Lame duck Attorney General Eric Holder has sought to make the protection of voting rights, especially for African Americans in the South, a major part of his legacy as the nation's first black chief of the Justice Department.
But that has not extended – at least not successfully – to the District of Columbia, the federal city home to more than 600,000 people who have never had voting representation in Congress.
So a day after announcing his departure, Holder made a fervent pitch for Washington to get its own voting rights during a speech to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.
When I talk about all who want to be heard in the halls of the federal government, I am including the more than 600,000 taxpayers who, like me – like me – live in the District of Columbia and still have no voting representation in Congress.
We pay our taxes. We die in the Army. We have a great representative, and we do not have voting rights. It is long past time for every citizen to be afforded his or her full responsibilities as well as our full right."
D.C. has a single delegate in the House, Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), who has gained national fame in part due to her frequent and hilariously combative appearances on The Colbert Report. But while Norton can speak and protest all she wants, she cannot vote on the House floor, and under a Republican rules change she cannot even vote in committee. (D.C. also has two "shadow senators," but they have even less power and are rarely heard from.)