For decades the Republican Party has promised Puerto Rico that when it votes for statehood the GOP would support admission as a State of the Union. Well, in 2012 the voters chose statehood and in 2016 the Republican Party has kept its promises by declaring full support for Puerto Rico’s admission as the 51st State in its platform.
Recognizing that Congress already has spoken by funding and authorizing a vote to confirm the 2012 result, the 2016 GOP Platform endorses that federally sponsored referendum as the next step forward to admission. Without any hand wringing or side-stepping the issue, the Republican Party acted decisively, without being diverted from keeping its promise on statehood by short term fiscal and political issues.
As others have observed, every problem, controversy and crisis used as an excuse or delaying tactics to stop the march to statehood is best addressed by ending territorial status in favor of statehood. Because the current status of the island as a U.S. territory is not constitutionally permanent, there is no permanent solution to periodic status-related crises that make the current failed client state syndrome cyclical in the future. That is why majority rule for statehood on terms Congress approves is both historically normative and imperative, or if that fails then nationhood.
In the recent debate over a fiscal recovery bill in Congress for Puerto Rico, it was observed that political status was the real issue – the proverbial elephant in the room. That is why it is of historic import that the GOP 2016 Platform does not shift focus to tertiary political and economic issues that are best addressed through statehood or nationhood.
It is not a partisan opinion to note that objectively the Democratic Party Platform plank on Puerto Rico is at odds with the majority in Puerto Rico favoring statehood. Instead of supporting equal rights of U.S. citizenship through statehood or in the alternative nationhood and equal citizenship for Puerto Rico, the Democratic platform refers vaguely to self-determination without defining the real choices, and ignores the reality that statehood or nationhood are the only models for Puerto Rico to end the current territorial status.
The Democratic platform on Puerto Rico proposes increased dependence on federal subsidies by the territorial government rather than private sector led economic recovery. That might help some Democratic candidates among Puerto Rican voters on the island and in the states, but because Puerto Rico does not have voting representation in Congress or the Electoral College, we will never know the democratic will of the majority in Puerto Rico who voted in 2012 to end the current status and seek statehood.
The Republican Party Platform statements on Puerto Rico:
“We support the right of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state if they freely so determine. We recognize that Congress has the final authority to define the constitutionally valid options for Puerto Rico to achieve a permanent non-territorial status with government by consent and full enfranchisement. As long as Puerto Rico is not a State, however, the will of its people regarding their political status should be ascertained by means of a general right of referendum or specific referenda sponsored by the U.S government.”
“We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state. We further recognize the historic significance of the 2012 local referendum in which a 54 percent majority voted to end Puerto Rico’s current status as a U.S. territory, and 61 percent chose statehood over options for sovereign nationhood. We support the federally sponsored political status referendum authorized and funded by an Act of Congress in 2014 to ascertain the aspirations of the people of Puerto Rico. Once the 2012 local vote for statehood is ratified, Congress should approve an enabling act with terms for Puerto Rico’s future admission as the 51st state of the Union.”