The newly adopted Twenty-third Amendment to the Constitution of the United States does not do much by way of giving sovereign power to the eight hundred thousand people who live in the District of Columbia. It does give them power for the first time to vote in a Presidential election, but not to choose their own local government, to make their own local laws, to shape their own local budgets or to impose their own local taxes.
President Kennedy has again urged Congress to remedy this state of affairs through the adoption of a District Charter Act. With t his interview he has submitted a bill, the purpose of which "is to reaffirm, at the seat of our national Government, our basic American belief that government should be responsible to the governed."
Let us face the fact frankly: the greatest single obstacle to the adoption of this bill is the increasingly large Negro population of the District of Columbia and the consequent reluctance of many members of Congress to grant home rule lest the whites by outvoted at the polls. This is not a line of reasoning that does credit to those who follow it. It is, on the contrary, a narrow, bigoted and, in the long run, self-defeating line, and it is particularly shameful that it should be permitted to void the right of self-government in that one area which, above all others, should be a shining example of democratic principle.