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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

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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