Bette Midler is best known for her strong singing voice, but her Twitter feed has a strong political voice. Midler tweets about everything from climate change to New York City potholes. She also tweeted about Puerto Rico, saying, “If I were Puerto Rican I would be all in right now for leaving the US and becoming a sovereign nation. The disdain with which #TheHorrorintheWhiteHouse treats the entire territory is unprecedented and unpresidential.”
The tweet followed a previous tweet correcting a tweet from President Trump which falsely said that Puerto Rico had received $91 billion in disaster funding.
Midler is not a Trump fan
Twitter is a popular platform for angry rants and bitter jabs. Midler often dashes off tweets expressing outrage over the actions, statements, and tweets of President Trump. She rarely tweets about Puerto Rico.
Responses to her tweet came from people with varying positions, including reactions to Trump’s name without substance regarding Puerto Rico.
Statehood supporters generally asked Ms. Midler to help people become more aware of Puerto Rico’s position. But Puerto Rico is not really one of Midler’s issues. She said, “Puerto Rico has been part of the U.S. since 1898 and citizens since 1917.” This shows that she is better informed about Puerto Rico than many Americans. However, she may not realize that Puerto Rico has twice voted for statehood, or that most Puerto Ricans care deeply about U.S. citizenship, which they might well lose if they chose independence.
But her tweets were more about President Trump than about Puerto Rico.
Does Midler support independence for Puerto Rico?
“If I were Puerto Rican right now I would be all in for leaving the U.S. and becoming a sovereign nation” is not a statement in support of independence for Puerto Rico. It is an expression of emotion.
There is a story claiming that Nancy Astor told Winston Churchill, “If you were my husband, I would poison you.”
Mr. Churchill, the story goes, said, “If you were my wife, I’d take it.”
This exchange was not understood as a threat to the prime minister. It was a clear statement of mutual dislike.
As more than one Twitter response pointed out to Ms. Midler, people living in Puerto Rico do not want independence. No more than 5% have ever voted for independence, and no Independence Party candidate has ever won the governor’s seat. Midler did not suggest that Congress should force Puerto Rico to accept independence. Rather, she said that she would understand why the people of Puerto Rico might feel angry with Mr. Trump, and by extension, with the U.S. or the U.S. government.
Ms. Midler’s highly influential Twitter feed may have raised awareness of Puerto Rico’s position. According to SocialMention, Puerto Rico is currently being mentioned in social media once every ten seconds, with five positive or neutral statements to every one negative mention. This is stronger than average results.