Petition to Rename Ronald Reagan Airport back to Washington National Airport nears 50,000 signatories

Photo by PoPville flickr user Chris Williams

The petition says:

“Tell John Boehner: Rename Ronald Reagan Airport

President Obama just took a small but important step for recognizing the history, culture, and human rights of America’s Native Americans when he decided to rename America’s tallest mountain, Mount McKinley in Alaska, to its original name of Denali.

But right-wing extremists in the Republican party, including House Speaker Rep. John Boehner, don’t see it that way. Boehner announced he is “deeply disappointed” in President Obama’s decision.1 But in 1998, John Boehner and his fellow Republicans in Congress weren’t so hesitant to remove a president’s name from a public landmark when they decided to rename Washington National Airport after Ronald Reagan.

That’s why it’s time to see if Speaker Boehner is willing to stay consistent and rename Ronald Reagan airport back to its original name honoring America’s first president, George Washington.

Tell Speaker Boehner: Rename Ronald Reagan airport back to Washington National Airport.

For generations, Alaska’s Native Americans have called it Denali, meaning “the great one,” while its official American name of Mount McKinley has had nothing to do with the mountain or its history – it was named Mount McKinley by an American explorer in the late 19th century, before William McKinley had even been elected President.2

The honoring of this mountain’s original name, and the native people who have inhabited that land for generations, was long overdue. But that hasn’t stopped John Boehner and fellow Republican members of Congress from staging political outrage and fomenting right-wing anger.

That’s why it’s helpful to send them a reminder that, in a brazen political act at that time, Republicans in Congress themselves pushed through legislation renaming an airport already named after America’s first president, George Washington. And unlike President Obama’s decision, which honors the local people and culture surrounding that landmark, the renaming of Washington National airport was met with resistance from local Virginia residents and leaders. It was also strongly opposed by airport workers themselves, given President Reagan’s role in breaking the air traffic controllers’ union and mass firing 11,000 workers.3, 4 Renaming the airport also resulted in significant costs that were left to local government in Virginia to cover.5

Given Speaker Boehner’s current outrage and disappointment at President Obama’s decision to rename Mount McKinley, it’s time to give him the opportunity to make up for his own past mistakes. Sign the petition and tell John Boehner he needs to be consistent when it comes to naming America’s landmarks.

Tell Speaker Boehner: Rename Ronald Reagan airport back to Washington National Airport.”

105 Comment

  • Boehner may be many things, but a “right-wing extremest”?

    Also, pretty weak to claim the airport was named in honor of Washington… super indirectly at best….

  • Carter National Airport!

  • This is stupid. Really stupid.

  • DC1

    meh… weak petition and “Washington” National is/was a stupid name as well. It’s not even located in the current DC boundaries or the original “Washington County” for that matter.

    • meh…DCA was built by the Federal Government as the airport for Washington DC.

      And if you want to get technical, since it’s built on reclaimed land on the Potamac River, it can be argued that it still is part of DC (much of how many of the trails & parks on the VA side of the Potomac River are still in DC).


    • You must really hate Baltimore Washington International… Do you just call it “I” because its not actually in Baltimore or in Washington? You must really confuse people when you say “I’m flying out of ‘I’ Airport”.

    • brookland_rez

      The land that it is on WAS part of the District that retroceded back to Virginia.

  • “I just signed this petition John Boahner – will you?”

    Be sure to fix the typo in his name (Boehner) before sending off an e-mail.

  • justinbc

    Oh my god people, get over it already. He was an elected President of the US, not some terrorist or pedo. So what if he’s not from your party.

    • yeah! just like nixon! nixon national airport!

    • jim_ed

      Nah, this is a legit beef. A bunch of Ayn Rand worshipping future teabillies swooped in and renamed our local airport after their trickle down messiah, who played a large part in causing the crack epidemic and demonizng DC as some anti-American hellhole. Imagine the outrage if President Obama started unilaterally renaming airports in East Jerkwater, Flyover Country for Marion Barry and Angela Davis.
      That said, this is a poorly written petition, but trying to rename the airport is a fine cause.

      • there’s so much bigotry and high handedness in this comment I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t support a Marion Barry-named airport.

