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How Can We Justify the Continuing Lack of Representation from US Territories?

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posted on Mar, 11 2015 @ 05:22 PM
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I had been doing a bit of light research into this issue after watching a segment on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. If you haven't watched the show, I highly recommend it and if you don't have HBO, you can still watch as many of the segments are available from the show's YouTube channel.

Here's the segment about US Territories from last week's episode:



For a country that began with colonies fighting for their independence over a lack of representation, you'd think we'd be more concerned about the lack of representation for those in our territories/commonwealths. It's shameful.

Quick Facts

Puerto Rico has a population of over 3.6 million people. Ceded to the US by Spain in 1898, following the Spanish–American War, it has been a US commonwealth since 1952. People born in Puerto Rico are natural-born US citizens. Puerto Rico has been represented in Congress by a Resident Commissioner since 1901. The Resident Commissioner is a non-voting delegate to the House and serves a four-year term.

The US Virgin Islands has a population of over 100,000 people. It has been a territory of the US since 1917. In 1927, residents were granted US citizenship. Since 1973 they have been represented in Congress by a non-voting delegate to the House who serves a two-year term.

Guam has a population of about 160,000 and has been an unincorporated US territory since 1950 and was previously under US control following the end of the Spanish-American (1899) but was briefly lost to the Japanese from 1941-1944. In 1950, Guamanians were made US citizens. Since 1973 they have been represented by a non-voting delegate to the House.

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands has a population of approximately 77,000 and has been a commonwealth since 1975 (fully implemented in 1986) and people born there are American citizens. From 1978 until 2008, they were represented in D.C. by a Resident Representative. Starting in 2009, they are represented by non-voting delegate to the House who serves a two-year term.

American Samoa has a population of about 55,000 and has been a territory of the US since 1899. They had no representation until 1981 and since that time, they've been represented by a non-voting delegate to the House. Unlike with the above, people born in American Samoa are US nationals, that is their nationality is American but the are not automatically US citizens.

Because they are not states/part of states, none of these US territories have any voting representation in Congress or electoral votes for President.

From the Video

A few interesting facts from the video to consider.

- 27% of Guam's landmass is occupied by military bases.
- 1 in 8 adult Guamanians are veterans.
- A higher percentage of Guamanians turn out for the non-binding straw poll (67%) for President than other Americans turn out to actually vote for President (61.8%).
- American Samoa is home to the US's top Army recruiting office (out of 885 total)




posted on Mar, 11 2015 @ 05:32 PM
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And people say the US does not have a empire



For a country founded due to lack of representation in UK parliment I find it ironic.


Why dont you make these places states? Or is your flag to full?



posted on Mar, 11 2015 @ 05:39 PM
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WOW...just...wow. learn something new everyday. I hope to god this isn't happening in canada.



posted on Mar, 11 2015 @ 05:47 PM
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Time to make them states.

Right now. What's the harm? What are we afraid of?



posted on Mar, 11 2015 @ 05:49 PM
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a reply to: theantediluvian

They can become states any time they want.

You are assuming they don't like the arrangement.

The territories all get every benefit of being a state, but none of the drawbacks.

They are independent of most of the federal gov taxes and regulations.

What a deal, all the up sides, no obamacare.

Once again, these people like the arrangement they have, why are you advocating for people that don't want your "help", based on a satire piece?



posted on Mar, 11 2015 @ 05:52 PM
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originally posted by: crazyewok
And people say the US does not have a empire



For a country founded due to lack of representation in UK parliment I find it ironic.


Why dont you make these places states? Or is your flag to full?


They don't want to be states.

They have had the offer.

They voted internally and declined.

They have every benefit of being a state, federal monies etc and protection of our military.

Are not beholden to most federal regulations or taxes.

Sounds like the best place to be in american territory to me.



posted on Mar, 11 2015 @ 06:02 PM
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The lack of representation due to lack of statehood is a double edged sword.

Namely, taxes. As I understand it, if you live in PR for a full year and work exclusively in PR, you don't have to pay federal taxes on your earnings.

