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November 7, 2012 7:34 AM   Subscribe

The November 6th elections saw a lot of historic decisions made in the United States -- the first black president re-elected, marijuana legalized for the first time in two states, gay marriage affirmed by the voters in four, and even the first openly gay senator. But perhaps the most underreported result yesterday came from outside the country altogether: in the commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a solid majority voted to reject the island's current status and join America as the long-fabled 51st state. How the bid might fare in Congress is an open question, but both President Obama and Republican leaders have vowed support for the statehood movement if it proves successful at the ballot box (while D.C. officials ponder a two-fer gambit to grease the wheels). Though it would be the poorest state, joining the Union might bring economic benefits to both sides [PDF]. And politically, some argue the island might prove to be a reliably red state, despite the Hispanic population, although arch-conservative governor and Romney ally Luis Fortuño appears headed toward a narrow loss. But the most important question here, as always, is: how to redesign the flag? (Puerto Rican statehood discussed previously.)
posted by Rhaomi (108 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite

 
how to redesign the flag?

Let Nate Silver do it. He's earned this.
posted by drezdn at 7:44 AM on November 7, 2012 [79 favorites]


Hmm, the Slate flag article doesn't render flag image in Chrome for me. Anyone else.?
posted by benito.strauss at 7:44 AM on November 7, 2012


My sister has been in Puerto Rico for the past few days and said that the election day celebrations were crazy.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:48 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nor for me (FF).
posted by kenko at 7:48 AM on November 7, 2012


Puerto Rico was practically the 6th borough of New York but if they want to be their own state I guess that's cool. Maybe NYC can join them? Just to help out while they get settled.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:52 AM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was all, "Why would they have to change their flag?" and then I clicked on the link and was all, "Oh, our flag!"
posted by grog at 7:54 AM on November 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


I know there's a disconnect between the federal law and the state law regarding marijuana, but it sends a signal.

There was no reason to prohibit marijuana, they suggested, when far more destructive drugs like alcohol were legal.

this x1000. i love that this happened last night and I really hope it makes a difference with regards to how this drug is treated in this country. i know that our govt likes to use it as a tool to arrest minorities and spend money on things to fight a ridiculous war, but maybe common sense is starting to find a better way. the switch from spending money to making money by taxing it has so much more potential..
posted by ninjew at 7:54 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


51-star flag discussed on The Straight Dope
posted by TedW at 7:55 AM on November 7, 2012


[Folks maybe consider engaging with the topic of this well-made thread and not just tossing lazy election chat in here?]
posted by jessamyn at 7:55 AM on November 7, 2012 [17 favorites]


I am totally smiling about Puerto Rico. Welcome!

I hope all goes smoothly in congress, but I know that's unlikely. I never thought that the US flag would change during my lifetime.
posted by Alison at 7:55 AM on November 7, 2012


The images (and flag app) in the Slate link is rendering weird because it seems to be a capture of the original piece at Slate Labs, which is apparently no more.

Here's an Archive.org link that includes the missing flag generator app.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:56 AM on November 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


As long as they call ahead, so we have time to clear out that extra room.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:58 AM on November 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think that is really cool news about Puerto Rico. I hope it happens.
posted by royalsong at 7:59 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is pretty crazy. As late as 1979 Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional was blowing shit up cuz they thought we were dicks. Now we are totes BFFs 4eva!
posted by Ad hominem at 8:00 AM on November 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


That two-fer thing would be good. DC not having any voting representation in Congress is an ongoing travesty.
posted by blucevalo at 8:02 AM on November 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Do we really need insular areas & territories anymore? What's the border between empire building and just adding Guam & Samoa & the Mariana Islands & the Virgin Islands as states?
posted by mattbucher at 8:02 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think this is really interesting. Between all the marriage equality, marijuana legalization, and electing openly gay politicians, plus this possibility, the next four years are going to be pretty sweet.
posted by Kitteh at 8:03 AM on November 7, 2012


Puerto Rico was practically the 6th borough of New York but if they want to be their own state I guess that's cool.

Can we just trade Puerto Rico for Staten Island?
posted by griphus at 8:05 AM on November 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Redesign Wolf Blitzer's beard!
posted by growabrain at 8:06 AM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


"The next thing they'll want is a baked potato! With sour cream and chives and little tiny bacon bits and pieces of toast!"
posted by fings at 8:06 AM on November 7, 2012


how are we going to build a fence around an island?
posted by Bonzai at 8:08 AM on November 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


You might consider some simpler assortment of red, white, and blue perhaps.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:08 AM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


A pair with DC? Do the Republicans really want PR to become a state so badly that might be possible? It might lean red, but it's not quite South Carolina....
posted by tyllwin at 8:12 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the post, but I'd like to correct one thing: in Puerto Rico, a solid majority has not voted for Statehood. In fact, the Statehood option only has 45% of the vote. It is very understandable that you were confused; I also was until a moment ago when I asked my dad, who's more up-to-date on the issues on the island.

Here is a wiki article about the referendum, which also makes the mistake of omitting blank votes when calculating percentages.

