This morning, I spotted a news blurb about Puerto Rican citizens being denied the right to vote in presidential elections.
This is the fourth time in the last decade or so Puerto Rican residents have sought that right, and the fourth time it has been rejected.
It’s a simple matter. Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States. It is not a state, so they don’t get the rights of states. The District of Columbia has the same issues.
With Puerto Rico, though, the case is a bit more muddled. There have been repeated referenda and other votes on whether or not they should seek statehood or independence, and they’ve repeatedly declined it. Their current status has a great deal of economic and tax benefits, and they like that.
But those benefits come at a price. And that price is not having the full rights of statehood.
With those votes, they have repeatedly declared their preference for the benefits of being a territory. The privileges of being a state are bundled with the responsibilities of being a state. And there’s no separating the two.
The process of becoming a state is relatively simple. It’s been done 37 times in US history, so there’s plenty of precedent to follow.
But kiss goodbye all those tax advantages.