Somewhere Beyond the Barricade

14 Mar

A couple posts ago, I talked about the problem of D.C. Statehood. One of my readers suggested we just give independence to all those American territories and be done with it. As much as I like this solution, this is easier said than done.

Take the United States, for example. We can track the first Plan of Union back to 1754, the first plan for a united American colonies twenty years before the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord. Why did it take so long? Because the consequences of independence (in one form or another) cost more than the people involved wanted to pay. The Plan of Union was rejected by the colonial legislatures; it never went to the Crown. The idea of losing some of their rights to a national government was anathema. It was only when they saw that control already being taken away from them that the colonies were willing to “hang together or hang separately.”

If you ever have the chance to see the HBO miniseries John Adams (or read the book), it emphasizes this problem clearly. Even with clear proof that the the British were going to increase their control, and didn’t give a damn what the colonies thought about it, it was still barely a majority vote in the Continental Congress to sign the Declaration of Independence… one year after the war had started.

Let’s move a little closer to the present. The Republic of Texas is much glorified today, but the reality was a little more… well, gritty. American colonists in Mexican territory lead a revolt against their government and win in 1836. The newly freed Texans decide to join the United States and are told, “Thanks, but no thanks.” So for the next ten years, the thinly populated, geographically huge state barely held together. The Mexicans weren’t happy about letting them go and frequently ignored the border. The Comanches were raiding the hell of their outer settlements. The Texas Rangers had to buy their own guns and frequently weren’t paid. The Texan Republic had to sell off chunks of its claims to the US to pay the bills, until finally, it was admitted to the Union in 1846.

Let’s take the Philippines, which is the most recent example of an American territory becoming an independent country. It was ceded to America back in 1901 after the Spanish-American War and ended up finishing the fight the Spanish started against the Pinoys. Even then, the next thirty years were not the most stable for the American administration, and had to deal with lesser degrees of violence. In 1935, the Philippines became a commonwealth, which is a fancy term for “state in name only.” They were supposed to be on a path to independence in 10 years, but WWII intervened, and after being occupied by the Japanese, finally were granted independence in 1946.

Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands are also both American Commonwealths. PR became American in the same war that got us the Philippines (NMI after WWII), however PR is a LOT closer to the US. However, it’s the fact that it’s not on the mainland makes it difficult. Hawaii was annexed back in 1898 and it took WWII to make the US realize, “We really need these islands,” and it still took Alaska going first to get Hawaiian statehood in 1959.

So even with all those obstacles, PR doesn’t want independence, it wants statehood. The 2017 referendum was overwhelmingly in favor of statehood, although only 23% of voters showed up due to the PPD party boycotting it, since they like the status quo. The previous referendum five years earlier still wanted statehood in a clear majority over the current situation. Should they get it? In my opinion, yes. Will they get it? Eh… probably about the same time we solve abortion and immigration. 🙂

My point is that independence or statehood has always been a highly politically charged and difficult to resolve issue… and that’s just the American examples! 🙂 But what did I forget about? What would make things easier? Let me know in the comments below!

While you’re at it, why not check out my books and buy one! If $1.99 is too rich for your blood, download one of my free stories. You’ll be glad you did.

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