Young D.C. Lawyer Seeks More Rights for U.S. Capital’s Residents

Nate Bennett FlemingA young Don Quixote from Washington, D.C.’s Ward 8 seeks a goal that has eluded residents of the nation’s capital for over two centuries: full voting rights and control of their city’s government.

Nathan Bennett-Fleming is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination for United States Representative from the District of Columbia.

The U.S. House member from D.C. gets the title of Honorable Representative and an office in the basement of the Wilson Building, but not much else. D.C.’s Congressional representative isn’t paid and can’t vote or even go on the floor of the House of Representatives.

The limitations on the job desired by Bennett-Fleming, a 27-year-old freshly minted lawyer, are symptomatic of the limits on self-rule under which D.C. operates.

Residents of America’s capital pay federal taxes, but they can’t vote for president, and their two senators and lone House members can only observe duly empowered lawmakers at work. D.C. residents pick their mayor and city council, but Congress can approve or strike down their budget and any laws the city’s elected officials make.

Giving D.C. residents a greater say in their government, both local and national, is Bennett-Fleming’s ultimate goal. As shadow representative, he would lobby Congress to pass voting-rights and home-rules legislation.

His campaign motto sums it up: “Expect More.” Bennett-Flemming expects Congress to grant more recognition of the rights of American citizens in Washington, and he expects D.C. residents, particularly young adults, to campaign more intensely for their rights.

He set those goals during his 2009 campaign for the office. Then, he lost to incumbent Mike Panetta but drew the most votes that any D.C. candidates under age 30 ever had.

This time, the Berkley Law School graduate and child of Greenway Apartments is running unopposed in the primary, and, so far, also in the general election.

Read more at The Washington Post.