20 of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates took the stage in two debates this week.
Puerto Rico was mentioned just once in the first Democratic Debate. Julian Castro reminded people that his first campaign stop was San Juan.
He got whoops and hollers from the audience.
Beto O’Rourke had answered a question on climate change, mentioning Iowa, Florida, and Texas. A follow up question was put to Castro: should the federal government be responsible for people who built their homes in unsafe places?
Castro, the former Housing and Urban Development Secretary, said, “I don’t think that that represents the vast majority of the issue. In fact, you know, my first visit after I announced my candidacy wasn’t to Iowa or New Hampshire. It was to San Juan, Puerto Rico–” and here he was interrupted by applause and cheering “–Because people should know that if I’m elected president, everybody will count.”
Puerto Rico was not mentioned in the second debate, and no candidates were asked their positions on Puerto Rico statehood. However, the territory was never mentioned in any of the debates in 2016. We hope that the fact that Puerto Rico came up in the first debate for the 2020 election is an indicator that the subject will be on the minds of the candidates this time around.
The subjects they discussed included subjects that are very important to Puerto Rico: climate change, health care, and the needs of working people.
Vox noticed that Mitch McConnell got a lot of attention in the first debate and objected to the fact. “In a more sensible system,” they wrote, “the presidential candidates would be quizzed on how they would lead their party to down-ballot victory if nominated… They’d be discussing statehood for Puerto Rico and DC — which is both the right thing to do on the merits and would strengthen Democrats’ Senate competitiveness in the future. It’d be all hands on deck to take back the Senate.”
Vox is making the common error of assuming that Puerto Rico would be a blue state. But they are right that statehood for Puerto Rico is the right thing to do.
Whoever your favorite candidates are, Democratic or Republican, ask them their positions on Puerto Rico’s status. It’s time for statehood.