The Dakotas, the District, and Identity

Recently, there has been a bit of activity around D.C. statehood. Whenever this happens, someone comes along and ‘D.C.-splains’ how D.C. should just be folded into Maryland (Thanks for the tip! We’ve never heard that idea before!). Leaving aside the political and operational realities of that move, such as Maryland doesn’t want this or one advantage to D.C. statehood is that Democrats would gain two Senate votes, it is incredibly unpopular among Washingtonians. Not in a ‘that would be kinda weird’ way, but absolutely unpopular. Washingtonians identify strongly as Washingtonians*. In fact, more than a few Marylanders (and Virginians) view themselves as ‘D.C. residents in exile.’ The whole ‘DMV’ moniker, standing for the District and the surrounding area, draws heavily on the District’s identity, not, let’s say, Mclean, VA’s.

I mentioned two Senate seats above. A while ago, I heard Bill Maher, talking about California’s underrepresentation in the Senate, quip, “Do we really need two Dakotas?” (yes, Maher, on the whole, is an asshole, but he is correct about CA’s Senate representation). So do we need two Dakotas? I’m not making a declarative statement in the form of a question, I genuinely wonder if North and South Dakotans feel an attachment to North and South Dakota respectively (I know one person from ND who left and has no desire to return, so I’m not sure she counts). As above, if we leave aside the political and operational considerations, do North and South Dakotans identify strongly with their states, or would they be fine with a ‘Dakota’? Dunno.

*While this sometimes is phrased in racial terms, I don’t think that’s really the case. In my experience, this is a strong sentiment among natives (black, Latino, and white) and transplants.

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1 Response to The Dakotas, the District, and Identity

  1. Aaron Barnes says:

    While I too know a handful of ex-pat Dakotans (and a mess of folks still attached), I know zero of them who think of themselves as anything other than “ex-South Dakotans” or “ex-NoDaks”. Much like the Carolinas, Northern-vs-Southern California, or Yoopers vs the rest of Michigan, it’s all about your Tribe. Even if you don’t like them much ……

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