Before we say anything new on this subject, we have two important reminders.
- Both Republican and Democratic Party platforms support statehood for Puerto Rico.
- Both Democrats and Republicans support statehood for Puerto Rico as cosponsors for statehood bills, and have done so for decades.
In other words,Statehood for Puerto Rico has bipartisan support. Click To Tweet
But now, as we move closer to the presidential election and the statehood vote in Puerto Rico, Republicans and Democrats alike are speaking up on statehood for Puerto Rico.
Democrats reject Velazquez/AOC bill
Nydia Velazquez and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proposed a bill for a status convention which would push self-determination for Puerto Rico years out into the future. Their bill intends to take the place of the plebiscite which the government of Puerto Rico has arranged, and would have a small number of representatives plan a new plebiscite with a yes/no vote on whatever they choose.
Puerto Rico Democratic Party Chair Charles Rodríguez on Friday called on the Democrats in Congress to reject this bill. “The proposed legislation allows a group of delegates to decide and impose an option. In a democracy, we should trust the people to make their own decisions rather than rely on a selected few to decide for the people,” wrote Rodríguez.
“We agree with them that Puerto Rico’s current unequal and undemocratic status is simply unsustainable,” he acknowledged. “We urge you to encourage voter participation in the upcoming referendum called by the elected officials on the island who ran on a platform that guaranteed the people their right to vote to determine their future political status… The upcoming referendum will provide a voice to our people and constitutes a valid form of self-determination.”
Many Democratic members of the U.S. Congress have also spoken out against the bill, including Jose Serrano, Stephanie Murphy, and Darren Soto, among others.
A new poll from Data for Progress shows that 76% of Democratic respondents (all mainland U.S. voters) now support statehood for Puerto Rico. So the Democrats who introduced ed the “self-determination” bill are not only ignoring the will of the people of Puerto Rico and indeed the Democrats in Puerto Rico, but are also ignoring the views of their party on the mainland as well.
Republicans call Puerto Rico statehood “radical”
Mitch McConnell has identified Puerto Rico statehood with “the radical Democratic agenda,” in spite of the fact that statehood for Puerto Rico is actually part of the Republican Party platform. He even has associated statehood with “socialism” in a confused and confusing statement. Other Republicans have claimed that Puerto Rico would be a blue state and therefore they don’t want to allow statehood, even though Puerto Rico would probably be a swing state.
The position that 3.2 million U.S. citizens should not have equal rights in case they vote Democratic should embarrass the Republican Party, but there are plenty of Republicans out there taking that view. Republican Senator Martha McSally told NBC News that Republicans would “never get the Senate back again” if Puerto Rico became a state.
Republicans should watch out — they could end up with a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Which side of the aisle?
So we have Republicans associating statehood with Democrats and Democrats actively fighting against statehood. We can’t rely on one party or the other for this important matter.
Help your lawmakers understand the importance of statehood for Puerto Rico, whichever party they choose.