Tuesday, June 18, 2019

First on the Agenda: Statehood for the Colonies

Sometimes, the moral thing to do conflicts with the expedient thing to do. That's a hard position to be in.

Sometimes, though, the moral thing to do is also the expedient thing to do. That's a really easy thing to do.

Statehood for American colonies -- that is, all the places under permanent American jurisdiction that lack full voting rights in Congress (most people think of DC and Puerto Rico, but I'm a hardliner: statehood for Guam!) -- is the latter case. It is clearly and incontestably a moral obligation -- a democracy cannot permanently deprive persons under its dominion of representation -- and it is also likely to result in a bunch more Democrats, particularly in a Senate that is right now geographically-skewed in favor of a population minority. Indeed, Mitch McConnell was "admirably" forthright in admitting that this was pretty much the only reason Republicans oppose statehood -- it'd result in new Democratic Senators.

Of course, that's actually an exaggeration -- Puerto Rico's current non-voting member of Congress is a Republican. So it's entirely plausible that the GOP could compete in Puerto Rico, if they cared to try.

But even if they couldn't -- and there's something embarrassing about the speed at which Republicans race to concede that they think there's no chance they could ever appeal to a non-White voter -- it wouldn't change anything. Democrats struggle to get elected in Wyoming, which is unfortunate, but I admit it never occurred to me that as a consequence we should try to deprive Wyoming of electoral representation. And I'm so old, I remember when the Senate was defended based on the need for "geographic diversity" and "protecting the minority" -- rationales which if anything underscore the necessity of giving Puerto Rico (and Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa....) representation in that august body.

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