The Corner

Puerto Rican Statehood

Castellanos glides over two key points. The first is that the referendum process has been structured in a way that stacks the deck. Even if a plurality of Puerto Ricans favors keeping their current status, the referendum process could end up leading to statehood. (Let’s say that 48 percent want the current status, 40 percent want statehood, and 14 percent want independence. If everyone votes that way, then current-status loses the first referendum and statehood probably wins the second one.) Second, it’s not clear that the U.S. has traditionally stood for “self-determination” understood in this peculiar way. Alaska and Hawaii, for example, had very large majorities in favor of statehood when they became states–not a bare majority, a plurality, or even a non-plurality that could be made to look like a majority after a rigged process.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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