Can anyone explain to me why America is still in the business of possessing territories that do not have full voting rights? These would include (of places with permanent populations) Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Northern Marinas Islands, Guam, and the District of Columbia. Politically speaking, of course, there are loads of reasons why these territories exist in a state of effective colonization -- they're too small, they're too likely to vote Democratic, they may desire independence (in Puerto Rico's case, there may be a virtual standoff between independence and statehood forces).
But it seems to me that there is no normative justification whatsoever for this state of affairs. Places should either be independent nations, or should have full voting rights in the country that maintains sovereignty over them -- it's that simple. Even size isn't really a barrier: D.C. is already bigger than Wyoming in terms of population. A unified "Pacifica" state of American Samoa, Northern Marinas Islands, and Guam would be the smallest U.S. state, but not by an unreasonable margin (it'd have roughly 322,000 people, against Wyoming's 563,000). Puerto Rico on its own would already have multiple Representatives in Congress (and would likely be combined with the U.S. Virgin Islands for statehood purposes).
And while I agree that these territories (absent D.C.) should be given an option of independence if they desire (akin to the Marshall Islands, for example), I also think their long-standing governance by the United States has given them a valid claim to statehood, if they want it, that we have an obligation to respect. In fact, I think democratic representation is so important that I don't think it should really be optional -- statehood or independence should be a mandatory choice.
It is frankly embarrassing that this country, which serves as a model for democracy the world over, has large swaths of people under its banner who don't have representation in Congress. It's wrong, and what's more, I can't think of any remotely plausible valid reason for allowing it other than bare inertia.