First off, let's have a look at the data from the horse's mouth. For those of you who don't speak Spanish, here is a translation: The asterisk is there because the term does not exactly translate to commonwealth, but I don't want to get into that.

The very misleading thing about this page is that it doesn't have a graph for Everything Else, which in this case is very substantial. If you look near the bottom, you will see that there are as of this posting 468,478 votes for "EN BLANCO" (left blank).

Many people left the ballot blank as a form of protest, because the option that they really wanted ("keep things as they are right now") was not available. So they are in fact voting against statehood.

The ballots will be tallied in terms of "Statehood" vs "Non-Statehood". So Statehood needs to win 50% + 1 of the vote.

Based on the current data, this is the tally:
Vote	          	        Amount	Percent
===============================================
Estadidad	                802,179	45.06%
Estado libre asociado soberano  436,997	24.55%
Independencia	                72,551	04.08%
En blanco	                468,478	26.32%
===============================================
Total	          	      1,780,205	100%
If you break it down into Pro-Statehood vs Anti-Statehood, by summing everything that is not the Statehood option into a single bin:
Vote	          	Amount	Percent
===============================================
Pro-Statehood	        802,179	 45%
Anti-Statehood	        978,026  55%
===============================================
Total	              1,780,205  100%

posted by verdeluz at 8:12 AM on November 7, 2012 [84 favorites]


Reporting from Puerto Rico. I doubt Puerto Rico will be conservative in representation in Congress. Politics here are strange and complicated. For example, I voted for Fortuno yesterday, a conservative and Romney supporter. However, he is pro-statehood, which I have been. In part this is because of a strong connection between government and the people here - regardless of party. We have 80% turnout in our elections. (Eat that, America).

We had universal health coverage here well before the US.

Puerto Ricans, when they vote in the States, vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. Even though there is a strong conservative social issues streak in Puerto Rico (we still have Sunday laws here), in other ways, we are liberal (especially economically). Fortuno, a strong conservative, responded to the economic shortfall/crisis that began in 2008 by substantially raising taxes. Cutting services is very unpopular. (not to say there hasn't been some)

I don't think the US Republicans will allow Puerto Rico to become a state without a fight. A Washington Times editorial from about 8 years back summed up what I hear a lot. The crime rate is high (hey, we are essentially an urban state), we depend on the federal government for money (so do a lot of states - and this will decrease if the US stops treating us like an afterthought). In sum, a large part of the Republican reaction is essentially racist, the streak in the Republican party that is anti-Latino or just plain xenophobic.

The Democrats would probably embrace us for the opposite reason, welcoming in Latinos if just for self-interest.

Not much more to say. I look forward to what happens next.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:13 AM on November 7, 2012 [22 favorites]


I think the individual representation of the states is important in the flag, jeffburges.

It's been that way for a long time and it also reflects the name of our country. We're not "America" but we are United States of a land called America. State pride is just as important as country pride.
posted by royalsong at 8:13 AM on November 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Last time I was in PR, a nice gentleman in a bar was explaining to me how many Puerto Ricans saw their status. He said it was like being a mistress. You get some of the benefits but not all, but at the same time there is little to protect you if your lover loses interest.

Hopefully we can make an honest state out Puerto Rico and she can have the benefits and protections.
posted by teleri025 at 8:15 AM on November 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


verdeluz, does that mean PR will not be applying for statehood then?
posted by mindsound at 8:17 AM on November 7, 2012


Let Nate Silver do it. He's earned this.

He will just average all the other flags with adjustments for historical bias and add error bars.
posted by srboisvert at 8:17 AM on November 7, 2012 [26 favorites]


Can we just trade Puerto Rico for Staten Island?

It's true, the commute from San Juan is a bitch. I'd hate to kick SI while they are down, can we just nudge them over to fit PR somewhere in there?

BTW, PR will be the only state with legal cock fighting. Something tells me that is going to have to change.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:17 AM on November 7, 2012


How about a central blue band containing 3 rows of seventeen stars with the white and red stripes alternating above and below it? (17 * 3 = 51)
posted by Renoroc at 8:17 AM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


mindsound, that is my understanding, they will not be.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:18 AM on November 7, 2012


Adding (or removing) stars isn't an issue we used the Whipple Flag design
posted by jazon at 8:25 AM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's confusing -- if statehood (or any other option) needed 51% to go forward, then why have the first ballot (asking whether to preserve the status quo) at all? Either way, statehood did garner a clear plurality of the vote even accounting for blank votes (scroll down for the pie chart + discussion re:local politics, which suggests Padilla's en blanco strategy lacks standing).
posted by Rhaomi at 8:30 AM on November 7, 2012


It's confusing -- if statehood (or any other option) needed 51% to go forward, then why have the first ballot (asking whether to preserve the status quo) at all?

This is an excellent question. I'm also puzzled as to why people would be so disgusted with the lack of status quo options in a poll that begins "in the event that Puerto Rico votes to change the status quo, what would you prefer it be changed to?" but then nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the electorate.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:44 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mindsound: If in the end the statehood option does not achieve 50% + 1 of the TOTAL vote then no, PR will not apply for statehood.

