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I agree with your conclusion in "Post-Barry Washington" (May 29) that "democracy's capital should have functioning democratic processes." Historically, however, democracy's capital has been anything but democratic. Since 1801, D.C. residents have been denied equal representation in their own national legislature. This long-standing disenfranchisement is at variance with every core principle of this nation.
And despite the District of Columbia's population of some 540,000 people - a population comparable in size to the state of Vermont - D.C. residents are represented by only 13 council members. Compare that to Vermont's 180-member state legislature, plus its representation at the municipal, county, special district, and federal levels. This lack of local representation in D.C. cripples the body politic and undermines the first principle of good governance: a government truly accountable to its people.
Also, Congress has always denied the District the right to negotiate reciprocal taxing agreements with its two adjoining states, Maryland and Virginia. Those that work in the District, yet live in Maryland and Virginia, do not pay taxes to the District. This inequity costs D.C. up to $500 million annually. Because the District's tax base is so narrow, US taxpayers are now forced to pay for the cost of funding its courts and prisons. If the District possessed such taxing authority, the price of supporting the courts and prisons could be borne by the District itself.
Nothing less than equal congressional representation, a responsive and expanded legislature, and full economic rights will make Washington, D.C., the true capital of democracy.
Sharing the news with children
One of my routines on coming home after work is to read The Christian Science Monitor. Many times my six-year-old will come and talk to me. The other night I realized what a pleasure it was to be able to have him look over my shoulder and not have to worry about him seeing unnecessary pictures of violence and the like. We are able to share world events and other news of interest together without having to worry about what he will see. Thank you, I appreciate it.
David R. Kerr
Southern Republican women
The significant growth of the Republican Party throughout the South has been evident at both the congressional and the state legislative levels as described in "South Will Rise Again, This Time to GOP Beat" (May 28). This move by conservative white voters to the GOP, however, has done very little for women in elective office in this region.
According to the Center For American Women and Politics at Rutgers University in New Jersey, the proportion of female members in Southern state legislatures is only two-thirds of the national average. Republicans now hold 40 percent of total Southern legislative seats, but only 30 percent of the female seats.
At the congressional level, Republicans now hold 60 percent of Southern seats in the US House of Representatives, but only three of these seats are held by females. That means that GOP Southern women in Congress are at a level less than half that for women in the rest of the nation.
Progress for women in elective office has always been slower in the Southern United States, but it could be even slower if the current situation in the GOP in the Old South continues. All the more reason for the Republican Party to recruit, train, and support more female candidates in these Southern states and elsewhere.
George A. Dean
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