WAMU 88.5 : The Kojo Nnamdi Show

The Politics Hour

The White House re-installs license plates on the presidential limousine recognizing D.C.'s lack of congressional voting representation. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley lays out a package of laws targeting guns. And Virginia lawmakers ponder the future of a controversial rector at the University of Virginia. Join us for our weekly review of the politics, policies and personalities of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

The Little-Known History Of How D.C.'s 'Taxation Without Representation' License Plates Got Their Start

President Barack Obama announced this week that all presidential limos will sport the District's iconic "Taxation Without Representation" license plates, just ahead of Inauguration Day.

But the idea to use the protest message on the city's official license plates originated years earlier -- and the Politics Hour played a starring role.

In 2000, D.C. resident Sarah Shapiro sent an email to the radio broadcast, which was then helmed by activist Mark Plotkin, suggesting the city adopt the slogan.

After reading the email, Plotkin led the effort at city hall to authorize the anti-tax license plates. He also persuaded former President Bill Clinton to use the plates while in office.

Shapiro said the idea just popped into her head. "One of the problems with our whole situation is that most Americans have no idea that we're not represented in Congress. So I thought people need to know," Shapiro said.

Though Shapiro said she doesn't expect Obama's decision to affect D.C.'s voting rights, she sees the license plates as symbolic and emblematic of a notable fact.

"Life is made up of symbolism," resident analyst Tom Sherwood added.


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