Proposals to allow Puerto Rico to pursue statehood may not be a high priority with most Americans, but it should be.
There is no more American an issue than that of allowing a group of American citizens -- yes, Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens -- the right of self-determination to pursue statehood or whatever they may wish.
Bills soon will be before Congress to do just that. The bills are "process" bills, not statehood bills. The bills would provide a process to ask Puerto Rican voters their preferences. They could choose to be a commonwealth, a process that would lead to statehood, or independence.
If statehood is selected, there would be lengthy period of negotiations, up to 10 years, when terms and conditions would be decided.
There are many reasons why it would be good for Puerto Rico to enter the union. As for economics, Puerto Rico's economy is about $42 billion, slightly ahead of New Mexico. The U.S. spends some $10 billion a year in economic subsidies there. That would be reduced some $3 billion. But the potential growth is there, too.
If admitted, there would be no reason for other states to lose representation. Seats in Congess could be expanded.
But the reasons transcend economies and politics.
Puerto Ricans have fought in every U.S. war this century. And have died in greater percentage according to population. The "blood tax" has been paid.
As many as 80 percent participate in elections there (compare this to American's lazy attitude about their ballot rights), but cannot vote for the commander and chief who may send their sons and daughters to war.
Americans should cheer at the prospect of a new state because it reminds everyone of the importance of the American ideals of freedom and self-determination.
Puerto Rico has earned the precious right.