Monday, June 12, 2017
If Puerto Rico Becomes The 51st State, Does That Mean The US Picks Up All Their Debt? That Would Be Enough To Vote NO!
In a landslide vote Sunday, Puerto Rican voters approved a referendum that stated the Caribbean territory ought to request statehood.
The Wall Street Journal reported that 97 percent of voters who went to the polls said the island should become the nation’s 51st state. However, there was historically-low turnout for the vote; only 23 percent of registered voters cast a ballot amid a boycott from two out of three of Puerto Rico’s major political parties, which could hinder efforts for Washington to recognize Puerto Rico as a state.
“An overwhelming majority voted for statehood. Today we are sending a strong and clear message for equal rights as American citizens,” Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said, according to NBC News. “This was a democratic process and statehood got a historic 97 percent of the vote.”
However, Héctor Ferrer of the Popular Democratic Party — which supported the boycott — said that “statehood-ers shot themselves in the foot.”
“Eight out of 10 voters went to the beach, went to the river, went to go eat, went to go hang out, went to church, but they sure didn’t go out to vote,” Ferrer said at a press conference in San Juan. “Gov. Rosselló is now going to go to Washington and say this (statehood) is what people wanted. But we’re going too to say no, that’s not true and the numbers speak for themselves.”
The next step would be for the governor to put into what’s known as the “Tennessee Plan,” which is one method by which territories can lobby to become states. The governor will select two senators and five congressmen to travel to Washington to persuade the government to recognize it as the 51st state.
According to Newsweek, six other states aside from Tennessee have used this method to attain statehood — Michigan, Iowa, California, Oregon, Kansas and Alaska. New Mexico failed in its attempt to exercise the Tennessee Plan in 1850, although it would later be granted statehood in 1912.
According to The Hill, President Donald Trump expressed a willingness to consider Puerto Rican statehood on the campaign trail. However, while the Republican Party has traditionally supported Puerto Rican statehood, conservatives may now be concerned that doing so would add two senators and seven electoral votes from a state that’s voted overwhelmingly liberal in recent years.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Puerto Rico will stay that way. In a great irony, Alaska’s statehood back in 1959 was directly tied to Hawaii’s, since lawmakers believed Alaska would vote Democrat and Hawaii would be reliably Republican. That state of affairs hasn’t taken long to reverse itself.
A bigger problem might be the low voter turnout. Newsweek noted the official plank of the Democrats is that they would only recognize statehood if it were decided through “fair, open and democratic elections.” The low turnout for the referendum — particularly given previous plebiscites in 1993 and 2012 had far higher turnout — means the actual will of the people is somewhat unclear.
However, what happened Sunday could be the first step toward the first new star on the flag in over a half a century — and a major shakeup in the American political landscape.
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