The territories have to apply for statehood. Congress isn't going to do it for them. Even in the case of the vote in PR, there have been serious questions raised as to the validity of the count, with a significant argument put forth that the actual number of people voting for statehood was below 50%.



posted on Mar, 11 2015 @ 06:03 PM
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originally posted by: amazing
Time to make them states.

Right now. What's the harm? What are we afraid of?


Ahhh yes. We know what's best for them. They don't want it? Too bad.



posted on Mar, 11 2015 @ 06:08 PM
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a reply to: johnwick

Firstly, this is two separate issues. One is statehood and the other is representation. Secondly, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

A majority of Puerto Ricans voted for statehood. From Wikipedia:


In November 2012, a referendum resulted in 54 percent of respondents voting to reject the current status under the territorial clause of the U.S. Constitution,[12] while a second question resulted in 61 percent of voters identifying statehood as the preferred alternative to the current territorial status


As for Guam:


In 1976, Congress established a process for Guam to adopt a constitution locally, but the effort failed. In 1997, a commission was established to work toward holding a plebiscite to allow island voters the opportunity to express a preference for independence, free association or statehood.

To date, that plebiscite hasn't been held.


Here's what the non-voting delegate from American Samoa, Galeai Tuufuli, said about statehood 4 months ago:

"We don’t have the economic base to support statehood, we’re not economically feasible and politically astute enough to even bother to talk about statehood."

and here's what the non-voting delegate from the US Virgin Islands, Donna Christensen (in office '97- Jan '15), said in 2012 following the PR referendum results:

"I think it's important for the territory to follow this process and for us to begin a discussion to see about whether we want to pursue a status referendum of our own"



posted on Mar, 11 2015 @ 06:12 PM
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originally posted by: Shamrock6
The lack of representation due to lack of statehood is a double edged sword.

Namely, taxes. As I understand it, if you live in PR for a full year and work exclusively in PR, you don't have to pay federal taxes on your earnings.

The territories have to apply for statehood. Congress isn't going to do it for them. Even in the case of the vote in PR, there have been serious questions raised as to the validity of the count, with a significant argument put forth that the actual number of people voting for statehood was below 50%.


I think it was back in the mid 90s when the virgin islands voted no.



posted on Mar, 11 2015 @ 06:21 PM
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a reply to: theantediluvian

Wrong. The majority of Puerto Ricans voted to end their current status.

The ballot in regards to what should happen was left blank by over half a million voters. That was because the pro-statehood PR Supreme Court overturned it's own decision requiring ballots to have an "other" option for voters. A decision made due to a suit brought by the pro-statehood party. Voters were even encouraged to leave it blank as a sign of protest. 1.3 million votes were counted. Over half a million weren't.



posted on Mar, 11 2015 @ 06:21 PM
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a reply to: johnwick

How does that substantiate your original comment at all? Because you think there was a vote once in the US Virgin Islands "in the 90's?" Pics or it didn't happen, troll.



posted on Mar, 11 2015 @ 06:31 PM
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originally posted by: Shamrock6

originally posted by: amazing
Time to make them states.

Right now. What's the harm? What are we afraid of?


Ahhh yes. We know what's best for them. They don't want it? Too bad.


Exactly!!!

Most of the folks I have met from PR don't want anything to do with statehood, and I know a few folks from the virgin islands, they are happy as it stands.

I have had this discussion many times with folks from both these territories.

Never met any one from the others that I am aware of.

You act like they would benefit from being a state, even as many States wish they weren't.

What do they gain?

What do they lose?

Right now they are basically an independent nation state, with full US federal support.

They gain what? Representation? They aren't even beholden to most fed taxes or regs right now, why would they want to open that can of worms, just so they have a say so in things that don't even effect them right now?

Texas would love to get fed money for roads but not pay fed taxes or have their idiot regulations.

Specifically obamacare, right up front.

Once they become a state just so they have representation, bam. They lose a lot, money in federal taxes, and regulatory fees.

They then must comply with all federal regs etc....

Everything from business regs and licensing requirements, to now being told what they can and can't in a heavy handed federal gov way they aren't right now.

I would choose freedom over getting a vote on laws taxes and regs that don't even apply to them right now.



posted on Mar, 11 2015 @ 06:37 PM
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originally posted by: theantediluvian
a reply to: johnwick

How does that substantiate your original comment at all? Because you think there was a vote once in the US Virgin Islands "in the 90's?" Pics or it didn't happen, troll.


