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Founding Fathers Didn’t Want South Dakota, Critics Tell Senator Against D.C. Statehood

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Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) is facing an online backlash after he invoked the Founding Fathers to oppose statehood for Washington, D.C. The issue has garnered renewed attention as Congress heard testimony about the idea this week.

Like many of his Republican colleagues, Rounds is against making D.C. the 51st state and tried to paint it as a power grab by Democrats. However, his decision to cite the Founding Fathers led to criticism.

“The Founding Fathers never intended for Washington D.C. to be a state,” Rounds tweeted on Monday. “#DCStatehood is really about packing the Senate with Democrats in order to pass a left-wing agenda.”

Rounds also highlighted voter registration in D.C., noting that the district was heavily Democratic.

However, many critics quickly pointed out that Rounds represents South Dakota—a state that was created after the Founding Fathers died.

“The Founding Fathers also never intended there to be a Dakota Territory, or split it in two,” tweeted author James Fallows.

“The only reason Sen. Rounds has a state (SD) to represent is late-19th-century political deal to split the territory into two, explicitly to pad the number of likely GOP Senate seats.”

“The founding fathers were dead before South Dakota was a state,” said Daily Beast editor at large Molly Jong-Fast. She shared screenshots from Wikipedia showing that South Dakota became a state in 1889 but James Madison, the last surviving Founding Father, died in 1836.

The Founding Fathers never intended for Washington D.C. to be a state.#DCStatehood is really about packing the Senate with Democrats in order to pass a left-wing agenda.

Just look at the DC voter registration data:
🔵 76.4% Democrat
🔴 5.7% Republican

— Senator Mike Rounds (@SenatorRounds) March 22, 2021

“Anyone want to venture a guess as to what the principal benefit to the Dakotas being split into two states was?” said political commentator Brian Taylor Cohen, hinting at the fact that splitting the Dakota Territory into two states in 1889 now provides political benefits to Republicans in the form of four Senate seats. Both states are reliably red.

“My thought on DC statehood is that the founding fathers didn’t want it to be a state, but then, our founding fathers thought only white dudes with property should vote and black people only counted as 3/5 of a person, so maybe we should admit they didn’t always get it right,” tweeted author John Scalzi.

Those sentiments were shared by other social media users, who argued that the Founding Fathers would also have opposed votes for women and Black Americans.

“The Founding Fathers denied the vote to the majority of the citizens, which included native or indigenous ppl. And all non property holders. Let’s move on,” said Donna Brazile, former chair of the Democratic National Committee.

“The Founding Fathers never intended for me to be free,” tweeted Bernice King, CEO of Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.

“Pretty sure they never intended to end slavery or give women the vote either so…” said Mehdi Hassan, host of The Mehdi Hassan Show on MSNBC.

The issue of statehood for D.C. is likely to remain a live issue as Democrats push to pass voting reform with HR 1 with advocates on both sides calling on the Constitution and the Founding Fathers to make their case.

Senator Mike Rounds, a Republican from South Dakota, speaks during a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee confirmation hearing for Denis McDonough, U.S. secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) nominee for U.S. President Joe Biden, on January 27, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Rounds has been criticized for invoking the Founding Fathers to oppose D.C. statehood.
Sarah Silbiger-Pool/Getty Images

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