Whether or not Puerto Rico becomes the 51st state obviously isn't a big story on most people's must-read list. But I've been following the story ever since I became a journalist, and it sort of fascinates me. I've seen several referendums over the years and, if memory serves, the pro-statehood vote usually hovers somewhere just below 50 percent, with the percentage in favor gradually easing up. Granted, the results are hard to read sometimes. In a 2012 vote, statehood was favored by 61 percent of the 54 percent who did not want to continue territorial status. Free association was chosen by 33 percent and independence by 6 percent. Good luck on that math.
The current vote, it would seem, was following the same pattern. In pre-election polls, statehood was favored by a slim majority, and it didn't seem to be a very enthusiastic endorsement. But then the votes were tallied, and an astounding 97 percent voted in favor of statehood. That is truly breathtaking.
Of course, there is a major caveat. Only about 23 percent of the voters actually showed up, the lowest turnout of any election n Puerto Rico since 1867. (That could be an argument in favor of statehood right there, since it seems the territory has already achieved the voter enthusiasm levels of most of the current 50 states.)
But even if we could accept the vote as an authentic representation of Puerto Ricans' feelings (and obviously we can't), that is not an automatic step on the path to statehood. The question of statehood would be up to Congress, and there are at least a couple of major stumbling blocks. For one, Puerto has accumulated massive amounts of debt that this country is not eager to take on. And second, the territory is mostly Democratic, so the Republican in the White House and the GOP majorities in the House and Senate will not be eager to add its voters to the current electoral mix.
Puerto Rico, in other words, is like the worst of the blue states we already have, and who wants that?
I have a suggestion though.
The current worst of the blue states is California, which keeps making noises about seceding from the union. So I say let California go, and replace it with Puerto Rico, keeping the number of states at 50. We won't be affecting the blue state-red state balance, and Puerto Rico has a lot fewer moonbats, so they'd be able to do a lot less damage.
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