Make Them Hear You! is a weekly feature on KGNU, produced by Chris Mohr, letting listeners know how they can have their voices heard on issues up before Congress. You can hear it Wednesday mornings at 8.20am during the Morning Magazine.
Every week, from here on out, I am going to encourage you to vote on November 6. Your vote matters! That’s why the Russians are trying to hack it, why the politicians want to gerrymander it away, why they try to suppress your vote. Vote while we still can. Colorado allows registration right up to election day with the DMV, with driver’s license or state ID. Ballots are getting out now, so Vote early if you can. Check that your name isn’t purged from voter rolls and that your information is accurate. Check that your polling place is open and in the same place. Offer (or request) a ride to the polls on your social media accounts. You never know who can’t afford the extra gas or who feels unsafe voting alone. And be informed! KGNU is a clearinghouse of information for Election 2018.
A recent New York Time opinion piece says it’s time to make Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., the 51st and 52nd states.
Thanks to a combination of historical accident and racism, the Senate gives considerably more representation to white citizens than to dark-skinned ones. States whose populations have grown the most, like California, Texas, Florida and New York, are racially diverse. By contrast, the smallest states, like Wyoming, Vermont, the Dakotas and Maine, tend to be overwhelmingly white. The Senate gives two Senators to each state, giving special treatment to whites.
About four million American citizens have almost no congressional voting power. Of these four million people , more than 90 percent are black or Hispanic: the residents of Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. Making Washington and Puerto Rico the 51st and 52nd states, with full representation in the Senate and the House. This idea is gaining traction. Those four million American citizens deserve to be treated as American citizens.
Some Republicans will claim that adding two states is just a ploy to help the Democratic Party. Puerto Rico’s current (nonvoting) member of the House of Representatives is a Republican, Jenniffer González-Colón. President Gerald Ford actually proposed making Puerto Rico a state back in the ‘70s.
To create two new states, Congress would need to pass a bill, and the president would need to sign it. The current Congress and president won’t do so, but they won’t be around forever.
Granting statehood to Washington and Puerto Rico would not erase the racial gaps in the Senate. But adding two new states would make a meaningful dent. If you have thoughts on statehood for Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., you can contact your Senators and congressperson.