Posted by Brad @ 11:39 am on March 1st 2010

The Growing Puerto Rico Statehood Rights Movement


But the House Democrats are preparing another push for a referendum on Puerto Rico statehood. Michael Barone gives the case against, which strikes me as more procedural than actual, in that his argument is most Puerto Ricans do not want to be a state, which, if true, ought to make it a non-issue. But the House Democratic bill pushes for a referendum, and it’s unclear to me what margin Barone would accept. I think he and I would probably agree that something such as statehood out to be ratified by a 2/3s, rather than bare, majority. I can get down with that.

The Washington Times argues that the Democrats are trying to stack the deck in favor of statehood, which is probably true. However, their main argument against statehood appears to be that Puerto Rico is not a predominately English speaking country. Which always strikes me, in this context, as a non-sequitur . At least in this case, the Times actually makes something of an argument as to why that would be bad (most seem to just drop it in there as a dog whistle):

From the standpoint of the rest of us mainlanders, major problems present themselves. Most important, Puerto Rico does not consider English its sole official language of government, and islanders predominantly speak Spanish. No non-official-English state has ever joined the union, and for good reason. As Canada’s experience shows, official bilingualism almost inevitably leads to discord and balkanization.

Except I don’t think that’s really true, and certainly not inevitably so. I think that the fact that Puerto Rico is very much its own country and culture would make assimilation into the state system problematic, but the fact that most of its citizens primarily speak Spanish doesn’t strike me as a disqualifier so much as a practical difficulty, on par with, say, the farness of Hawaii or the cut-offed-ness of Alaska.

Anyway, I’m still fine with PR statehood should a pretty good referendum system be implemented and passed, although like Barone, I don’t know that most Puerto Ricans want statehood anyway. A higher priority to me is D.C. statehood. That over half a million East Coast residents get no say in their local or national government is beyond insane—I still have no idea how the Supreme Court doesn’t step in and force a solution (still my favorite—technically folding the non-government parts of D.C. into Maryland).

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