Jack Kemp makes the argument about Washington, D.C. voting rights that a less honest man would only make facetiously.
"I talk to members of Congress about this and they literally walk away, saying the bill is unconstitutional. Unconstitutional? They voted for the Patriot Act!" Kemp says.
This is… sort of true. A Republican like Louis Gohmert can spend Monday through Thursday trashing the Fourth Amendment and making a mockery of the Commerce Clause. On Friday he'll metamorphize into Ron Paul, blowing up a section of the Constitution to argue that D.C. can never, never-ever-ever have voting rights. Kemp is blunt about the politicial reasons.
"A presidential veto on this would consign the Republican Party in perpetuity to 8 to 10 percent of the black vote."
Actually, that's not true. There's no evidence that black voters around the nation care about D.C. voting rights. But the Republican opposition presupposes that black voters will always vote for Democrats. If the party had any confidence it could win back black voters, it would lean toward enfranchising D.C. The city could be a petri dish, packed with political consultants who could test out their theories about winning black votes, blessed with a small population of black conservatives and libertarians (like my friend Tony Williams) who'd have a motivation to get involved in local GOP politics. About 26 percent of D.C. businesses are black-owned, for example, compared to 13 percent in Mississippi, which has a black population of 40 percent to D.C.'s 57 percent. The potential for a serious Republican Party to test its appeal to black voters is obvious.
Also, part of the GOP's problem with D.C. votes is that national disenfranchisement disincentivises the city's transients (which include people who'll live in the city for 4-5 years but are always talking about leaving) to register to vote in the city. Add those 20-30,000 voters to the rolls and you've immediately got more competitive elections.