Giving Puerto Rico statehood would reaffirm America’s commitment to representative democracy.
Opposition to statehood for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia has become orthodoxy for some Republican lawmakers. Sen. Mike Lee, for instance, warned voters ahead of last November’s election that statehood for Puerto Rico and D.C. would result in four additional Democratic seats in the United States Senate.
That misguided apprehension, however, squares with neither political reality nor the Constitution’s original meaning. And, given the current momentum for D.C. statehood on Capitol Hill, it may also undermine Lee’s wish to maintain the Senate’s current partisan balance.
First, the assumption that Puerto Rico and D.C. statehood would bring four new Democrats to the Senate is misinformed. Yes, D.C. voters would almost certainly elect Democratic senators; but the idea that Puerto Rico voters would likewise elect Democratic senators is a myth. Puerto Rico is overwhelmingly Latino, which doesn’t augur well for Democrats, whose appeal among Latino voters is tenuous and slipping.