      • @jim_ed. – 1. You are entitled to disagree with his politics, but the fact is that the Senate in 1998 voted by more than 3/4 vote to change the name to honor Reagan. Among the supporters were “future teabillies” like Dick Durbin, Barbara Mikulski, Dianne Feinstein, Harry Reid, Russ Feingold, among others.

      • Well said, Jim Ed!!!

      • Way to sound even crazier than a tea partier. Bravo!

      • justinbc

        Why, exactly, does it matter? Does it hurt your feelings to have to book tickets that go through Ronald Reagan Whatever Name Airport? Do you think it adversely affects tourists coming into the city or something? Why exactly should anyone care enough to remove the name of a 2 term elected President, they just don’t like the guy because he said mean things about their city?

        • Because it was foisted on the airport as a way of nose-thumbing at the District of Columbia (although the airport isn’t actually in the District) and against the wishes of the people who actually lived near and used the airport. There wasn’t some kind of grassroots effort to name the airport after Reagan.

          • justinbc

            Clinton signed off on it, so to act as though it were some single-party takeover is a bit disingenuous. Also, as for who uses it, do you have some statistics which show a majority of people flying in / out are from the D.C. area, rather than coming from somewhere else in the country, or born somewhere else and then moved here, and perhaps don’t care all that much about something named after a POTUS they (or their family) might have voted for?

          • justinbc

            And FWIW, I’ve always just called it DCA because that’s how I book flights (by airport code). I really don’t care what the name is, I just have a hard time understanding why anyone is THAT ANGRY RARRRR about it. Unless you’ve got some wacked out leftist family member who refuses to visit you because he has to fly into “Reagan Airport” I can’t see how it has any real affect on your daily life.

          • The name has no real effect on my daily life. It is a minor annoyance.
            This particular petition is poorly conceived and is never going to succeed, but I’ve never agreed with the Reagan renaming. Maybe it’s less significant to you because you weren’t in D.C. around the time it was being renamed.

          • Clinton signed off when he was not in a very strong position (Monica, impeachment hearings, etc). Usurping the good name of the existing airport by foisting the name Reagan onto National – not a battle he was going to getting involved in given all the other things he was dealing with

        • jim_ed

          Because people don’t want non-stakeholders coming into their community and naming things after someone who explicitly crapped on their city, their professions, and/or their race for political advantage? By this (extremely dumb) logic, you’d be fine if Congressional Republicans renamed H Street as 2 term elected Governor George Wallace Avenue? Likewise, you think Boehner’s constituents would be cool with renaming the street their local Golden Corral is on after Che Guevara or Yasser Arafat? This is a specious at best position to take.

      • There is no need to demean “East Jerkwater, Flyover Country.” Many of us are from such places, and we resent this sneering coastal attitude. Having lived in DC for 15 years, I am more and more convinced that folks in flyover country have more decency and common sense than people in the northeast.

        • And as someone from the NE, please don’t lump DC in with us. It’s mid-Atlantic or southeast.

        • jim_ed

          Considering they elect people who come here and interfere with our city policies that literally cost people their lives (see the recent reports on the needle exchange program they held up forever and how many people needlessly were infected died before it was finally implemented), they have zero leverage to talk to us about decency.

          • Yes, folks in the interior of the country deliberately and consciously elect politicians who are vocally committed to meddling in the affairs of DC residents. I’m sure all the good people of Kansas open their newspaper every day hoping to read about how their elected representatives held up the needle exchange program in DC.

            Your response affirms my point. Claiming they have “zero leverage to talk to us about decency” makes you look uncharitable and uncivil. It is this attitude, this smug and hostile view of other people that makes DC an unappealing place at times.

      • Not to mention their forcing the name change of the Metro station on us. That pissed me off as well.

    • The tens of thousands of victims of El Salvador’s Death Squads that live in the area served by National Airport most likely think of Reagan as a terrorist.

      Methinks that relatives of AIDS victims probably have similar feelings.

      • Dead Salvadorans, as well as Nicaraguans, Guatemalans, Hondurans, Angolans, Argentinians, and many many more. (I know that’s an incomplete sentence.) By the way, this sort of thing is a primary driver of illegal immigration. If you destroy somebody’s country, whether it’s supporting death squads in Central America or jihadis in Syria, many people are going to flee.

