I have voted in every election that I have been aware of since the moment I turned 18. I would say every election, but teens are fickle and it’s hard to know for sure. I like voting, and more than that I like to have rights. Today, though, is the first time in a decade I will vote for a representative in the U.S. Senate.
I have not had the privilege of voting for a senator since I voted for Democratic candidate Paul Sadler in 2012. Sadler was running in Texas against Ted Cruz. I waited almost an hour outside of a building on the University of Texas campus to vote for him. He lost, of course. But until today, he is the only senator I have been allowed to cast a ballot for.
That’s because I moved to Washington, D.C. after college in the spring of 2014 for a job, found a great apartment, and stayed in it for eight years. Because I chose to live in the District, I did not get to have representation in Congress. Just for emphasis, let’s sit here for a minute. Had I chosen to live in Northern Virginia, like the young white conservatives who move to the area, I would have had representation. But because I chose to live in the city, I did not get any. According to the 2020 census, 712,000 people live in Washington, D.C. That’s more than Wyoming and Vermont, who each have two senators, and a mere 10k less than Alaska, which also, like every other state, has two senators.
D.C. has been able to vote for president since 1964 but continues not to have any voting representation in Congress because of unconstitutional, ridiculous semantics. Specifically, Republicans don’t want D.C. to have representation because it votes very, very Democratically. The district went 92 percent for Biden in 2020, and I have to assume that the remaining 8 percent of those voters work for Republicans on the Hill, because I never met one of them. While I lived in D.C., I was enraged about not having a senator. I had no Congresspeople at all for the entirety of the Trump presidency. In 2021, I made a list of 34 times during my life in D.C. that I would have liked to call my senator. So I knew that it sucked. I was very aware of how bad it felt to be reminded constantly that our votes didn’t matter as much as everyone else’s.
I moved to Philadelphia in the spring, just in time to miss the registration for the primaries. Immediately, I felt a surge of sadness seeing the promotional material and getting the ads. I felt sad for the people of D.C. who deserve to have a senator, and sad for our country that could have two more Democratic senators if it would just recognize the 2016 D.C. vote in favor of statehood.
Today, I will vote for John Fetterman, one of the first politicians I’ve felt excited to vote for in a long time. If he wins, I will call his office all the time. I will beg him to lobby for D.C. statehood, and to codify the right to abortion, and to lift people out of poverty. I will call his office so much, he will get sick of me! If he loses, it will be devastating for all of us in so many ways. But I will still call the office because whoever sits in that chair, whether I like them or not, will be my senator.