Last night, the Daily Show with Jon Stewart took on the issue of statehood for Puerto Rico. The mock report featured “journalist” Al Madrigal attempting to convince demonstrators pushing for Puerto Rican statehood in a rally on Saturday, March 2nd that they would be better off without it.
Madrigal’s efforts – while humorous – were not successful. The people who attended the rally in front of the White House were committed to pushing for Puerto Rico’s entry as a new state of the United States.
To the Daily Show’s credit, they did cover the rally, exposing its viewers to the fact that there are many people – in Puerto Rico and the rest of the U.S. – who seek statehood for Puerto Rico. Many other news outlets ignored the news. And Madrigal effectively made the point that no matter how badly off the United States appears to be right now, people in Puerto Rico still want to live in a state.
But we are also left wondering what clips are on the cutting room floor. When asked about what Puerto Rico can offer to the rest of the U.S., did any of the demonstrators talk about the extraordinary rate of military participation by Puerto Ricans? Did someone note that Puerto Rico is already a part of the United States, and that the demonstrators were also there to celebrate the anniversary of their U.S. citizenship? It seems a bit late to ask Puerto Ricans what they bring to the table now.
The closing piece of the segment was also insightful. Madrigal tried to convince a demonstrator that having Senate representation wouldn’t matter because Senators could be filibustered. But having Senate representation also means that your Senator could conduct the filibuster. And that is power that Puerto Rico does not have.