        On that note, I’m just as opposed to naming things after Clinton. A million dead Iraqis is no small thing.

  • This is the dumbest things I’ve read all week.

  • I just signed the petition. I lived here when the name change occurred. It was an insult and honoring Reagan at an airport of all places was politics at its worst. I continue to call it Washington National airport.

  • Please change the name back to Washington National Airport. Everyone that comes to visit me from out of town wants to know why was it changed.

  • This is beyond idiotic for so many reasons:
    1. Stop it…It wasn’t named after George Washington
    2. The airport has absolutely nothing to do with Mt. Denali/McKinley
    3. Nothing like criticizing a “brazen political act” with a brazen political act
    4. Most idiotic of all, it’s based on a false premise. The airport is name Ronald Reagan WASHINGTON National Airport. They didn’t take Washington out of the name; they just added Reagan’s name.

    Thanks for dumping this on a Friday afternoon of a holiday weekend. Hopefully it dies here.

  • If you were around when this happened you may recall that this was done by a Republican congress as basically as a slap in the face to DC, all from the party that loves to tout State’s Rights and local control and bemoan the overreach of the Federal government. The most disingenuous notion was that the name would be a welcoming symbol of American “freedom” to international travelers.. at an airport that only has domestic flights. What a load of crock.

    The symbolism behind names, and who gets to name things, is important. I’m not dismissive of that but I’m over “it”. Still though I refuse to call the airport by that’s man’s name.

    Can’t wait to see the hissy fits in Popville when Marion Barry gets his name on something.

  • I say drop the Washington name too. He was a slave owner and genocidal elitist.

    Plus it’s not just a national airport anymore, it’s an international airport, with destinations in Canada and the Bahamas.

    • Washington, D.C. is the only city I know of having the distinction of being named for not one but two different slave-owning elitists.

  • northeazy

    The petition inadvertently points out the only legally significant distinction between the naming of Denali and the naming of Reagan. Congress voted to name the airport. Obama unilaterally named Denali. Politics aside, from a purely legal standpoint, there is no ambiguity that Congress duly voted for the naming of National. It is less clear if Obama had the authority to rename McKinley. But from the sense I get from the petitioner, it seems politics, and not law, is all that matters. Glad PoPvillers ain’t falling for it.

  • Off topic a bit but I find the opposition to the Denali thing to be perplexing. When your party already wears the badge of being the party of stodgy old white guys, why add fuel to the fire by getting involved in an issue like this? Is there that huge silent majority of President McKinley fans that you are courting?

    • justinbc

      Because those stodgy old white guys don’t care that that’s their “badge”, in fact they rather prefer it to be that way.

      • +1. They’re appealing to voters who are of the “This politically correct, multicultural thing has gone too far!” mindset.

    • To be fair, it’s not “Republicans”–it’s Ohio Republicans (including Boehner.) At least in all of the things I read. McKinley was an Ohioan and they see it as a slight against Ohio.

  • They actually didn’t remove his name. The official name is Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

  • Political/ ideologies aside, this is what gets me:
    “Renaming the airport also resulted in significant costs that were left to local government in Virginia to cover.”

    Would the local governments in VA be excited about covering the costs they’d need to assume to rename the airport again?

  • I can support only one idea: Terence McKenna National Airport, or perhaps Joe Rogan International Airport. I know the latter is still alive, but I like his podcast immensely.

  • The EPA Building was recently named for Bill Clinton and he is one of only two Presidents in history to be Impeached and tried in the Senate. Half the country isn’t going to like half the names of things named for former presidents. Thats the way it is, get over it

  • First of all, as stated earlier the name was amended to add RR and not take away Washington. Secondly how is this a slight to DC when the airport has never been in DC proper but 3 miles south in VA, if anything it should be named after VA and NOVA.

    The fact that this many people cannot give basic respect to a twice elected president just because of party affiliation reiterates the fact that our country is divided on both sides and partisanship will not happen anytime soon. As a conservative should I give up my DC United tickets until they remove RFK’s name and call it DC Stadium again?

    • “The fact that this many people cannot give basic respect to a twice elected president just because of party affiliation”

      Like the overwhelming respect that GOP gives to Obama? Or Clinton, for that matter?

