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The Expansionist
Saturday, September 19, 2009
 
Obama as Decolonizer. I sent the following message to the President via feedback form at the White House website.
When I was born, Hawaii was a territory, not a state. When you were born, it was a state. You later moved to the mainland, so your right to run for President was never in doubt. But what of U.S. citizens born in Puerto Rico who remain on that island? Are they eligible to run for President? If not, you need to correct that injustice. You need to bring Puerto Rico — and the U.S. Virgin Islands, right alongside, in which the same uncertainty holds — into the Union together as the 51st State, and end the outrage of there being two types of U.S. citizenship, first-class and second-class.
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If Puerto Ricans do not ratify statehood in the followup referendum, the statehood act should provide that refusal of statehood in referendum constitutes a vote for independence, and produces an automatic grant of independence as of the day the results of that plebiscite are certified.
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In that way, you can end the status debate that has paralyzed Puerto Rico for two generations, and move the question. Tell Puerto Ricans and Virgin Islanders that they must decide: statehood or independence, and they've got to choose now.
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If they choose statehood, we rid ourselves of the humiliating hypocrisy of speaking out of both sides of our national mouth, about freedom from one side and colonialism from the other. We will gain two Hispanic votes in the Senate and five Hispanic votes in the House, which will help diversify membership in Congress and strengthen the voice of the meek against the mighty. (It would also help pass universal healthcare.)
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If they refuse statehood, both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands should be forced into independence, so they no longer parasitize the U.S. Treasury, which now has to pay out some $11 billion a year for the privilege of maintaining colonies that embarrass us before the United Nations every year. The one country on Earth that should never have had colonies has half a dozen of them. The small Pacific territories can all easily be merged into the State of Hawaii, where their small populations can make themselves heard.
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Even if some of the $11 billion Puerto Rico takes would continue to be paid to individuals in the form of earned benefits such as Social Security, the Treasury would still see a sharp cut in outlays if Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands choose independence. That cut would help us reduce the deficit and tend to the needs of people who are proud to be U.S. citizens, by cutting loose people who are not proud. But it is probable that most people in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands will vote for Statehood — if someone forces them to stop procrastinating and make the choice they must someday make. This is someday.
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The first President born outside the 48 conterminous states should feel a special obligation to end the colonial condition of other insular territories. The first black President should as well feel a special obligation to end the second-class citizenship of the racially mixed populations of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
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Abraham Lincoln was known as the "Great Emancipator" for ending slavery. Might Barack Obama become known as the "Great Decolonizer", who ended the disgrace of the people who waged the first war against colonialism ending up with colonies?
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As the first President from Oceania, you can bring all of our Pacific colonies into full union with the Nation, as part of a "Big Hawaii", or let them "assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station" that we ourselves sought from our colonial overlord. I hate to think of the United States as a "colonial overlord", but that is, speaking bluntly, what we are as regards Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, the 'Commonwealth' of the Northern Marianas, and our other "insular territories". Tho "insular territory" may sound much nicer than "colony", only the correct term makes plain the ugliness of the current relationship between those territories and the United States: they are colonies, we are the colonial overlord. That must end. You should end it.
(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 4,344 — for Israel.)



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