Rhaomi: That is a great question. Someone with more knowledge on the PR political process would have to answer this in more detail. There is a lot of fighting going on between the parties, and they both tried to sabotage the other's initiative. Basically, this whole endeavor was doomed to failure before it began. All I can say in response is, "Puerto Rico lo hace mejor" -- something my friends always say when confronted with such absurdities :-).
posted by verdeluz at 8:53 AM on November 7, 2012


The Junior-but-One State!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:57 AM on November 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


No Valid Patterns for 69 stars!

Man, we are a country of prudes.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 8:59 AM on November 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Keep the flag s is and let South Carolina leave the nation as they wanted just before the Civil War and what they seem still to want. I for one could still email my 3 friends there if they choose to remain in that bog
posted by Postroad at 9:02 AM on November 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fun fact: Barack Obama is the only president in American history to govern over exactly as many states as were in the union on the day he was born. We're a little overdue, is all.
posted by Apropos of Something at 9:04 AM on November 7, 2012 [23 favorites]


I hope the make it. I'm excited by the idea of a state in which white-anglo is not the largest demographic.

It will be fascinating how the GOP tries to translate their "Joe Six-Pack" platform planks.
posted by oddman at 9:04 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are other overseas territories of the USA that have tried to move toward statehood in the past (I'm thinking mostly about Guam, Saipan, and the US Trust of the Northern Marianas, which tried to get noticed but were almost completely ignored). PR gaining full status would send hopeful signals to other American citizens who are denied the full benefits of their citizenship because of geography.
posted by 1adam12 at 9:12 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Many people left the ballot blank as a form of protest, because the option that they really wanted ("keep things as they are right now") was not available.
A mis amigos de Puerto Rico: bienvenidos a Estados Unidos. Cambia no es una opcion, es inevitable. Se la vida.
posted by Blue_Villain at 9:12 AM on November 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Many people left the ballot blank as a form of protest, because the option that they really wanted ("keep things as they are right now") was not available.

But wait, *that* option came first.

There were two referendum. The first was "Do you agree to maintain current territorial political status?." The answer to that was No -- 54-46%. So, "Keep things as they are right now" lost.

The second was "If we do not want to maintain the current territorial status, then what do we do?"

Those who left an ballot blank on this question did not vote for none of the above on this question. They *did not vote* on this question. It's why you constantly, in pretty much every state of the union, more votes for President than for Senate, because some people come in, check the president box, then submit the ballot and leave. They are recorded as submitting a ballot, and submitting a vote for President, but they are not recorded as submitting a vote for Senate. Instead, the Senate table of results will have on less valid vote, and one more blank ballot entry. And blank ballots *are not votes*, any more than invalid ones are.

The correct table is this:

Q: If the option to change status win, what status should we change to?

Statehood: 802,179 61.15%
Associated Free State: 436,997 33.31%
Independence: 72,661 5.53%
------------------------------------
Total valid votes: 1,331,727 100%
=================
Valid vote ballots: 1,331,727 71.8%
No vote ballots: 468,478 25.6%
Invalid vote ballots: 17,602 0.01%
Total Ballots: 1,827,021. 100%

Ballots != votes. An blank vote is not "no." A blank vote is no vote on the question. If 2 people vote for pie, 1 for cake, and 4 do not vote, then pie won 67%-37%. Those who didn't vote didn't vote. You record the blank ballot to make the ballot tally add up, because step one in a count is "count *every* ballot, because your end total must match the number of ballots you started with", but that end total includes votes, invalid votes, and blank ballots. Neither invalid votes or blank votes are votes.

So, did the statehood option reach 50%+1 of the votes made? Yes, it did, by a very clear margin. I do not know why so many chose to recuse themselves, but by submitting a blank ballot, they in fact did recuse themselves. If there was a "none of the above" option, and the voters who did not vote (because they submitted a blank ballot) chose it, then yes, less than 50%+1 of the voters would not have chosen statehood.

But they didn't vote. 1.311,727 did vote. 802,179 votes for statehood. That's 61.15%. Puerto Rico has spoken.

And, yes, if you walk into a polling station, are given a ballot, and submit it blank, you have not voted in the election. They will count one ballot for each election that was on the combined ballot, and they will record a blank ballot for each election on the ballot, but you will not be credited with a vote, because you did not give a vote. It's not a valid vote, but it is also not an invalid vote. It means exactly the same as if you had never submitted the ballot at all.

You can argue this ballot was poorly designed. I certainly do. I would have held just the "Yes/No" now, and the "what" later, or I would have had one question with "status quo" as the answer.

