Let's start with this little known fact: 670,000 U.S. citizens who live in the nation's capital have no voting representation in Congress. (They can vote in presidential elections, although that wasn't allowed until 1964.)
There is a local city council, but every law it passes can be negated by Congress. In fact, Congress can do away with Washington, D.C.'s form of government anytime it so desires.
Former Washington Mayor Sharon Pratt (D) used to often speak of "the arrangement" by which U.S. citizens living in the capital of the "free world" are really "not part of America."
Making the District of Columbia the 51st state is the only remedy for this patently undemocratic and un-American practice. Statehood grants true and complete autonomy and sovereignty.
The journey to D.C. statehood has been going on for quite a while.
In 1978, both houses of Congress, by an astounding two-thirds vote in each chamber, passed a constitutional amendment that would have provided full voting representation for D.C.
But not, I repeat, actual statehood.
It went out to the state legislatures and only 16 states ratified it. It needed 38.
In 1993, the stars were perfectly aligned. As a primary candidate, President Clinton had testified for statehood before the House District Committee. Both the House and the Senate were controlled by the Democrats with overwhelming margins. Statehood required only a simple majority of both Houses.
In the House, Speaker Tom Foley (D-Wash.) and Majority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) gave stirring speeches in support of the bill. But I remember watching as Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) literally grabbed House members as they walked onto the floor, giving them a thumbs down. He was one of two Democratic committee chairs to vote "no," the other being Jack Brooks of Texas.
Ultimately, 152 Democrats voted "yes" alongside one courageous Republican, Wayne Gilchrest of neighboring Maryland, for whom it was "a question of dignity."
The required number for victory, however, was 218.
In the Senate, John Glenn (D-Ohio) blocked a vote in committee and had a non-hearing on the issue, which he deemed to be "informational."
I chronicle all this ancient history because it sets the stage for the sham and fraud that occurred last week at an event that supposedly celebrated the introduction of the 2017 version of the D.C. statehood bill.
The district's delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), was first elected to her position way back in 1990. (As a delegate, and not a representative, she has a vote in committee, but not on the House floor.). Norton is constantly called the "warrior on the Hill."
That moniker implies that she is a genuine and forceful advocate.
The truth is entirely the opposite.
Yes, she talks about D.C. statehood, but that's all she does. At the announcement last Wednesday at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, she proclaimed that the bill had 133 co-sponsors. But no list was provided with names and, more importantly, not one of the co-sponsors was there in person.
If that were not bad enough, she introduced another individual, Sen. Tom CarperTom CarperDems probe claims of religious bias in DHS 'trusted traveler' program Senate Dems want Trump to release ethics waivers, visitor logs Medicare’s coverage decisions need more input from physicians MORE (D-Del.), as D.C.'s "champion" for all his efforts on behalf of statehood.
"Champion"? What a strange and inaccurate label for someone who, in the past, has done absolutely nothing to move the bill.
In 2013, Carper introduced the bill in the Senate, and it went to the committee he chaired. But by his lack of action after that, he proved he was in no way serious about the issue.
Carper waited 18 months to schedule a hearing on his own bill and then, at the hearing, couldn't get even one fellow Democrat to attend (even though, at the time, there were four other co-sponsors).
One senator who was there? Republican Tom CoburnTom CoburnFreedom Caucus saved Paul Ryan's job: GOP has promises to keep Don't be fooled: Carper and Norton don't fight for DC Coburn: Trump's tweets aren't presidential MORE of Oklahoma, who only stopped by to oppose the bill.
After the hearing — no surprise — no further action was taken.
Now, mind you, the Democrats were in the majority in the Senate. Then-Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidWeek ahead: House to revive Yucca Mountain fight Warren builds her brand with 2020 down the road 'Tuesday Group' turncoats must use recess to regroup on ObamaCare MORE (Nev.) was a co-sponsor of the bill and personally told me that if the bill got out of committee, he would bring it to the floor.
At the hearing, even Norton refused to do anything to move the bill. She did not even ask for it to be marked up. In fact, when I asked her if she had talked to any of the uncommitted Democratic senators, she replied, "You go talk to them!"
Obviously, to the present day, Norton and Carper just give false hope to the District's citizens. They have no intention to move or work the statehood bill.
In this charade, Norton and Carper are co-conspirators.
A final point: Recently, I was at a screening of a terrific movie about the civil rights icon and Georgia congressman, John Lewis (D). It was perfectly titled "Getting in the Way." Norton was an invited speaker.
I couldn't help but think that Norton has spent her entire congressional career making sure she never "gets in the way." How sad for those D.C. residents who simply desire full American citizenship.
Eleanor Holmes Norton and Tom Carper both seem to define defeat as victory.
Mark Plotkin is a contributor to the BBC on American politics and a columnist for The Georgetowner. Previously, he was the political analyst for WAMU-FM, Washington's NPR affiliate, where he co-hosted the "D.C. Politics Hour With Mark Plotkin." He later became the political analyst for WTOP-FM, Washington's all-news radio station, where he hosted "The Politics Hour With Mark Plotkin." He is a winner of the Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in writing.
The views of contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.