Credit: Photograph by Lydia DePillis

In 2011, everyone in D.C. politics suddenly paid more attention to our colonial status. First, the folks on Capitol Hill nearly flooded the streets with uncollected garbage: Under a federal government shutdown, D.C. wouldn’t have been permitted to spend local dollars on basic services. The deal that averted the crisis was no great shakes, either: President Barack Obama used the rights of low-income D.C. women as a negotiating chit with House Republicans, agreeing to ban Washingtonians from using their own tax dollars to fund abortions. At times, though, it felt like the real reason Vince Gray and more than half the D.C. Council got arrested protesting for statehood had less to do with fairness and more to do with reelection. Standing up for statehood is considerably more popular than raising taxes, driving Lincoln Navigators, answering questions about Sulaimon Brown’s city job, or any of the other things D.C. politicos did to make news in 2011. Just ask Michael Brown, who’s running a pro-statehood website out of his D.C. Council office, and who happens to be up for another term. But so what if it’s a convenient dodge? The District’s treatment by the federal government actually is as egregious as they say it is—which means that this ploy, unlike other escape routes politicians seek out, makes good sense.