Tuesday, March 10, 2015

John Oliver and the U.S. territories

Funny how we need a foreigner to remind us of these things, isn't it?

Of course, this will never change. Thanks to the Republican Party's notorious 'Southern strategy' of deliberately wooing white racists, racism is embedded in the GOP.

That doesn't just mean that Republicans would have a conniption fit about letting more brown people vote (though they would), but that racial minorities would have to be insane - or absolutely clueless - in order to vote Republican. Thus, even if Republicans weren't racist, they'd have everything to lose by doing what's right.

Now, Democrats might do the right thing, even if it's politically disastrous for them. After all, that's exactly what they did when they supported desegregating our military during the Truman years, and again when they supported civil rights in the 1960s.

The South had been a gimme for the Democrats for more than a century, but they gave that up to do what was best for America. Republicans, on the other hand, cynically took advantage of that political opportunity, began to deliberately woo white racists, and took the entire South for themselves.

So there's no way in hell that Republicans would do what was right, if it wasn't politically advantageous for them - especially now that they've filled the party with fearful racists and similar crazies.

But we do need reminding of these things, from time to time. John Oliver does a fine job here.


Chimeradave said...

Wow it's so amazing that they are still commited to America.

This was funny and informative.

Doesn't Puerto Rico keep voting not to become a state because there are benefits to staying a territory?

WCG said...

I don't know, John. It's complicated.

For example, Puerto Ricans don't pay federal income taxes, but they pay their own taxes and some federal taxes, too. They pay into Social Security and Medicare, and they get Social Security, but not Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and they don't get as much from Medicaid or Medicare as states do.

In the 2012 referendum, 46% voted to stay as a U.S. territory vs 54% who wanted a change.

To the second question about what type of political status they preferred (which some people who voted skipped), 61% wanted to become a U.S. state, and only 5.5% wanted independence.

One third voted for "a sovereign nation in free association with the United States," which is both confusing and not what some people wanted as an option, so 27% of voters left that part blank.

Long story short, Puerto Ricans seem to be as divided as the rest of us. But nearly half of them seem to want to maintain the status quo. Partly, that might be natural conservatism. Change is always a bit frightening. If you're doing OK, why rock the boat?

And when you vote for change, that second question is inevitable. What do you change into? Statehood clearly won that vote, but it was only a plurality of the people participating (since some left it blank). Still, it was a large plurality.

One thing to note: 78% of registered voters turned out for this non-binding referendum. That's impressive - at least, compared to the pathetic voter turnout in the rest of America.

America's history with Puerto Rico hasn't been great, but we are becoming less racist (though it might not seem like that, sometimes). I suspect that statehood would be welcomed, if it were actually an option.

"Separate, but equal" is inherently unfair. We've seen that when it comes to race and gender. It's pretty much the same way when it comes to U.S. territories which are not part of a state, don't you think?

There are probably advantages as well as disadvantages, but if you're treated differently than other Americans, it's inherently unfair. And that's the case for residents of Washington, DC, too.

Chimeradave said...

Yeah I don't think I understand that either.

Thing is right now they have their own government. If they were a state they'd be subject to our laws and have a very small voice in Congress.

WCG said...

Well, they're still subject to our laws, and they have no voice at all in Congress.

As a state, they wouldn't have such a small voice, either, John. They'd get the same two senators as every other state, and they'd have more representatives in the House than 20 or more current states (including Nebraska), That's not nothing.