In March, the House of Representatives voted to allow the commonwealth of Puerto Rico to hold a referendum on statehood. Although the Senate is expected to sit on the idea indefinitely, advocates of D.C. statehood are not pleased. It was only five years ago, after all, that a supposedly more sympathetic Democratic Congress squashed statehood for our capital city in an embarrassingly lopsided 277-153 vote.

To some, the tacit approval of Puerto Rican statehood is especially galling in light of D.C.’s more statelike behavior. One of the main differences: Our amigos in the Indies are curently exempt from federal taxes; statehood would mean more money in federal coffers. But a brief glance at some of the other disparities between the two might explain both why Puerto Rico would make a better state than D.C. and why the Latino-courting GOP might prefer it.

—Jake Tapper

Candidates Puerto Rico District of Columbia
Population 3,782,862 543,213
Climate Mild; mean temperature of 77 F Unbearable summer humidity; wearisome, drab winters
Official Motto “Joannes est Nomen ejus” (John is his name) “Justicia Omnibus” (Justice for all)
Unofficial Motto (drug-induced) “Gatillo al chota” (Shoot down the snitch)—ubiquitous graffiti slogan “The bitch set me up”—Mayor Marion Barry
Local Government Democratically elected representative house Democratically elected but federally baby-sat council
Language Spanish Bureaucratic gobbledygook
Political litmus test 82% pro-life
91% pro-school prayer
Mayor Barry endorsed a 1997 initiative to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes
Voter registration Not known (Puerto Ricans can’t vote in U.S. elections) 78% Democrat
7% Republican

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate