THOUGH WE ARE NOT among those who have left the D.C. congressional representation amendment for dead, it certainly has had some severe circulation problems, aggravated at times by its bedside minister. But after his initial overzealous, coast-to-coast lobbying for ratification backfired, D.C. Delegate Walter E. Fauntroy did recognize the need for broader leadership and better organization in selling the amendment to state legislatures. So now there is something called the D.C. Voting Rights Corporation, which includes among its leaders Mayor Barry, Council Chairman Arrington Dixon, local Republications and business leaders.
But just as this group has started to generate some local enthusiasm and money for a vigorous but temperate nationwide ratification campaign, along comes its news executive director with precisely the sort of comment to guarantee public inertia. At a press conference aimed at drumming up local support for a series of "Ratification Disco Night" fundraisers around town, Anthony J. Thompson was quoted as saying that the District is "on target" with its ratification plans" "We have seven years to get the amendment approved, and if we can get six ratifications a year we can meet that deadline."
That's a fine mathematical way to look at it, but quite aside from what it does to fund-raising, it's grossly misleading. Historically, the important period of time for ratification of amendments has been the first two years after congressional passage; and naturally, most of the early support comes from the friendliest state legislatures. So the fact the six states have ratified the amendment already - New Jersey, Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, Massachusetts and Connecticut - by no means indicates that the necessary number of other states will fall into line, six-by-six every year from now on.
It's not a matter of questioning the determination of either Mr. Fauntroy or Mr. Thompson to press for ratification; and the campaign will need all the thoughful help it can attract to improve the mood and understanding of this issue around the country. It's just that so far, the pace - too much too soon, then not enough - has been killing.