Memo From Middle America | Another Jeb Bush Bungle—On Wrong Side Of Puerto Rican Statehood Debate
May 14, 2015, 05:17 PM
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prnewz[1]As Jeb Bush readies the official launch of his Presidential campaign, he is preparing the ground with a seemingly never-ending onslaught of idiotic ideas, embarrassing pandering, and downright bungles, including accidentally confirming he's running [Why Jeb Bush's 'Running for President' Slip Matters, by Leigh Ann Caldwell, NBC, May 14, 2015]. The former Florida governor admitted he will not repeal Obama’s unconstitutional and unilateral Amnesty. He told an evangelical Hispanic gathering: “We have to fix a broken immigration system here in this country.” On the date formerly known as May 5th Jeb wished us all a happy Cinco de Mayo (in Spanish.) And he even managed to flip flop on whether he would have supported the invasion of Iraq [Jeb Bush belatedly solves his Iraq war problem — sort of, by Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times, May 14, 2015].

Yet one of his most important initiatives has been all but ignored by the Main Stream Media. Jeb recently made a trip to Puerto Rico and advocated that the Spanish-speaking Commonwealth should become a state:

Jeb Bush reiterated his support for Puerto Rico statehood on Tuesday, telling a crowd that he's long been a backer of the movement to make the U.S. territory the 51st state…

"Puerto Rican citizens, U.S. citizens, ought to have the right to determine whether they want to be a state. I think statehood is the best path, personally. I have believed that for a long, long while. I'm not new to this."

In Puerto Rico, Jeb Bush pushes for statehood, By Ashley Killough and Terence Burlij, CNN, April 29, 2015

In its coverage, Puerto Rico’s el Nuevo Día described Jeb’s visit as “con sabor a mítin” [with the flavor of a rally]. Bush even appeared in public with leaders of the pro-statehood Partido Nuevo Progresista. And he essentially made a campaign promise, arguing the next president should "use their [sic] influence" to make sure Congress takes an up or down vote on statehood.

Deploying a favorite tactic of those who want to shut down debate, Bush smugly noted: “That's just a question of principle and morality, I think. It's not a question of politics."

But there is no issue more nakedly political. Statehood would be a catastrophe for the Republican Party and for the United States. Yet Puerto Rican statehood remains a popular goal among an out-of-touch Republican elite which somehow thinks the issue will help attract Hispanics.

Of course, non-Puerto Rican Hispanics are all but indifferent to the issue. And even many of those of Puerto Rican descent, like radical open borders Congressman Luis Gutierrez, do not support Puerto Rican statehood [U.S. Rep Gutierrez: Don’t Support Statehood Since Puerto Rico is a Colony & “Different,” Puerto Rico Report, November 13, 2013].

The actual political result of Puerto Rican statehood would be to dramatically increase Democratic representation in Congress. Writing for the Social Contract, Dudley L. Poston, Jr. and Demetrea Nichole Farris, using 2010 data, calculated that Puerto Rico would have five congressional seats—causing Florida, Washington, Texas, California and Minnesota to lose one seat apiece. [Which States Lose House Seats If Puerto Rico Becomes a State?, Winter 2011/12] Those five new Congressional seats, and two new Senators, would go to the Democratic Party.

Jeb’s support for statehood is less a political calculation than an outgrowth of his strange psychological self-image as a great benefactor of Latin Americans—and, indeed, as one of them.

Yet do Puerto Ricans even agree? The three main options are statehood, independence, and the status quo as a territory. Personally, I support independence, not least because of the telling patriotic support Puerto Ricans possess for their own institutions, symbols, and distinctive society. And letters from various Puerto Ricans show many have a far different conception of what American citizenship means than Americans in the states do.

What Puerto Ricans want is actually quite unclear. The CNN article went on to tell us:

In November 2012, nearly 54% of voters in Puerto Rico voted in a nonbinding referendum to change the commonwealth's relationship with the United States. Asked in a second question what kind of political status Puerto Rico should have, 61% chose statehood, while 33% chose the semi-autonomous "sovereign free association" and 6% for outright independence.
Yet that convoluted and confusing referendum included two parts. The first simply asked “Do you agree that Puerto Rico should continue to have its present form of territorial status?” If the voter was satisfied with Puerto Rico’s current status, he would vote Yes. If the voter was not satisfied he would vote No.

That second portion offered three options: 1) statehood; 2) independence; 3) Estado Libre Asociado Soberano—a “Sovereign Free Associated State”.

Curiously, even the voters who voted YES on the first portion were able to vote on the second portion.

What is a “Sovereign Free Associated State” anyway? How would it differ from Puerto Rico’s current status as an Estado Libre Asociado, an “Associated Free State,” under which the island has autonomy and its legal system, Olympic team and candidates in international beauty contests?

Was this purposely vague?

On the second question, 61.13% of those actually marking the ballot voted for statehood—hence CNN’S “61% chose statehood” figure.

But wait a minute! It’s not really correct that 61% chose statehood. That’s because the anti-statehood Partido Popular Democrático de Puerto Rico (PPD) had instructed its followers to leave the second segment blank! And that’s just what 472,674 Puerto Rican voters did. That was their way of voting against statehood. (In addition, there were 16,764 invalid ballots).

If you tally up the ballots of those who left the second part blank and those who voted for the sovereign free associated state, and the pro-independence votes, it brings the total anti-statehood votes to 987,541 versus the 809,652 who voted for statehood.

The majority of the voters who went to the polls in 2012 did not actually vote for statehood—only 44.61% did. That’s comparable to the 46.3% who voted for statehood in 1993 and the 46.6% in 1998.

Furthermore, on that same Election Day, the anti-statehood candidate Garcia Padilla defeated the pro-statehood candidate Luis Fortuño in the 2012 Puerto Rican gubernatorial election.

And that brings us back to Jeb Bush’s recent visit. He was hobnobbing with Fortuño, the defeated gubernatorial candidate. Bush may be mixed up in the internal politics of Puerto Rico because of his own Hispanic orientation—even though Puerto Ricans themselves are divided on statehood, and a majority have never voted for it.

But more important: even if Puerto Ricans did ask to enter the Union, don’t the rest of us American citizens already living in the U.S. get any say in the matter?

Jeb Bush doesn’t even think to ask the question. And that tells us all we need to know what he thinks about the actual American people, and where his loyalties lie.

American citizen Allan Wall (email him) moved back to the U.S.A. in 2008 after many years residing in Mexico. Allan`s wife is Mexican, and their two sons are bilingual. In 2005, Allan served a tour of duty in Iraq with the Texas Army National Guard. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his Mexidata.info articles are archived here ; his News With Views columns are archived here; and his website is here.