But that's not the ballot that was voted on. And the status quo lost the first ballot, plain and simple.
posted by eriko at 9:13 AM on November 7, 2012 [23 favorites]


The reason that this is important? As the questions were posed, it means that if you count blank ballots as valid votes, then you got two votes to kill the proposal, whereas anyone who supported change only gets one. Basically, you could vote "no, do not change" on both ballots, whereas those who want change could only vote "yes, change" once, and then had to vote "how to change", rather than being allowed to vote "yes, change" again.
posted by eriko at 9:16 AM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Election rules don't always make sense. If PR's rules say an option needs a majority of ballots to move forward, then a majority of ballots is what it needs.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:20 AM on November 7, 2012


Ballots != votes. An blank vote is not "no." A blank vote is no vote on the question. If 2 people vote for pie, 1 for cake, and 4 do not vote, then pie won 67%-37%. Those who didn't vote didn't vote. You record the blank ballot to make the ballot tally add up, because step one in a count is "count *every* ballot, because your end total must match the number of ballots you started with", but that end total includes votes, invalid votes, and blank ballots. Neither invalid votes or blank votes are votes.

So, did the statehood option reach 50%+1 of the votes made? Yes, it did, by a very clear margin. I do not know why so many chose to recuse themselves, but by submitting a blank ballot, they in fact did recuse themselves. If there was a "none of the above" option, and the voters who did not vote (because they submitted a blank ballot) chose it, then yes, less than 50%+1 of the voters would not have chosen statehood.
You are semantically correct, but it's worth taking that "clear margin" with a grain of salt given the nature of the poll. If I polled 100 people on pie versus cake, and 40% of those people were diabetics who would just as well prefer to not eat either thank you very much, then the fact that 40% of people voted for neither option is telling of public opinion. And since the whole purpose of the poll was to get a handle on public opinion, the abstaining vote is important.
posted by deathpanels at 9:24 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well played Mayans.
posted by I love you more when I eat paint chips at 9:47 AM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


It might be easier to keep the number of stars on the flag even. If their current disenfranchisement is not reason enough for constitutional change, perhaps flag aesthetics would motivate adding Washington DC as number 52.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 9:49 AM on November 7, 2012


As a longtime opponent to American imperialism, I say no.

I also say yes to restoring the Kingdom of Hawaii.

(On preview and a quick google search, it seems I'm not alone.)
posted by IndigoJones at 10:00 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


If this happens, it won't be just Puerto Rico. They'll also consider Guam, and Samoa, and the Virgin Islands; odds are that two or three states would get added at once.

But as to DC, that would require a constitutional amendment.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:00 AM on November 7, 2012


For years I've joked that I belong to the Reverse Statehood Party. If the United States wanted to become part of Puerto Rico, we'd let them.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:06 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't a lot of people leave the second one blank because they said "keep it the same" on the first one?
posted by smackfu at 10:13 AM on November 7, 2012


Eriko, you have some very good points. However, it is quite possible that there is a large disparity between what makes sense to us and what will actually happen.

Some could make the argument that a subset of the "no" vote on the first question wanted some other option that was not represented on the 2nd question and that could explain the disparity. I think what it comes down to is how the elected representatives in PR choose to interpret the results. I don't think this plebiscite is binding in any way.

The majority leader of the house (PNP party) is interpreting the result as "PR wants statehood".

The majority leader of the senate (PNP party) will ostensibly do the same, as he was in favor of statehood before the vote.

Note that the winner of the race for Governor is of the party that opposes statehood (PPD), while the house and senate are controlled by the party that is pro-statehood (PNP). To complicate matters further, the resident commisioner (the non-voting congressional observer) is from the PNP party.

By no means is this over and it remains to be seen where this will end up.
posted by verdeluz at 10:17 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can't we just demote Hawaii and Alaska instead? A country ought to be at least vaguely geographically contiguous.
posted by HFSH at 10:20 AM on November 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


For what it's worth they were on two different ballots. It was not worded "Do you want the status to change (yes/no) and if you do want it to change then which of the following (statehood, commonwealth adjustment, or independence)."

It was worded. Do you want the status to change? (second ballot) If the change in status succeeds, what do you want the new status to be?

That seems to me that the people who did not want statehood should have clearly voted for another option on the second ballot. But I can see how it could confuse.

I do think it is ridiculous to read the minds of voters and those who didn't vote on the second ballot would all have said "commonwealth."
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:24 AM on November 7, 2012


HFSH: Let's just go Canadian Bacon. Lots of states to add, and then Alaska can stay.
posted by deezil at 10:52 AM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm also puzzled as to why people would be so disgusted with the lack of status quo options in a poll that begins "in the event that Puerto Rico votes to change the status quo, what would you prefer it be changed to?"

I don't know the context, but game-theory-wise splitting out the questions this way looks like a tactic to minimize the status quo option by first pitting the other options against it and then deciding which of them should win.

For example, suppose there are options A - 45%, B - 25%, C - 20%, D - %10. If I want C to win, I can say:

1) Should we do option A or one of B, C or D?
["B, C or D" gets 55%]

2) If "B, C, or D" wins in question 1, should we do B or one of C and D?
["B" gets 25% to "C or D"'s 30%]

3) If "C and D" wins in question 2, should we do C or D?
[C gets 20% to D's 10%]

Of course this assumes that people who supported A in question 1 will abstain in question 2, or will support the remaining options in the same proportion as the rest of the population. So the tactic won't necessarily work in practice. But you can see why the supporters of option A would be annoyed.
posted by jhc at 10:53 AM on November 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


IndigoJones: "As a longtime opponent to American imperialism, I say no."

