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Politics

34 Times I Would Have Liked To Call My Senator

A Washington, D.C. license plate
Daniel Slim/AFP/Getty

I’ve only called Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton’s office a few times. I live in the District of Columbia—just like 750,000 other people—and we have no voting members of Congress at all, absolutely no representation. Instead, Norton, a titan of civil rights reform, is our non-voting representative. Her office is full of nice civil servants who will listen to your complaints, but everyone knows it’s futile. She can talk to people on the floor, and try and advocate for us, but she doesn’t get a vote. We don’t get a vote.

The license plates in D.C. read END TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION because we are sick of it. In 2016, the District of Columbia voted 86 percent in favor of making D.C. a state. The only argument for not making D.C. a state is that you don’t think Democrats should have more senators, which is cheating at democracy. It is unconstitutional that we don’t have representation, and it needs to change. Think about how hard the Democratic party fought to win those two U.S. Senate seats in Georgia. The District of Columbia voted 92 percent for Joe Biden in 2020. D.C. is a Democratic stronghold, an all-but-guaranteed bonus of two more Senate seats for the Democrats. But it feels a lot of the time like no one cares.

This might seem distant to you if you don’t live here. It might not seem important. But we are reminded of it constantly. Every single time Donald Trump did something brash and harmful and terrifying, activists would erupt on every platform saying, “Call your senator!” But we can’t. We don’t have even one. Every time, it makes me feel so defeated and small to remember that our government doesn’t represent me and my neighbors.

So here is a list of times I can remember that I have wanted to call my senator in the past few years, when it would have given me just a little bit of peace to tell someone how unhappy I was with the direction of this country:

  1. May 23, 2015: The USA Freedom Act, a bill designed to end the bulk collection of communication data by the NSA, does not pass the Senate.
  2. June 1, 2015: A modified version of the bill passes that does not end the collection of cell phone metadata.
  3. Oct. 27, 2015: The Senate votes in favor of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, which gives companies immunity to spy on their users and report them to the government.
  4. March 16, 2016: Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Senate stalls for 10 months.
  5. Jan. 6, 2017: The U.S. declassifies information about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
  6. Jan 27, 2017: Trump signs the Muslim ban.
  7. Jan 30, 2017: Trump withdraws from Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Deal.
  8. Feb 7, 2017: Betsy DeVos is nominated as secretary of education with a 51-50 vote, with the tiebreaker coming from Vice President Mike Pence.
  9. March 20, 2017: The Senate conveniently begins hearings for Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.
  10. May 2017: Eleanor Holmes Norton introduces a bill for D.C. statehood.
  11. June 1, 2017: Trump announces exit from Paris climate pact.
  12. July 18, 2017: Republican Senate Majority tries to overturn large portions of Obamacare.
  13. Nov. 30, 2017: The New York Times reports that President Trump tried to pressure Republicans to end the Senate investigation into the 2016 election interference.
  14. Dec. 2, 2017: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which radically cuts taxes for the extremely wealthy and big corporations, passes the Senate 51-49.
  15. April 10, 2018: Mark Zuckerberg is questioned for the Cambridge Analytica data breach.
  16. Sept. 27, 2018: Christine Blasey Ford testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  17. Oct. 2, 2018: Jamal Khashoggi is murdered.
  18. Oct. 6, 2018- Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court 50-48 despite multiple claims of sexual assault or misconduct against him.
  19. July 25, 2019: Sen. Mitch McConnell blocks legislation to improve election security.
  20. Dec 18, 2019: U.S. House of Representatives impeaches Donald Trump.
  21. Jan 3, 2020: U.S. military kills Qassem Soleimani in airstrike.
  22. Feb 5, 2020: Trump acquitted in the Senate.
  23. March 5, 2020 Senate approves an $8.3 billion dollar emergency aid package, most of which does not go to citizens.
  24. March 13, 2020: Trump declares national emergency over coronavirus, does nothing.
  25. March 25, 2020: Senate approves another $2 trillion dollar stimulus package, which also disproportionately helps businesses instead of people.
  26. May 25, 2020: George Floyd is killed by Minneapolis police.
  27. July 7, 2020: Trump withdraws the U.S. from World Health Organization.
  28. Oct. 26, 2020: Senate confirms Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
  29. November 2020 to January 2020: Trump makes dozens of baseless claims that he won the election, undermining U.S. democracy.
  30. Jan. 6, 2021: Five people die and more than 50 people are injured after Donald Trump’s supporters storm the Capitol.
  31. Jan. 13, 2021: U.S. House impeaches Trump again.
  32. Jan. 16, 2021: The Trump administration executes Dustin Higgs, the 13th execution of the administration.
  33. Jan. 26, 2021: Sen. Tom Carper introduces another bill for D.C. statehood.
  34. Jan. 29, 2020: Senate Democrats, despite promising a paltry $2,000 to Americans for COVID-19 relief, somehow manage to play us yet again and only plan to give $1,400.

Call your senator, if you’re lucky enough to have one. Tell them our constitutional rights are being denied. Tell them to vote for D.C. statehood. I’d do it, but I don’t have anyone to call.

Correction (6:22 p.m. ET): A previous version of this story had the incorrect amount for the latest COVID-19 relief plan and misstated how many non-voting representatives Washington D.C. has. It has been corrected.