Nothing heavy today. Everything that’s any excitement is already OBE. However, there is Rick Santorum, as quoted by the Atlantic Wire. He was in Puerto Rico this week, ostensibly to pick up some Republican delegates. Puerto Rico has been a United States territory ever since we snatched it away from Spain over 110 years ago, and the people living there are U.S. citizens. However, they cannot vote for the president, because Puerto Rico does not have any delegates to the electoral congress. As explained to me in high school the people do not elect the president directly, but they elect delegates to go to Washington to vote for them. Each state gets to send one delegate for each congressman from the state and one for each senator (every state has two). But U.S. territories do not have any senators and no voting congressmen, so there is nobody to vote on behalf of the people of Puerto Rico, or the Virgin Islands.
However, parties are not bound by this rule, and U.S. territories can send delegates to the nominating convention. And candidates need these votes. With this in mind Santorum told a local newspaper:
“Like any other state, there has to be compliance with this and any other federal law … And that is that English has to be the principal language. There are other states with more than one language such as Hawaii but to be a state of the United States, English has to be the principal language.”
I am sure the people of Puerto Rico were gladdened to hear this, and surprised perhaps. I am sure that any professor of political science at a major university would have been surprised, as well, and so would many high school graduates.
As Reuters helpfully points out, there actually isn’t a federal law mandating English as the national language, though some states have chosen to pass one themselves.
Anybody knowing the history of this island will quickly come to realize that one way to tic off its citizens is to sideline their culture, so it’s hard to imagine that Santorum is totally ignorant of the facts in this case. OK, maybe he is, but in any event he must know by now that he is blowing off the territory’s 40 delegates for, what? The guess is the for what is the affection of his conservative base back on the North American Continent. A bunch of these unbudgeables feel that the English language is already threatened in Virginia, so why give away any ground on one of our Caribbean islands.
Anyhow, so much for Rick Santorum. It’s apparent to anybody who will notice that he has grand delusions of adequacy, and the very most he will ever hope to achieve with his candidacy is to hand the election to Barack Obama
That leaves us with the topic of Puerto Rico and statehood.
I have been to Puerto Rico and to several places in the Caribbean. Another place in that region is the American Virgin Islands, and that is a place about as American as you can get. It’s English wall-to-wall, since it’s been in our possession for about 100 years. We acquired it from Denmark, which is why they drive on the left there. I forgot to mention, at the time we acquired the islands Denmark drove on the left, but back in the 1960s Denmark switched to the right side like the rest of mainland Europe, but the Islands stayed put.
Sint Maarten is Dutch, and Saint Martin is French, and they share an island about the size of Rockwall County. English is spoken everywhere, and the American dollar is the currency of fact in Sint Maarten. The French in Saint Martin speak very good English, and they will take American dollars, and euros.
St. Kitts, St. Barts, Nevis, Saba, Anguilla, even Aruba are fluent in English, and they flow with the dollar. Even the Dominican Republic is very dollar and English friendly.
When you stop by Puerto Rico it’s obvious you are in a different country. Spanish is the language there, although the menus at Hooters are in English. My initial impression was this was a country that wanted to be independent.
I recall that back in my youth independence was a very big thing in Puerto Rico. In 1950 Harry Truman was president of the United States, and two pro-independence activists tried to kill him in Washington, D.C. In the shootout that resulted a policeman and one of the gunmen were killed. In 1954, four independence gunmen opened up in the Congress House of Representative chamber with semi-automatic pistols. Five congressmen were cut down, but nobody died.
Anyhow, things have cooled down a bit since then, but the dust-up over Vieques Island (part of Puerto Rico) a few years ago got things stirred up a bit. The Navy had been using part of the island for a target range, but that activity has since been moved to a less sensitive area.
Anyhow, independence sentiment has slacked off, and the principal thought is on statehood. State number 51 (what would our flag look like) would have two senators and voting rights in the House of Representatives. Previously Puerto Rico received special tax treatment that made it profitable to invest in the island, but that has gone away, and companies there have to compete with low wage regions of the world. As a state, Puerto Rico would be much like Hawaii but with a better road system. Just about all worldly goods would experience a boat trip before it reached consumers. As an independent country the island would be left to shift fairly much on its own. Forget about Cuba and especially Haiti. Life on Puerto Rico as an independent country would be more like the Dominican Republic. Travel to the United States would require a visa, and I would no longer be able place calls back home on my cell phone.
And they might decide to speak English along with the rest of the region.