By Bernie Quigley
For The Hill, 12/26/12
The Huffington Post reports that a bill to move the District of Colombia toward statehood has been introduced in the Senate. Buzzfeed says “the 51st state would be called New Columbia” and be granted full voting representation in the Senate and House. A group called DC Vote has launched a White House petition to call on President Obama to support. It is indeed time that DC voters become fully enfranchised as the 51st state. But it is also high time that the nation’s capital be moved from its quaint antiquarian, eastern enclave to the center of our country. Louisville would be the perfect spot for a “new District of Columbia.”
In earliest days Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. were correctly viewed as the centers of America; benign centers of countervailing regions, nominally North and South, with dividing overviews; industrialization and manufacturing in Hamilton’s NY, provincial agrarianism in Jefferson’s South. So Victoria balanced Canada and Washington the Colonies. It was the perfect marriage of “harmony and tension” with these organic opposites held together by a benign center; a center intended to be free of the anxieties and warring oppositions of either and providing a holistic connection to both. But once it was filled with its own warring forces, the center had been passed through.
And that was not today with Joe Lieberman’s bill, cosponsored by Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). I couldn’t help notice that these lions of the Senate are all liberals. Obviously, they seek new liberal Senators by colonizing DC, much as the Southern secessionists in the 1800s hoped to bring new states in from South America to counter the North. The center had already been compromised by then. It is obliterated today. The armies of journalists today who gather in D.C. are fully partisanized; a “nerd prom” in Sarah Palin’s phrase, and Mark Steyn, who speaks passionately for mainstream conservatives, claims that there is not but one worth listening to.
Our states have lost their center and that is because the western states have risen to relevance since post-war and we are no longer a North/South country. But truly today we are an East/West country. We no longer look exclusively across the Atlantic to the rest of the world and not a day goes by when the Pacific doesn’t rise to greater relevance. It is elementary that America come into rebalance and greet face to face the rising century, coined the “Pacific Century” by Ambassador Mike Mansfield. The western states and regions must be met as equals in a new balance of east and west. Already there are grumblings in the heartland and the west, which clearly suggest those of the Jackson period and beyond.
My suggestion, a Supercommittee of Governors and former governors to discuss from those who have already brought the issues of western relevance and state sovereignty to the public forum: Arnold Schwarzenegger of California who compared California to Athens and Sparta in his inaugural address, Rick Perry of Texas who questions why a state with a surplus must support those in deep and growing debt, Sarah Palin, who singularly rose Tea Party issues of heartland America to relevance, Butch Otter of North Dakota, Jodi Rell of Connecticut who with Arnold challenged the feds on auto emissions and Nikki Haley of South Carolina. Three men, three women, to meet to discuss in Louisville on the great, historic Ohio River, the center of America and the world surrounding: East, West, South and the Great White North.