So... you want to oppose imperialism by ignoring what the people of Puerto Rico want, and telling them what's best for them?
posted by danny the boy at 11:04 AM on November 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


BTW, PR will be the only state with legal cock fighting. Something tells me that is going to have to change.

I'll give you my cock when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!

(EDIT: Sorry, wrong thread. Carry on.)
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:10 AM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I remember (probably around the time of the Straight Dope article) hearing someone on the radio saying a good reason for DC to not be a state was because no one could figure out how to arrange 51 stars on the flag. I thought that was hilarious.
I don't think more than 1 out of 10 Americans could tell you how the 50 stars are currently arranged on the flag without looking at it.
posted by MtDewd at 11:15 AM on November 7, 2012


Puerto Rico deserves better.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 11:20 AM on November 7, 2012


Along the lines of what MtDewd said: If I ever get an inkling that the statehood vote will pass, I am investing heavily in companies that manufacture flags :).
posted by verdeluz at 11:20 AM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can't we just demote Hawaii and Alaska instead? A country ought to be at least vaguely geographically contiguous.

Why not take away a few electorial college votes? Right now, an Alaskan's vote is worth 2.5 times that of a god-fearing Marylander. That's almost as much as a North Dakotan's for God's sake! You can't tell me that's right, for a state that can't bother to be topologically connected with our glorious Homeland.

Many people left the ballot blank as a form of protest, because the option that they really wanted ("keep things as they are right now") was not available.

What do Puerto Ricans lose by becoming a state? Or is it more to do with a sense of selfhood and identity?
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:26 AM on November 7, 2012


> Slate flag article doesn't render flag image

another source of the "design your own flag" widget
posted by morganw at 11:37 AM on November 7, 2012


What do Puerto Ricans lose by becoming a state?

For one thing, they'll start having to pay federal taxes.
posted by Copronymus at 11:38 AM on November 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


The obvious thing to do is to have a straight "Statehood: Yes/No" referendum at the next election.

It's not unknown to do things like this. When New Zealand was reforming its electoral system, it first voted on:
Do you want to keep the current system?
If we change, what system should we change to?
The voters chose change, and the Mixed Member Proportional system. So then there was another referendum:
Do you want to keep the current system, or move to MMP?
This passed, and ensured that the voters really wanted this specific change, without needing to read the minds of the voters in the first referendum.
posted by vasi at 11:41 AM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


For one thing, they'll start having to pay federal taxes.

Yeah, but they already pay the PR income tax, which is not stunningly different from federal income tax.
posted by zvs at 11:47 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Flag - add one up at the far right on the top stripe (about where a postage stamp would be on an envelope) and make it a little smaller and asterisk-shaped.
posted by tilde at 11:53 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


How is the flag change a practical* problem? Fifty-one is six rows, alternating seven and six stars. Next question.


*I grant that there will be impractical aspects to consider: Rush Limbaugh would get at least three months' worth of material of the communist atheist Muslim Kenyan literally getting rid of the flag.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:08 PM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Guys, get over the flag thing. The real issue is Senate seats. If people are carping now about how unfair the electoral college is, and our wacky bicameral Congress, imagine the outrage if a couple Senate seats were given to the new state of Puerto Rico, and then suddenly Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, etc all started to look interested.

I don't see an easy solution without Constitutional amendments, but maybe I am just lacking imagination.
posted by newdaddy at 12:18 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


If there was a "none of the above" option, and the voters who did not vote (because they submitted a blank ballot) chose it, then yes, less than 50%+1 of the voters would not have chosen statehood.

But they didn't vote.


Isn't a blank vote the definition of a "none of the above" option? You bother to go to the polls to be counted, look at the choices, disagree with all of them and choose a blank vote. Then people disregard your vote, so it's not effective, but telling people who are not represented by the available offers that they didn't vote, leaves a bitter taste to my mouth and I'm not even a blank voter.
posted by ersatz at 12:21 PM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oddman: "I hope the make it. I'm excited by the idea of a state in which white-anglo is not the largest demographic."

There is the matter of that other island state, where 38.6% of the population is Asian, and only 22.7% is non-Hispanic White--a number smaller than the mixed-race 'hapa' at 23.6%.

So Puerto Rico wouldn't be the first...
posted by qcubed at 12:21 PM on November 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


And just after Nate so successfully established his "538" brand...
posted by achrise at 12:24 PM on November 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Splitting the choice into two ballots instead of one ballot containing all options is a ploy to falsely claim a majority mandate when you don't actually have majority support.
posted by rocket88 at 12:28 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can someone explain what happens now, as far as marijuana legalization?
What is the time frame, and what actually needs to happen, before I am legally walking past the Seattle Police station with a lit joint dangling? (I'm sincerely asking)
posted by herbplarfegan at 12:32 PM on November 7, 2012


OK.. 2 seconds on Google and the Washington Post reports:

Starting Dec. 6, Washington residents over the age of 21 may legally posses one ounce of marijuana. There will be penalties for driving under the influence and state taxes on the drug will add up to 40 percent.

