So you heard about the historic state initiative that passed during the November 2012 election, right? No, not the state ballot initiatives legalizing gay marriage or marijuana possession in various parts of the U.S.—the state initiative, where a majority of Puerto Ricans voted to give up their status as a U.S. territory and become America’s fifty-first state instead.
Statehood initiatives were on the ballot in 1967, 1993, and 1998, but this is the first time a majority of voters in the territory have been in favor. However, the matter of statehood is not solely for the people of Puerto Rico to decide—no territory can become a state without congressional approval.
So far neither Congress nor the president has commented on the referendum, though both President Obama and various high-ranking Republicans have previously said they would support any statehood decisions by Puerto Rican voters.
Puerto Rican statehood would come with countless legal and financial ramifications: new seats in Congress and the Senate; federal expenditures on the new state vs. tax revenues collected from it; and myriad other issues so complex you need a law degree just to pronounce them, let alone understand them.
But on Twitter, it’s a lot simpler. Many Twitterers had no idea Puerto Rico statehood was even under consideration, and those who did include a large contingent of people who spent their patriotic childhoods singing about the fifty nifty United States with its fifty nifty star-spangled flag, and can’t bear the thought of changing that number now. (Although perhaps a future musical patriot can work something out of the fact that “fifty-one” rhymes with “nifty fun.”)
Photo via Joe Shlabotnik