Charlotte, NC – Washington, DC voters will turn out in droves for President Barack Obama in November and Chocolate City may be his most loyal stronghold, but that doesn’t mean the city is feeling any love at this week’s convention.
DC Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who has spoken at every Democratic National Convention since 1992 found herself unceremoniously booted from the speaker rolls; the party also refused to include explicit support for DC statehood in its platform.
And in an unfortunate symbol of just where the city falls in the Democratic Party’s list of priorities, DC’s delegation is literally seated as far from the podium as possible.
Its not as if places where citizens do not have full representation in the government are being categorically pushed the back – Guam and Puerto Rico had prominent spots in the lower bowl. DC's votes, unlike theirs, will count in the presidential election, though they they have no congressional representation.
Even states like Wyoming, South Carolina, Texas and Georgia – all of which will vote for Mitt Romney by wide margins in November – got better seats.
DC Councilman Marion Barry took to twitter over the last 24 hours to make his displeasure with the DNC known, unreeling a series of blistering tweets calling out the party.
“During slavery, some chose to stay on the plantation. Some chose freedom. What do you choose? Plantation days in DC are numbered. It is time,” One tweet read.
“Does DC's 3 electoral votes mean anything to ANYBODY? Just a question...” Barry said on twitter.
“We faithfully support elections, serve in wars, provide day-to-day support to run this city called DC - yet who has been faithful to us?” Barry questioned on twitter later.
“It was an insult to [DC] personally that our congresswoman wasn’t invited to speak, because it has been a tradition for so long,” Said Anita Bonds, Chairwoman of the DC delegation.
Bonds, said she was pleased that the platform ended up including key elements of statehood – including a voting member of Congress and the ability to set its own budget and laws without interference from Congress.
Still, she acknowledged the issue of DC statehood is “not the more sexy narrative qualities like marriage equality or healthcare that everyone can hold on to. We’re not at the top of the heap.”
The decision to not let Holmes Norton speak or to include a call for statehood for the city was particularly jarring to some Washingtonians given Democrats’ emphasis on voting rights issues in the face of Republican efforts to impose new voter ID laws.
“They’re talking about voting rights … this is the most obvious voting rights issue out there,” said Jesse Lovell, a statehood activist with New Columbia Vision who was attending the convention.
John Stanton is a national reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New Orleans. In 2014, Stanton was a recipient of the National Press Foundation’s 2014 Dirksen Award for distinguished reporting of Congress.
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