Merry Christmas, Herb
posted by herbplarfegan at 12:45 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Pacific Island territories would all need to be in the same state - they just don't have the population. Even Wyoming has a population of a half-million. To give a "state" of 65,000 two senators and two electoral votes isn't gonna fly. To be honest, they should have been rolled into Hawaii a long time back... and once Purto Rico becomes a state, it should likewise include the Virgin Islands.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:52 PM on November 7, 2012


Since 51 is a pentagonal number, this is easy. All those stars on the flag? Yeah, that's just one big star made up of small stars now. Bam, done.
posted by whorl at 1:16 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I want to do a poll, too.

1. Do you want to do drugs? Yes/No.

2. If "yes" wins, what sort of drug would you like to do every morning?

A) Meth
B) Cocaine
C) Heroin

The results of the second poll show that 100% of people want to do drugs every morning.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 1:28 PM on November 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


We should re-unite the Dakotas when we admit Puerto Rico, and keep the 50-star flag. It's the economical thing to do, and one less underpopulated state would make for a more democratic union.
posted by kgander at 1:32 PM on November 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Or we could fuse the Dakotas with Nebraska, create what I'm calling "Nebraskota," then split California into north and south. As long as we're eliminating underpopulated states, we might as well split up some of the overly-large ones.
posted by deathpanels at 1:49 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


The real issue is Senate seats.

Wait, what? Why is this an issue? Puerto Rico joins and gets two Senate seats. Or did you mean House? 'Cause yeah, some state(s) get(s) screwed there.
posted by maryr at 2:05 PM on November 7, 2012


I been thinking. We should make PR wear a prospect patch and run errands and stuff until we vote them in.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:12 PM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I hope the make it. I'm excited by the idea of a state in which white-anglo is not the largest demographic.

I hate to derail but I'm honestly curious why that is exciting.

Not only are there whole countries (I've heard) in which white-anglo isn't the largest demographic, there are entire continents and at least one whole planet like that.
posted by codswallop at 2:20 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey, that's new to America, though.

On the one hand, I think it'd be cool to add another state. On the other hand, it does make you wonder HOW the heck they do that. Plus the extra political drama.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:40 PM on November 7, 2012


Plus, as was pointed out upthread, there already is a state in which white-anglo is not the largest demographic.
posted by Bugbread at 2:41 PM on November 7, 2012


I'm just excited because there hasn't been a state added in my lifetime. Make this happen, America.
posted by drezdn at 2:49 PM on November 7, 2012


If you guys admit Puerto Rico you should definitely admit DC as well. 13 stripes and 52 stars? Well suited and hard to trump.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:09 PM on November 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


There are other overseas territories of the USA that have tried to move toward statehood in the past (I'm thinking mostly about Guam, Saipan, and the US Trust of the Northern Marianas, which tried to get noticed but were almost completely ignored)

Well, the same Congress that passed the law to assist the status referendum in PR also passed one for the Pacific island territories. It may not be long before there are referenda there as well.

It's not clear what will happen -- the last time Guam voted, in 1982, they voted for Commonwealth status overwhelmingly, but Congress left them as an unincorporated territory. Then there's the question of whether Guam and the Northern Marianas should be administered together or separately (it doesn't seem this vote took place).

Anyway, I'm more interested in the electoral college than the flag, and I'm surprised at the direction of this thread. There seem to be differing opinions on whether PR would be overwhelmingly blue or slightly (but not deeply) red, which is hard to gauge as stated above because of the politics on the island being orthogonal and disconnected from mainland politics in various ways. The Heritage Foundation is concerned, though, so maybe that's one indicator. Would there be a tooth-and-nail fight by conservatives (possibly on some constitutional/founders-intent pretext) to block statehood, adding a presumed two blue senators and eight blue electoral votes (which of course would be taken away from other states)? Would the size of the House be increased to accomodate new PR representatives without decreasing anyone else's? Could be interesting.

I like the general idea that the accession of PR -- should they want it (the closest Puerto Rican friend I ever had was a devout independence backer) -- would be one more step toward a more diverse US of the 21st Century, an evolution that (say) Australia and Canada have already in large measure made.

Still another aspect of this discussion is the voting-power-of-small-states question. PR would be right in the middle, actually -- the size of Oklahoma, Iowa or Connecticut -- but I think its accession will still raise hackles of outsized influence because $BROWN_PEOPLE, not to mention any D.C. accession sidebar. Given the potential of some remaining ill feelings by conservatives toward the electoral college after this election (lessened by the apparent margin now in the near-final popular vote, which didn't render a split decision 2000-style), this could also contribute to a conversation leading to electoral college reform.

