The Washington Post asked 2020 presidential candidates their positions on statehood for Puerto Rico.
Seven said they support statehood for Puerto Rico:
Another 10 fell back on “Let them decide.” This may sound positive, but it does not respect the fact that Puerto Rico has voted for statehood already. Twice.
There have been five plebiscites on Puerto Rico’s status. The percentage voting for statehood has increased each time. In 2012, 61% chose statehood. In 2017, 97% of voters chose statehood. In 2018, the government of Puerto Rico officially requested statehood from the government of the United States.
Under these circumstances, saying that you will support whatever Puerto Rico wants as soon as they make up their minds is ludicrous.
Isn’t it still uncertain?
No. Anti-statehood leaders have done their best to muddy the waters. They boycotted the 2017 vote — but nobody boycotts a vote they think they can win. Unable to win a status vote, they have focused on confusing the issue.
At the center of the argument over votes is the “commonwealth” party’s desire to include “enhanced commonwealth” on the ballot. They don’t accept the current “commonwealth” or rather territorial status, but they want to be able to create a new relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States.
The federal government has said repeatedly that “enhanced commonwealth” is unconstitutional. The current Congress cannot make a permanent commitment to a special relationship. A future Congress could change any arrangement the current Congress agreed to.
For example, Puerto Rico at one time had the same options for bankruptcy that states have. Toward the end of the 20th century, Congress removed that option for the Island. This is just one example. Under the U.S. Constitution, Congress always has the power to change the rules for territories.
Why does Klobuchar say she’ll support Puerto Rico’s decision?
It is possible that Klobuchar doesn’t know that Puerto Rico already voted for statehood. If that’s the case, she needs to be educated. Click the question below to tweet Klobuchar.@AmyKlobuchar , Puerto Rico has already voted for statehood. Do you support statehood for Puerto Rico? Click To Tweet
The other possibility is that Amy Klobuchar is a mugwump. It may seem safer to say, as so many candidates have, that Puerto Rico has the right to choose their political status. But it is not respectful to keep saying that when Puerto Rico has already chosen.