And you can address me respectfully or I will report you.

Just because I don't agree with you doesn't mean you get to be abusive.

Youvare advocating for people that I know for a fact don't want your "help".

Some of their political leaders might, because then they could get more power, and join the federal level corruption the states reps are involved in right now.

I know from first hand interactions with people from PR and the virgin islands that they don't want statehood.



posted on Mar, 11 2015 @ 06:42 PM
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a reply to: Shamrock6

Fair enough.

970,910 (54.00%) voted for a change in status.
828,077 (46.00%) voted for no change in status.

That's 1,798,987 total votes on change of status. Of those, 1,363,854 answered the second question:

834,191 (61.11%) statehood
454,768 (33.34%) free association
74,895 (5.55%) chose independence

That leaves 435,133 no answer (which is clearly not "over half a million" of "1.3 million" since we're fact checking). The difference between the first two options on the second question was 399,058. Assume that 100% of those who didn't choose from the available options would have definitely voted for a fourth option, had it been present, that would still make option #4 the 3rd most popular with option #1 winning by a landslide.



posted on Mar, 11 2015 @ 06:55 PM
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a reply to: theantediluvian

Or you can assume that you have no idea how many would've voted "other" had that option been present, because really, you don't. Neither do I. But that doesn't really leave one with the option of declaring victory, does it?

You're welcome to your assumptions though. We all know what those do



posted on Mar, 11 2015 @ 07:02 PM
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a reply to: johnwick

PLEASE save your sanctimonious admonishments for somebody else. I believe I responded appropriately given your continued insinuations which are in effect, nothing but ad hominem attacks.

I'll ask again, in the most respectful manner possible:

Please, cite something that will substantiate your claims aside from vague anecdotal evidence.

I've had this conversation with at least a dozen Puerto Ricans that I know personally and the majority were pro-statehood and the rest more or less ambivalent. I don't expect you to take my word for it.



posted on Mar, 11 2015 @ 07:06 PM
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As it stands, when you live in a US territory, you basically have no say as to how you are governed. That's the problem. We can do what we want to them. Thankfully, the US government has been more humane than that Israeli government to the Palestinians. but that's what we have there. They may be very happy, we basicaly leave them alone and protect them. It works out, but still they should have the right to vote to govern themselves. It's very colonialist. Not good. We're better than that.

Freedom. Nothing, is more important. Freedom includes self governance.



posted on Mar, 11 2015 @ 07:22 PM
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originally posted by: crazyewok
And people say the US does not have a empire



For a country founded due to lack of representation in UK parliment I find it ironic.


Why dont you make these places states? Or is your flag to full?


I did not read all the replies so excuse me if already stated.. The residents of these territories hold a referendum every so often about becoming a state. In other words they vote if they want to become a state. So far none have had enough people vote yes for it to happen.. It could be that statehood also means federal taxes which I doubt many would want to pay. Their present taxes remain in their territories for their own needs.. plus uncle sugar protects and no doubt gives money to the territories (Guam military bases) and provides employment.. Win win for the residents...If I am correct in some of the details... so give up your taxing independence for ?

Not that it will happen but there are states within the lower 48 that want to get the heck out of D.C. policies and directives by succession and become a territory....



posted on Mar, 11 2015 @ 07:22 PM
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a reply to: Shamrock6

The fact remains that there were still 834,191 votes for statehood. Regardless of how it's sliced and diced, 46% of all voters selected statehood and only 29% selected from either free association (à la Marshall Islands) or independence.


Or you can assume that you have no idea how many would've voted "other" had that option been present, because really, you don't. Neither do I. But that doesn't really leave one with the option of declaring victory, does it?

You're welcome to your assumptions though. We all know what those do


The fact of the matter is that unless 399,059 of those 435,133 votes were added to the free association option, the most popular selection would be statehood. How is this not solid evidence of popular support for statehood?

Ironically, this thread was about a lack of representation and not necessarily about statehood. Why derail it with a false dichotomy?
edit on 2015-3-11 by theantediluvian because: (no reason given)



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