Granting statehood to the District of Columbia and the unincorporated territory of Puerto Rico has been a topic that American politicians have been debating for decades. This is just another subject that divides the parties controlling Congress, which has the jurisdiction to admit new territories to the Union. This is not unusual; Republicans and Democrats disagree on almost every single important matter. Ultimately, that is what politics is; different groups of individuals discussing what is best for the nation, but there is something very abnormal about this specific matter. The debate is essentially not about “what is best for our people,” as it would be the case for some other discussions.
When debating statehood, politicians are discussing something they do not care about as it will not directly affect their constituents, but it would politically affect their parties, negatively or positively. In the instance of incorporating the two territories mentioned above, the phrase “what is best for the nation” is just a form of disguise that representatives and public officials utilize to hide the political interests of their respective parties. For example, Republicans are the ones who tend to object to admitting Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia to the nation for one reason. According to them, it would present a disadvantage to the GOP in future elections. Why? Because in the case of D.C., which is known as the most liberal part of the United States, granting the citizens the right to send two senators and one representative would almost crush their aspirations of controlling either house in the future, especially the Senate.
With Puerto Rico, the situation is even more perplexing. Before getting into the conservative's arguments against admitting Puerto Rico, I will provide a brief background on the territory. The Caribbean island was invaded in 1898 by the U.S. Army under the command of then-President William McKinley as part of the events that distinguished the Spanish-American War. Since the second colonization of Puerto Rico, Puerto Ricans have never been seen and treated as equal to mainland Americans. It was not until 1917 that the inhabitants of the archipelago of Puerto Rico received U.S citizenship and in 1952 that the island was declared as a commonwealth and given the provision to establish a local government capable of dealing with local matters. Since then, statehood movements have appeared in Puerto Rico, but have never achieved a majority, until the latest referendum in which 52% of voters voted "Yes" for statehood. This once again raised the question. Will Puerto Rico ever become a state? With Joe Biden winning the presidency this past November and the Democrats winning control of the House and the Senate, the issue has been raised again, but Republicans have expressed their opposition to a possible Puerto Rico statehood bill in Congress by stating that, like D.C., the island would be a solidly blue state, thus contributing to the “socialist agenda” of Democrats, a claim that has no veritable evidence as voters in the island of Puerto Rico are diverse and unprecedented. Even the Resident Commissioner of the island (only representative of PR in Congress) caucuses with the Republicans.
Granting statehood to D.C. and Puerto Rico would transform the political landscape in the United States, something that citizens of the two territories may participate in, but Congress will have the last word.