D.C. DEL. ELEANOR Holmes Norton (D) has spoken at each Democratic National Convention since 1992 to advocate for the rights of the District. With this year’s convention less than a handful of days away, Ms. Norton has yet to receive an invitation to speak, and the fear is that she won’t. We’ve long recognized the tendency of national Democrats to take the District for granted, but the failure to carve out even three minutes to spotlight the need for fair treatment of D.C. residents is over-the-top insulting.
As of Friday, Ms. Norton had yet to hear whether she would be given, as she has been in years past, an evening speaking slot at the convention, which starts Tuesday in Charlotte. “This has nothing to do with me; this is about the opportunity for a city that doesn’t have a full voice in Congress to be heard,” she told us. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) and local Democratic Party leader Anita Bonds sent a letter to the Democratic National Committee urging that tradition be honored in letting Ms. Norton speak, but they got no response. “No one has given me a logical reason,” Donna Brazile, vice chairwoman of the committee, told us as she expressed frustration with a schedule seemingly so set in stone that time can’t be found to champion “fairness, justice and equality.” She said that she is still hoping a change will be made.
Democrats, of course, are not the only ones to disrespect the District. Republicans at their recently concluded convention seemingly went out of their way to trample on the rights of D.C. residents with what Ms. Norton called the “most hostile Republican language on the District of Columbia in a Republican platform in American history.”
Not only did Republicans oppose statehood and call for changes in the city’s gun laws, but they refused to even discuss voting rights and budget autonomy, positions backed by the local GOP delegation that have received support from prominent Republicans. For instance, Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R), who chaired the platform committee, has advocated for the city’s right to control its local dollars.
The slight from Democrats is nevertheless particularly galling given the loyalty that D.C. residents have shown the Democratic Party. The very least they should get back from that party — one that supposedly stands for the full enfranchisement of citizens — is the chance to air the grievance of their disenfranchisement.