inspirational tonic for the nation. Uplifting, on point and gracious, it was everything a presidential speech should be. However, as a District resident, I nonetheless also found it to be a source of consternation.

“Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote,” Mr. Obama intoned. The waiting period is important and goes to the heart of voting rights, yet the president’s failure to mention the lack of voting rights for long-suffering D.C. residents added insult to historical injury. 

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, a supporter of statehood for the District, was quoted as saying in response to this, “I’m more interested in him helping us during his second term than whether he mentions us.” Perhaps, but for the president to ignore the plight of the District’s congressionally disenfranchised is telling. Not for the first time, it demonstrates that D.C. residents have yet to help elect a president who’s willing to do whatever is necessary to make them equal citizens with equal rights. Obama’s continuing silence on the matter is not comforting.

Timothy Cooper, Washington

The writer is executive director of World Rights.