So, are the Puerto Ricans Obama Latinos or Bush (especially perhaps Jeb Bush) Latinos? What would all this mean in terms of practical politics? I wish I knew more to answer these questions.
posted by dhartung at 3:19 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Puerto Rico"? Oh! You must mean Progress Island!

(MST3K short)
posted by gurple at 4:03 PM on November 7, 2012


Hello, I am Puerto Rican, and I have been eating and sleeping this thing for a few days now.

So, are the Puerto Ricans Obama Latinos or Bush (especially perhaps Jeb Bush) Latinos? What would all this mean in terms of practical politics? I wish I knew more to answer these questions.

Puerto Ricans skew Democrat. In fact, its pretty much assumed that if we are admitted to the union, our congressional seats would go to Dems.

What do Puerto Ricans lose by becoming a state? Or is it more to do with a sense of selfhood and identity?

The Commonwealth status we have know affords us certain autonomy that would obviously go away if we became a state. I would say that selfhood and identity, though, are what's in the forefront of people's minds. It sounds maybe cheesy or weird but a big argument is the loss of our Olympic team and our (really) Miss Universe representation. But the thing is, we're not a big place that gets noticed a lot. We're not our own country. We're in a limbo. And these entities, largely symbolic as they may be, mean something to people. They represent a shred of individuality. I have long thought our current status has done a lot of harm to our collective psyche, and this clinging to a Miss Universe contestant really speaks to that.

Puerto Rico deserves better.

What would you suggest, then? Can you speak to viable and real-world alternatives?

You can argue this ballot was poorly designed. I certainly do. I would have held just the "Yes/No" now, and the "what" later, or I would have had one question with "status quo" as the answer.

That was the original plan, but internal political squabbles, particularly about timing, brought about this ballot as a compromise.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 4:08 PM on November 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


I want to add - there is almost NO faith in PR that anything will come of this. No one believes the GOP will allow this. No one believes Americans want us to become a state. Our Resident Commissioner in DC submitted the results of the vote today, and no one believes Congress will do anything. I cannot stress enough how much NO ONE believes the USA wants us or will follow up on this.

I have a lot of thoughts about this which I won't regurgitate here because, you know, GYOB. However, if anyone really thinks this would be a good idea, I would say that Puerto Ricans really need to hear that Americans welcome them. Making positive comments in news stories, supporting the movement by letting your state representatives know that you approve of this - that kind of stuff is valuable.

I've never been actively pro-statehood. In fact, when I lived in PR I was for independence. But it's become clear to me that no one has a viable plan to make that happen, and it's even clearer to me that we can't continue as we are. This is the first time that Puerto Ricans have actually made a decision to request a change, to eliminate the Commonwelath, and it is a huge deal. I plan to do whatever I can to make sure that their voices are heard and not ignored, which is what everyone expects. (I say "their voices" bc I don't live there now so I didn't vote.)
posted by DrGirlfriend at 4:17 PM on November 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


I believe the residents of the District of Columbia are overwhelmingly in favor of statehood, more so than those of Puerto Rico. By redefining the federal district to exclude populated areas, this could be accomplished without a constitutional amendment. But the Republican congress insists on meddling in our local affairs (so much for federalism), so I doubt this will happen any time soon.
posted by exogenous at 4:27 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


DrGirlfriend:

From my heart, I'd like to send a warm sense of welcome to any Puerto Ricans than need it. With open arms I hope you all can reach a decision and follow it to the conclusion, whatever that may be, that you and yours desire. I hope you can understand that not all of us are ok with the way we've treated your home in the past... or in the near present.

We do bad things as a country. We hurt others and do things without taking full consideration of the impact of our actions. We are not perfect here in the U.S. I can only say that I hope, if it is the wish of enough puertorriqueños, that you and your fellows can join us as fully fledged citizens and help to make things better as we plod into the dim future.

A friend pointed out to me that if you look at the view from space that Puerto Rico shines much, much brigher than her neighbors. I'm not the most intelligent person in the room, nor does my knowledge really extend into what differentiates her from her neighbors that might cause that to be the case, but I see that bright glow as a sign that prosperity and opportunity might spread to the rest of that region with PR as a nucleus or catalyst. Hopefully it will spread to them with less caveats placed upon it than what your home has had to cope with.

If statehood or continued interim status isn't meant to be, perhaps because the wounds are too deep or the cost to your freedoms is too high, then I hope the future of Puerto Rico is bright indeed and will not again be marred by the same abuse that has been all too common under the current system of U.S. influence.
posted by RolandOfEld at 5:59 PM on November 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Isn't a blank vote the definition of a "none of the above" option? You bother to go to the polls to be counted, look at the choices, disagree with all of them and choose a blank vote. Then people disregard your vote, so it's not effective, but telling people who are not represented by the available offers that they didn't vote, leaves a bitter taste to my mouth and I'm not even a blank voter.

Well, it depends on the jurisdiction. Minnesota constitutional amendments require 50%+1 of the ballots, in the sense of pieces of paper, not in the sense of 'ballots voting on the amendment'.

