By jjones | November 10, 2015
It seems our blog last week outlining the statements of the 2016 Presidential candidates as it relates to autonomy and equal voting rights for the citizens of the District of Columbia needs updating when it comes to Dr. Ben Carson.
Over the weekend, Carson proclaimed support for making Puerto Rico our 51st state. His argument for Puerto Rican statehood are sound. He noted that Puerto Ricans have fought and died in American wars, and that the island has a long relationship with the United States.
By that measuring stick, there would be absolutely no reason why Carson should not support statehood as a means to guarantee the rights of citizens that live in the current District of Columbia. Carson may not be aware of the DC resident-backed New Columbia Admission Act. The bill has a slew of cosponsors in both the House and the Senate, and proposes a constitutional solution to equal rights - that Congress shrink the size of the current federal district and form a new state with the rest of the land that makes up DC's 120 culturally-rich neighborhoods.
At a campaign stop in San Juan, Carson told Puerto Ricans they should be a state because "you know you have already paid your dues," when it came to serving the United States in times of war. He also suggested that Puerto Rico's long history as part of the United States is a factor that compels him to support making the island the 51st state.
Sadly, the District of Columbia was paying our dues in battle more than a century before Puerto Rico became a U.S. possession. The unfortunate truth is District residents have fought and died in every war since the War for Independence. During the Vietnam War, D.C. had more casualties than ten states, and more killed per capita than 47 states. Those that returned from every war, lived -- and continue to live -- without representation in our national legislature.
If statehood is derived as Carson believes in the case of Puerto Rico, from a commitment to military service and from the length of time a group of Americans have been without full democratic rights, than he needs to take another look at the citizens who live in the District of ColumbiaIf he does, logical consistency dictates that Carson switch his current position of the District voting with Maryland, and instead embrace the New Columbia Admission Act to guarantee equal rights for American citizens.