My friend James J. Kilpatrick, in his column "Let the Amendment Sink" (op-ed, Aug. 24), gave the crucial argument for the ratification of the amendment that would give the 700,000 disenfranchised citizens of the District of Columbia a voice in Congress.
Kilpatrick has a hunch--to quote him-- "that the American people simply are not much inclined toward amending the supreme law of their land." He certainly is right on that hunch, since there have been only 16 amendments since 1788, not counting the Bill of Rights. Of those 16 amendments since ratification of our Constitution, six have extended and broadened the right of suffrage--the 15th (1870), the 17th (1913), the 19th (1920), the 23rd (1961), the 24th (1964) and the 26th (1971).
The District of Columbia has a greater population than six states, each of which has two senators and a congressman. Again quoting Kilpatrick, "There is a case of sorts to be made in support of both propositions. Residents of the District of Columbia are, in fact, now treated as second-class citizens. They pay all federal taxes as others do; they are subject to the draft as others are; but they have no vote in Congress on such issues."
The Founding Fathers, in establishing a federal city, could not conceive that Washington would be the permanent home of generations of Americans. As a fourth-generation Washingtonian myself and with a sixth generation of my family soon to start school in this city, I say if Kilpatrick is a conservative worth his salt, he must buoy our struggle for our birthright, not cheer the fact that it is in real danger of sinking.
The six amendments noted above have kept the Constitution alive by reflecting in it a growing conviction that all citizens, regardless of race, sex, creed or place of residence deserve a voice in their national government.
To quote an earlier conservative, "Taxation without representation is tyranny."