Is one of the nicknames locals use for Washington, DC.
If you’re wondering why I am writing about Washington, DC, well, in some ways, our Nation’s capital is as much caught in the Middle as anywhere. Just like there are two kinds of almost everything (cat people and dog people, beach people and mountains people, night people and morning people) there are two DC’s. There is the Federal City, with its highspeed professionals in expensive outfits, PDA’s glued to their hands, buzzing around in cabs and eating hotel breakfast/ lunch/ dinner for free. Then there is “Real DC” the City that is a City, with rich and poor, shabby and chic, kids going to school, ordinary people working ordinary jobs, hope the paycheck lasts to the end of the month.
The two Cities exist in an imperfect parallel, like circles on a Venn Diagram, overlapping somewhat with large portions isolated from the other. There is definite crossover, no doubt. But one wonders from time to time when listening to the conversations in the Halls of Government or when reading the Washington Post, if the movers and shakers have taken a look at what goes on in their own City. No reason to dwell in a Theory Vacuum, the Real World is right in front of you—and not just the Pretty Kids living in that DuPont rental.
There’s no doubt that Real DC benefits from its other identity as Federal City. There’s lots of extra cash in Federal Appropriations every year for DC that no other State or City gets. Plus, all those tippy-top of Government types and their lackeys hanging in your town means plenty of food and beverage tax, hotel tax and lots of entry level jobs. These days, DC has been struggling against the downsides, though. The Feds hold their pursestrings—that’s why Federal Government Shutdown = DC Shutdown—no paychecks, no trash pickup. Congress has the power to review and reverse legislative and regulatory action of DC government. And there is the lack of voting representation in Congress. Last Plantation.
So, how to close the Doors of the Last Plantation and open a Window to a New World of Statehood? Well, among other things, I think it requires DCists to set themselves free. In part, because I don’t think anyone is going to do it for them. And, to that, I think DC has been doing just that for some time. It’s a slow crawl from little more than an administrative outpost for Congress and the White House to Homerule to Statehood. DC Government is fairly sophisticated these days, whatever you have to say about Tony Williams, Adrian Fenty and Vince Gray, in all the places I’ve lived, I never seen such a hard working succession of political leaders, and I’ll say that for the City Council as well.
Another piece of the puzzle—awareness outside the District. Awareness that over six hundred thousand people (most of them U.S. citizens, born and raised in this country, many of them multi-generation Americans) lack some of the basic, undisputed constitutional rights the rest of us do, simply because they live in a particular ten mile square piece of land near the U.S. Capitol and the White House.
Perhaps the greater point here is that Democracy is an evolving process, never perfect, always improving? Not sure, maybe fifty-one years is a long time, maybe it’s time for another star on that flag, another kid in the club. He’s been asking nice for a long time to join the game, he’s in the Middle of it, why not let him in?