In Congress, HR2499 is set for a vote on April 29, 2010 which many believe will inevitably lead to Puerto Rico becoming the 51st state. Whether this is a good or bad thing is beside the point. The point is, you have probably heard absolutely nothing about this. Who wants this? Pundits variously accuse both Democrats and Republicans as chasing the goal of creating additional voters loyal to their party. One of them is wrong. Read on to see how this is about to occur. Here is the official summary of the bill:
10/8/2009–Reported to House amended. Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2009 – Authorizes the government of Puerto Rico:
(1) to conduct a plebiscite giving voters the option to vote to continue Puerto Rico’s present political status or to have a different political status;
(2) if a majority of ballots favor continuing the present status, to conduct additional such plebiscites every eight years; and
(3) if a majority of ballots favor having a different status, to conduct a plebiscite on the options of becoming fully independent from the United States, forming with the United States a political association between sovereign nations that will not be subject to the Territorial Clause of the Constitution, or being admitted as a state of the Union. Prescribes the eligibility requirements for voting in the plebiscite.
I’m going to summarize what I’ve garnered from numerous sources. Just Google “H.R. 2499 puerto rico” and read for yourself, but here is how it apparently shakes out.
First, PR has on three occasions in the past voted on the question of “Do you want to become a state?” and it has been voted down all three times. Now look at the question in No. 1 above: “Do you want to continue the current status of PR?” and of course, an easy answer is “No.” Heck, ask that generic question about the U.S. and you’d probably get a “no” vote.
Now look at the three choices:
- becoming fully independent from the United States,
- forming with the United States a political association between sovereign nations that will not be subject to the Territorial Clause of the Constitution, or
- being admitted as a state of the Union.
Many commentators make the point that 1 & 2 are unpalatable and the obvious choice, of the three which the PR voters have to choose among if they say “no” to the current status, is statehood.
Apparently a political party has been formed in PR that is ready to roll with the statehood idea and have approved the “Tennessee Plan” for accomplishing it. What? The “Tennessee Plan?” The short answer is that without admission to the union being voted on in the U.S., they do as Tennessee did: elect representatives and senators and show up in Washington and demand to be seated. And Tennessee may establish the precedent for doing this. Ever crashed a party to which you wee not invited? Google “tennessee plan admission union” and find many resources on that approach.
Google it and read for yourself. But if you want to call your congressman, do it tomorrow! In the meanwhile, here’s a thorough and cogent explanation (read the whole article):
Alex Castellanos’ post discussing the Puerto Rico Democracy Act (HR 2499) correctly points out that “the principles of democracy, inclusiveness, and self-determination belong to all U.S. citizens.” What he misses, however, is the Puerto Rican government’s plan to rig their election by eliminating the commonwealth option in their next series of self-determination elections.
Puerto Ricans have rejected statehood in the last three self-determination elections, and independence is extremely unpopular. The strategy to virtually eliminate as an option for voters Puerto Rico’s current status as a commonwealth, leaving only independence and statehood as options, will all but guarantee a statehood landslide. The plan is spelled out in their legislation (pp. 7-8) and can be found here. The New Progressive Party (PNP), which is pro-statehood, controls all branches of government. There is little doubt that this bill would become law soon after the U.S. Congress passes the Puerto Rico Democracy Act.