In October, we informed you that Puerto Rico would be voting on whether to become the 51st member of the United States of America. It appears the majority of voters there may get their wish, but only if Republicans don’t drag their heels and block the process for purely political reasons:
VOTERS may have voted for more of the same in America on election day, but in Puerto Rico they opted for decisive change. In a two-stage plebiscite—the island’s fourth referendum regarding its relationship with the United States—54% of the electorate voted to change Puerto Rico’s current status as a self-governing “commonwealth”, and 61% wanted the new form of government to be full American statehood.
[...] The vote will not have immediate consequences. Congress would have to pass a law admitting Puerto Rico for it to become a state. With a fiscal squeeze looming at the start of 2013 lawmakers will have their hands full in the coming months. And the island’s government is unlikely to push the issue aggressively following the election as governor of Alejandro García Padilla, who supports a continued commonwealth.
Moreover, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has little incentive to address the topic. According to exit polls, 83% of boricuas on the mainland voted for Barack Obama. Statehood would add two Senate seats and a House delegation of five, the same size as Oregon’s and probably as reliably Democratic.
Unless the island holds another vote that yields a different result, however, Puerto Rico has now officially requested statehood. If Democrats retake the House in 2014, they would be well-advised to try to add a 51st star to the flag.
As a libertarian-republican with Puerto Rican friends dotted across the country, I say give the people what they voted for.
After all, once Puerto Ricans become full-blown hard-working Americans subjugated by the IRS like the rest of us, they will certainly not be so enthused about the Democrat Party’s nonsense core tenet of redistribution of wealth.
Update: A commenter here at HoT aptly points out that all is not as it appears.
José writes, “Puerto Ricans did not vote for statehood. When you add the votes in favor of independence as well as the blank votes which were casted [sic] in protest, along with those also casted [sic] in protest in favor of a sovereign comonwealth [sic], statehood just got the typical 45%.”
He continues, “Now, you’re probably asking yourselves why would anyone vote a certain way in protest? The answer is very simple: the Commonwealth option was NOT incuded [sic] in the referendum.”
The status referendum results do indeed show that while a majority chose to change the status of their country, a minority actually chose statehood with 480,749 casting blank protest ballots. “55% of the residents of Puerto Rico REPUDIATED statehood.”
“They just want to fix what they have so they can sustain their own economy without having to endure the indignity of Washington’s handouts.” I couldn’t agree more.
And yes José, I like spending words (especially for making corrections and clarification), I hope you’ll oblige a few more.