Democratic Party’s Platform Links Puerto Rico Political Status to Island’s Challenges

The Democratic Party Convention has now concluded in Philadelphia, and the Democratic Party Platform has been posted. While the Republican Party platform is specific in its support of statehood, the Democratic Party focuses on the significance and challenges of Puerto Rico’s political status generally, with no explicit mention of statehood:

Fighting for the People of Puerto Rico
And we are committed to addressing the extraordinary challenges faced by our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico. Many stem from the fundamental question of Puerto Rico’s political status. Democrats believe that the people of Puerto Rico should determine their ultimate political status from permanent options that do not conflict with the Constitution, laws, and policies of the United States. Democrats are committed to promoting economic opportunity and good-paying jobs for the hardworking people of Puerto Rico. We also believe that Puerto Ricans must be treated equally by Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs that benefit families. Puerto Ricans should be able to vote for the people who make their laws, just as they should be treated equally. All American citizens, no matter where they reside, should have the right to vote for the President of the United States. Finally, we believe that federal officials must respect Puerto Rico’s local self-government as laws are implemented and Puerto Rico’s budget and debt are restructured so that it can get on a path towards stability and prosperity.

The statement addresses the inequality in federal funding faced by residents of Puerto Rico and calls for equal treatment in general for residents of all the U.S. territories.  It is notable in its linking of Puerto Rico’s political status with current challenges facing the island and its recognition that permanent status options must not “conflict with the Constitution, laws, and policies of the United States,” implicitly  rejecting historic “Commonwealth” proposals.

Similar themes, such as equal treatment and self determination, are found in the Democratic platform governing the other territories of the United States:

Honoring the People of the Territories
We also recognize and honor the contributions and the sacrifices made in service of our country by the Americans living in the territories of Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands,and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. We support self-government and self-determination for the people of the territories, and their right to decide their future status. All Americans should be able to vote for the people who make their laws, just as they should be treated equally. And all American citizens, no matter where they reside,should have the right to vote for the President of the United States. We will work as partners to the people of Guam on military matters, believe veterans from Guam and the Virgin Islands should have access to timely and quality Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) care, and take seriously the unique health care challenges that Pacific Island communities face. And we support reviewing the feasibility of extending the ACA to all the territories and increasing the Medicaid cap. For all those who live under our flag, we support strong economic development and will work towards fair and equitable treatment under federal programs.

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