The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Puerto Rico, the 51st State? Who’s Next?

For the first time in its long history as an American territory, Puerto Rico has voted to join the union. Naturally, it’s not a done deal. The measure was non-binding, and although both presidential candidates stated that they would be in favor of statehood for the island should residents support it, statehood would still have to make it through Congress. Moreover, incoming Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla’s Popular Democratic Party opposes statehood. The BBC has more:

Almost 80% of the island’s electorate took part in the referendum, the fourth in the past 45 years.

With almost all the votes counted, almost 54% voted to change the island’s relationship with the US.

And in reply to a second question on what future they favoured, nearly two-thirds wanted full statehood.

If Congress grants its approval, Puerto Ricans would have the right to vote in all US elections, but would also have to pay federal taxes, something at present they are excused from.

Via Meadia thinks their decision should be respected. But it is important to keep in mind a decision to join the union is irrevocable. We should make sure that this is fully understood before any final decision is made. If Puerto Rico is serious, we should welcome them and add another star to the flag.

The last states to join the union were Alaska and Hawaii back in the Eisenhower administration; the first time I pledged allegiance there were 48 stars in the flag. I wonder how many more there will be.

Imperialism is dead—as it should be—but it’s an interesting question whether we should be open to requests from other places (perhaps in the English-speaking Caribbean) who want to sign up. Takers, anyone?

Published on November 9, 2012 9:00 am