But in this situation where it's not a binary choice, I don't know that you can distinguish between a no vote meaning 'none of the above' (or 'all unacceptable') and 'any of the above' ('all equally acceptable'). Or maybe you can. The latter is actually the interpretation that makes sense--you can't answer 'We have to do something, so which of A, B and C should we do?' with 'None of them.' if A, B and C is an exhaustive list, which it looks to have been (aside from option D, 'maintain the status quo').
posted by hoyland at 6:00 PM on November 7, 2012


And the point being that option D was addressed separately, in the previous question.
posted by hoyland at 6:00 PM on November 7, 2012


As someone who was born to parents stationed at Ramey AFB in the mid 60's, I say DO IT!!!!!!!

Yo quisiera decir, ¡Yo nací en el estado de Puerto Rico!
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:26 PM on November 7, 2012


Isn't a blank vote the definition of a "none of the above" option? You bother to go to the polls to be counted, look at the choices, disagree with all of them and choose a blank vote. Then people disregard your vote, so it's not effective, but telling people who are not represented by the available offers that they didn't vote, leaves a bitter taste to my mouth and I'm not even a blank voter.

This is a tough situation. I understand the sentiment. And the presentation of the ballot really invites this question, because if you voted "Yes I want to stay as we are" to question 1, why would you vote for anything in question 2?

However, there were also lots of blanks on question 1. Those blanks were encouraged by the party that supports the Commonwealth. I'm not entirely sure why, maybe to eliminate any semblance of a mandate. I've been trying to research this to get a clearer idea of the blanks to that question.


Had the people who left question 1 blank answered the question, we might be seeing different results. But they didn't, and they missed the opportunity to be heard because there is no protest in not answering the main, basic question.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 6:28 PM on November 7, 2012


I wrote to my senators to ask them to take a careful look at what the Peurto Rican people want to do, and then champion their wishes. A fart in a tornado, probably, but it didn't take much time and if enough folks do it, it might help.
posted by maxwelton at 7:17 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


DrGirlfriend, maybe you can correct me if I'm wrong as I don't really know to what extent reasoning like this would play into the referendum but the argument I've heard from several Puerto Ricans (both there and here in NYC) was that they feared under statehood PR would probably have to institute some sort of property taxes. Lots of folks who outright owned their land and whose families had lived there for generations, and who made little money, some practicing subsistence farming at home and bartering their harvests, worried that they'd suddenly in effect be "leasing" their land from the state.
posted by JaredSeth at 4:18 AM on November 8, 2012


JaredSeth, that's not an argument I had heard before. Not to say it's not out there, but I don't know that it's a very widespread one. Puerto Ricans already pay property tax, but they pay it to Hacienda, PR's version of the IRS.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 9:55 AM on November 8, 2012


Reddit designs a 51-star American flag for Puerto Rico
posted by homunculus at 12:55 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


'There is the matter of that other island state, where 38.6% of the population is Asian, and only 22.7% is non-Hispanic White--a number smaller than the mixed-race 'hapa' at 23.6%.

So Puerto Rico wouldn't be the first..."

Mea culpa, Hawai'i, mea culpa.

Question then: given wikipedia's claim that "according to the 2005–2009 Population and Housing Narrative Profile for Puerto Rico, among people at least five years old living in Puerto Rico in 2005–2009, 95 percent spoke a language other than English at home." is the same true of Hawai'i? In other words I've assumed that Hawai'i like every state is essentially Anglo-American, **culturally** speaking. They watch Grey's Anatomy, prefer American football to Association football, speak English at home, etc. It's own distinctive form of Anglo-American to be sure (again like many regions and states), but basically American (and thus Anglo).

Puerto Rico, is obviously not entirely culturally alien, they have Mcdonalds and all that, but it's culturally going to be very different even from states like Florida and California with significant Hispanic populations.
posted by oddman at 8:16 AM on November 9, 2012


To second what was stated above take a look here.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:45 AM on November 9, 2012


25.5% of people in Hawaii speak a language other than English at home. 43% of people in California do.

Of course, California is also 39% non-Hispanic white, so it's not like we need to go to 'exotic' Hawaii to find a state where most people are not non-Hispanic white people.
posted by hoyland at 6:08 PM on November 9, 2012


How is the flag change a practical* problem? Fifty-one is six rows, alternating seven and six stars. Next question.

Er, or for actual totals: alternating rows of nine and eight. My first draft would have caused people to wonder which dozen states had been cut loose.

That being said, some years ago I was at the Toronto Centre Island ferry docks, where there is a row of a dozen flagpoles. These were installed at some point in the 20th century, and each one had a flag of one of the provinces or territories. However, I was there post-1999 and noticed that the newest territory, Nunavut, had its flag present. However, there were still only a dozen flagpoles. A moment's look up and down the row revealed that while the Ontario flag was still present, the nearly identical Manitoba flag had been removed.

Alas, poor Manitoba: declared redundant by the Toronto Parks Department.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:15 PM on November 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just popped in here to say that I would love to have Puerto Rico become a state. I've always thought that, but have never mentioned it to anyone.
posted by Area Man at 2:34 PM on November 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


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