Tennessee’s Connection with Puerto Rico

An editorial in the Johnson City Press of Johnson City, Tennessee, starts off with these words:

After a 120-year probationary period as a territory, it’s time to extend a hand to our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico and welcome them as a state in this Union.

The editorial goes on to suggest that Tennessee should be able to relate to Puerto Rico’s situation.

Back when Tennessee was a territory, they saw that statehood was a better option. They got tired of waiting for Congress to offer them statehood, so they elected representatives and sent them to Washington. This method of getting statehood became known as “the Tennessee Plan.” A number of other territories have used it successfully over the years.

Puerto Rico gave it a shot, with a seven-member, bipartisan delegation. Puerto Rico’s struggle for statehood is still continuing.

And Tennessee is supportive. The editorial concludes, “Let’s recognize and understand Puerto Rico’s need for statehood and bring them home.”

Does a state’s support help Puerto Rico?

Congress — and Congress alone — has the power to admit Puerto Rico as the 51st state of the Union. Does it matter if a state supports Puerto Rico?

It does. States send representatives to Congress. Puerto Rico has one non-voting member of Congress. The congressional representatives from the states are the ones who will be able to vote for or against statehood for Puerto Rico.

Research shows that people who know more about Puerto Rico and the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States are more likely to support statehood. The more a state’s leaders understand Puerto Rico, the more likely that they will vote for statehood for Puerto Rico.

The more congressional reps understand that Puerto Rico’s status matters to their constituents, the more likely they are to vote for statehood for Puerto Rico.

The process of education is up to us. Tell your legislators that you care about Puerto Rico’s status. If you live in a state, help your representatives understand the need for statehood. Tennessee should support Puerto Rico, as the editorial says. So should the rest of the states. Let’s make that happen.

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