Charles I. Cassell, who combines a passion for jazz with an ardent advocacy of D.C. statehood, has written new lyrics to the tune of "Our Day Will Come," imagining a time when New Columbia exists.
Our day will come
In the House and Senate
We'll have voting power
And we'll control our budget.
The people's will cannot be ignored for long
Statehood must pass
Our day will come.
And so on. But many consider this view as dreamy as the song of high school love from which it is taken.
Much of the attention on the statehood issue so far has been over the creation, adoption and amendment of the controversial constitution written in 1982 by the D.C. Statehood Constitutional Convention, which Cassell headed.
D.C. Del. Walter E. Fauntroy only reluctantly supported approval of the statehood referendum by voters in November 1982, and then only because Congress could change the constitution and send it back, he said.
Now Fauntroy and others are in the process of toning down the document considerably, eliminating some of the more novel guarantees such as the right to a job at public expense, the guaranteed right to abortion and the constitutional right to engage in unorthodox sexual activities.
But no matter how bland and innocuous they make the proposed constitution, the philosophy that guided the original is not likely to go unnoticed when the issue hits the floor of the House and Senate.
While the opposition hasn't organized yet -- and why should it have? -- experienced lobbyists and supporters figure on having to fight Moral Majority-types, who in the past have succeeded in getting Congress to overturn what they viewed as the city's unacceptably liberal ideas on sexuality, and gun control opponents, who object strenuously to the District's strict limits on ownership of firearms.
These tend to be more emotional issues than the high-toned appeal to the principle of representative government and the city's "moral position" that Cassell says will sell statehood to otherwise disinterested members of Congress from places like Iowa and Utah.
At the same time, the lobbying effort for statehood is unformed.
Some statehood supporters are counting on the grass roots network of a national coalition of labor, religious and civil rights groups formed to promote the dying D.C. Voting Rights Amendment. That amendment would give the city two senators and congressman with voting rights in Congress but would not make the city a state.
But this coalition has 62 member organizations, and only eight have endorsed statehood for the District.
Mary Jane DeFrank, executive director of the Self-Determination for D.C. coalition, which has supported the voting rights amendment, said it could take a year just to get all the member organizations in the group to poll their members or hold conventions so that they can take a position.
One of the most politically significant members, the Democratic National Committee, already has backed statehood, however, DeFrank said.
If the coalition does eventually focus its efforts on statehood, it would be easier to lobby Congress than the locally oriented state legislatures, she added.
Cassell and DeFrank both talk about the need for an educational period if statehood is ever to get through.
The District's statehood movement really started only six years ago, Cassell said. The drive for Hawaii, the last state admitted into the union, took half a century longer than that, according to the coalition.
Any new idea takes time just to seem less strange, statehood supporters point out.
After all, jazz -- Cassell's other longtime love -- was once considered bizarre and radical.