The State Senate chamber in the Oregon Capitol is adorned with a mural depicting the moment when Oregonians first learned that Congress had voted to make Oregon the 33rd state of the United States. It is a moment that is worth remembering. Statehood meant that Oregonians would finally have voting representation in Congress; until then, Oregon’s only voice in national affairs was a non-voting congressman. Statehood also meant that Oregonians would finally have a say in who served in the White House; until then, Oregon had no electoral votes. But most importantly, statehood meant that Oregonians would finally enjoy full citizenship and self-government. Until then, Congress governed Oregon not unlike a colony. In other words, statehood meant that Oregon would forever thereafter stand on equal footing with all other states in the union.
Oregonians embraced that responsibility and have ever since been pioneers in national affairs. This reflects not only Oregon’s ingenuity as a laboratory of democracy, but also the moral authority that comes from embracing America’s foundational principle: that governments derive their legitimacy from the consent of the governed.
The time has once again come for Oregonians to take a leadership stand in an important national decision: statehood for Puerto Rico.