The Party must campaign for DC statehood

BY:Jamal Rich| May 1, 2024
The Party must campaign for DC statehood


This piece is a contribution to the Pre-Convention Discussion for our 32nd National Convention. During Pre-Convention Discussion, all aspects of the party’s program, strategy, and tactics are up for consideration and debate. The ideas presented here are those of the author or authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Communist Party USA, its membership, or their elected leadership bodies. — Editors

The people of the District of Columbia are second-class citizens, some even considering themselves colonial subjects under colonial-like conditions with the lack of Statehood or testing grounds for policy that may be enacted around the country. The people of DC have long self-determined that the promise of democracy and enfranchisement in the republic must expand to those who live in the Federal District. Popularly known as “Chocolate City” for many decades due to its majority Black population and self-empowerment with the gains made under Home Rule post-1974 and the mayorship under “Mayor for Life” Marion Berry. Now in 2024, the District is deeply under attack, at risk of Home Rule being overturned by MAGA Republicans and “tough on crime” Democrats. Now is the time to develop an offensive strategy that can forever defeat federal interference in local affairs and advance to first-class citizenship with enfranchisement and representation on the federal level in Congress.

The struggle for municipal-level resolutions has been a tactic the party and other progressive forces have engaged in around the country around a multitude of issues, from a ceasefire in Gaza to ending the illegal blockade on Cuba to Medicare for All. This same strategy could be used in a national campaign where local organizers involved in a national movement for DC Statehood could campaign to pass city and state-wide resolutions calling for the District of Columbia to be admitted as the 51st state of the United States. The party should seriously consider organizing around this as a major battleground for democracy next to states enshrining reproductive rights into their constitutions, expanding the municipal right to vote for immigrants, protecting transgender youth, etc.

Furthermore, I urge the CPUSA leadership to consider an addition to the party’s program, at our 32nd Convention, to include the fight for DC Statehood as a special component struggle in the general fight for democracy in the United States. The District of Columbia is not a colony in the scientific sense, but absolutely has the features of one and has significantly been repressed by the US government for its large Black population and progressive stances. Winning Statehood for DC will advance the fight for socialism in the long run.


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