Puerto Rico Statehood in the New Congress

The new reality in Washington today is a return to two party rule.  This could be good for Puerto Rico, because both national parties will want to get credit for statehood and equal rights for 3.7 million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico.  As that moment draws nearer, two party rule can help the White House and Congress to get their fair share of credit for making history by adding the 51st star to our nation’s flag.

Republican takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 ended the Obama-Reid-Pelosi one party monopoly over the two co-equal political branches of the federal government.  But control of the U.S. Senate and White House by the same party let the Obama-Reid avoid giving any political advantage to Republicans as the majority party in the House of Representatives, including undoing the actions taken from 2008 to 2010.

Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate in the 2014 midterm election means the national policy agenda once again will be set by a White House controlled by one party and a Congress controlled by another.  Instead of just the negative power of denial by exercising “checks” that one co-equal branch has on another, the end of divided a divided Congress enables “balances” between the two political branches.

A Republican Congress and a Democratic White House and Senate acted together early in 2014 to authorize a federally sponsored vote to confirm the 2012 pro-statehood vote.  Now re-alignment between the Congress and the White House will provide incentives to work together on previous bipartisan efforts.

This offers hope for Puerto Rico in its quest for political status resolution and for equal rights through statehood.  Historically, even when a U.S. territory clearly was ready for admission to the union, both political parties have had to see enough potential partisan political advantage to embrace the transition to statehood.

Having one strong party might make any initiative on Puerto Rico’s status appear to be identified with the party in power, creating a perception that progress for Puerto Rico will come at the expense of the minority party.  With increasing Hispanic power in American politics, each national party could benefit from getting credit for delivering on equal rights of citizenship for 3.7 million disenfranchised U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico.

A more even distribution of power, which is what we have now, might let each party take credit with Hispanic voters for bringing equal rights to Puerto rico.

It also will enable the national parties to compete on a more equal playing field for the hearts and minds of U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico as they decide between the Republican or Democratic parties.  Integrating Puerto Rico more fully into the U.S. is still being delayed by special interests in Puerto Rico and Washington who seek to obstruct self-determination, but the new leadership may change that.

 

This post was originally written in English and may be being auto-translated by Google.

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