Room for One More?

I was in Puerto Rico (search) at a business conference this past weekend and off-hand, one of the attendees mentioned how Puerto Rico is at a crossroads.

It's got to decide: Either become a state of this country, or a self-sustaining republic. Nothing in-between, which is kind of what this commonwealth (search) enjoys now — all the benefits of statehood, without the taxes.

But I started thinking that might be a lot easier said than done. For one thing, there's the issue of the star.

Let's say Puerto Rico becomes our 51st state. Where do we put that 51st star on our flag? Go ahead, figure that out.

Then there's the other issue of representation in Washington. With four million-plus residents, by my math, Puerto Rico would not only have the two obligatory senators — there goes you're nice, round 100 — but at least eight representatives in Congress (search). It would leapfrog right past states like Delaware, Rhode Island, North Dakota, South Dakota, and several others.

I imagine they might not be too pleased.

And could you imagine how residents of the District of Columbia would feel? They're already out in our national body, save a non-voting member. How would they feel about this island nation just coming into the Capitol, wham-bam-thank-you-ma’m?

Which raises the issue of those 10 extra seats: Do we physically have them in Congress, or would we squeeze everybody in for one of those State of the Union addresses? I've been there —ain't too much room to spare there. It’s sort of like my family reunions. Someone's going to have to sit at the kids' table. But who?!

I began thinking Puerto Rico might very well want to become a state. And I think they'd make a great state. The Puerto Ricans I talked to sure thought so. I'm just not sure everyone here would feel the same way.

So Puerto Rico, keep debating the battle for statehood there. It's nothing compared to the battle you'll likely face ... here.

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