  • I was here before, during and after the name change — can’t believe they want to change it back again.
    Also, I think the former name was simply National Airport.
    Not Washington National Airport.

  • Reagan on the 20; Andrew Jackson Washington National Airport. Boom. Problem solved.

  • No, really – this is dumb.

  • Emmaleigh504

    Fun fact: Nancy Reagan made it a mission to get Ronald’s name on as many things as possible. She got “grassroots” campaigns started to do it. That’s why there are so many schools, streets, & buildings with his name.

  • Meh, Any name other that DCA is just a sticker on a wall. So many great comments here.
    The name is “Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport” and it has a Washington mailing address. This petition doesn’t make any sense. It is already called Washington National Airport, just with Ronald Reagan in front of it.

  • The fact of the matter is, Washington was not only a fine president, he was a great president. Reagan? Not so much. Moreover, Reagan would have loathed the fact that an airport was named after him, considering he was a fierce anti-communist and hated those dictators who went around putting their names on everything. Keep calling it National. That’s what it was when it was Washington National, that’s what it should be now.

  • Oy. This, again?

    I like a good righteous rant as much as the next guy, but I just cannot be bothered with this issue. It seems so unimportant to me- call it what ever you want – Reagan, National, DCA, or just ‘the airport – who cares what the official name is?

    Believe me, as a native, I am finely attuned to every infringement of DC rights by buttinksy members of Congress, whether they’re from Maryland or from somewhere so far away that you can’t get there from DCA. But even in that context the renaming of the airport barely raises my blood pressure. It’s not as if it were some beloved DC local institution; no it’s a federal property, owned and controlled by the feds and always has been. They can name it what ever they want, and they did. I’m no great fan of Reagan, but he was president; presidents get things named for them.

    Wake me up when Congress starts trying to rename the Uptown Theater or the Tune Inn or the Wilson Building or something that matters.

    Till then… YAWN.

  • I would LOVE to see this happen, but it won’t. That said, the author of the petition got a key part of his/her argument wrong.

    (1) ‘Washington’ has not been removed from the airport. The official name is ‘Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport’ (lame, I know).

    (2) The ‘Washington’ in the airport name is not after the president, but rather the city (which is obviously named for him, but the distinction matters). Therefore, even if they did remove it entirely they were not setting a precedent that Obama followed with the former Mount McKinley.

    Their argument is weak but the naming of the airport for Reagan against wishes of a large majority of area residents was always BS. It will always be ‘National’ or ‘DCA’ to me.

    P.S. – Pardon me if this was noted in other comments. I didn’t have time to read all of them.

  • I always thought the Washington in Washington National Airport referred to the fact that it’s near Washington, DC.

    But I’m so signing that petition!

  • Until this is resolved, I’m fine just continuing the trend of checking in at the airport on Facebook as Monica Lewinsky National Airport, or when I’m feeling a little bit less cheeky, Kerry Washington National Airport.

  • “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear!”

  • I am not a Reagan fan, but in the scheme of things, he was a president and it’s just an airport. I’m a Democrat, but this seems like something the pettier GOP members would do.

    That said, I agree that there should be something named after Jimmy Carter–maybe the Atlanta airport? (Although that place is a mess.)

  • Back to Washington.

  • As much as I have committed to referring to that airport only as “National” or DCA,” I’m not interested in signing that petition. Among many other reasons, CREDO automatically adds signers’ info to their mailing list and doesn’t offer an opt-out option before doing so. (“You’ll receive periodic updates on offers and activism opportunities.”) The petition almost certainly will not persuade Boehner to do anything at all, but it sure is giving CREDO a PR boost and 50K+ new email addresses.

  • surprised no one has mentioned the irony of the petition writer bemoaning the cost of the original name change…..while proposing a new name change.

  • Ronald Reagan was, at best, an OK president. Iran/Contra occurred under his watch. and someone should’ve paid dearly for that. No one did. In his later presidential years he was clueless about what was going on because his dementia had already progressed.The name of that airport should be Washington National as it used to be.

  • The change in the airport name was not a Presidential change. As was Mount McKinley. The airport name change was passed in congress and signed by President Bill Clinton in honor of President Reagan on his birthday. Also “Washington” was the location name, not in honor of George Washington.

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