Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Geopolitical numbers test

True or false: Puerto Rico and Guam would be states now if the total number of existing states in the U.S. actually added up to 48.


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  1. Anonymous


  2. Anonymous

    Do I need to show my work?

  3. Yes please show your work

  4. That’s a trick question of some kind.

    That’s Morro Castle near San Juan, PR, by the way: nice view of it from its entryway at this link:

    • This is not only a trick question, it’s an obscure one. And that’s even worse. What the heck is this about, Jon? :o)

    • Anonymous

      I proposed to my wife there!

      •  Since you refer to her as your wife, obviously she accepted!

        I saw it when Dad was stationed at Roosevelt Roads in ’52-’54. I went to kindergarten there.

  5. Anonymous

    It’s a trick question that’s a Rule 5 violation.

  6. Anonymous

    DC says hello.

  7. It’s not a trick question. It’s just exploring my theory that a big hurdle for Puerto Rico becoming a state is that it would mean the total number of states was no longer an even 50. 

    • I’d like to see Young Master Weisman’s analysis before forming an opinion.

    • Anonymous

      I think the prospect of adding 2 Democratic Senators and Democratic Congressman are larger hurdles for Puerto Rico and all other territories. Including DC.

  8. Anonymous

    Aren’t Puerto Ricans terribly divided on statehood?

  9. Anonymous

    These kinds of questions seem to occur only on February 29th

  10. btw President Obama could be  in line to be the first president not to see the Union expand in his lifetime.  I am holding out for Cuba.

  11. From what I understand, both areas would be states if they didn’t enjoy all the benefits of statehood with none of the taxes already, so there’s no incentive for them to do so.

  12. Anonymous

    I believe it’s more national politics than local politics at play.  The two party system unofficially requires that states be admitted to the union in pairs, one Democratic and one Republican.  The only way Puerto Rico or Guam could gain admission is if some Republican state were also admitted to the union.  You know, something like Slightly West Virginia, Northern South Carolina, or Gentile ‘n’ Cuban Florida.

  13. KT

    Loved my 2 year assignment while stationed in Guam. Of the general local chamorrans I met they didn’t necessarily want statehood. They could take it either way. Of course my “voting” group consisted of the local softball players, who by the way would have probably taken 1st place at the recent softball tournament. There are a number of teams who play very well especially since they play year round.

  14. Anonymous

    Odd question, and I think definitely a violation of Rule 5.  But, since you asked. . . .

    False.  The real problems are culture/language, relative wealth, partisanship, distance/separation from the mainland (esp. for Guam), lack of in-terrirtory demand, and in the case of Guam, population (esp. for Guam, but also for PR, for different reasons).

    Both are predominately Spanish-speaking, and that becomes a hurdle to overcome.  Both are much poorer, relative to the 50 states in the Union, something that creates, espescially in the PR case, the contention over Commonwealth v. statehood movements, and each results in a number of unique situations for the territories.

    Partisanship is a big problem.  I don’t know if there is a firm history of admitting states 2-at a time for partisan reasons, but it is something to consider. (Alaska was relatively Democratic in 1958, sending 2 Democrats to the Senate, and a Democratic governor, while Hawaii was also more Democratic, with 1 Senator from each party and a Democratic Governor.  Over time, Alaska became more reliably Republican, and Hawaii more Democratic, but at the time of admission, I don’t think this was as clear.)  Puerto Rico does have a Republican Governor–in part, however, because Puerto Rico’s politics align along status (i.e. statehodd v. Commonwealth) issues–Gov. Fortuno and PR Delegate to Congress Pedro Pierluisi are members of the same PR party, but Pierluisi caucuses with Democrats in Congress.  It is assumed that Puerto Rico would be heavily Democratic.  Which means that while Democrats would be happy to add those votes, Republicans in Congress are more cautious.

    Both are far from the Continental US.  Alaska and Hawaii had those problems, but the answers are a bit different for each.  Hawaii, was a long-time US territory and was (and is) key to the US Navy.  Hawaiian independence seems an unthinkable option because of this (PR politics continues to have three options–independence, commonwealth, statehood–and the idea of being a permanent territory without independence or statehood options seems un-American).  Alaska is connected, through Canada, which is as close as you can get and still be a foreign country.  And the population there had become overwhelmingly transplants from the lower-48, and independence was also never really an option.

    Both Hawaii and Alaska pushed for statehood.  Both PR and Guam have mixed electorates on this.  If there is a strong statehood movement, there becomes a different calculation.

    Finally, Guam is less than 180,000 people.  That would make it about a third of the population of the smallest statethe population of the smallest state (and DC).  That is a conundrum.  PR has 3.7 Million.  That’s plenty big for a state.  Of course, that becomes something of a political problem if the view is that PR will be a solid Democratic state.  That’s probably 6-7 more House seats (remember, the margin right now is only 25, so it’s tight), and 8-9 Electoral Votes (enough to have made Al Gore President in 2000).  So it’s larger population, while making it more suitable for statehood in terms of parity with other states, presents a harder political problem to answer.

    Finally, I don’t think that 50 is a magic number.  We had 48 states for 47 years, and I think a lot of people thought we were done with Manifest Destiny for a long time.  And having an odd number of states is not uncommon in history.  Plus, someone has designed both a 51-star flag (in case of either PR or DC statehood) and a 52-star flag (I believe for a sci-fi film for some future US).

  15. Benjamin Pratt

    In a related question, True or false: Puerto Rico and Guam would be states now if the total number of existing states in the U.S. weren’t evenly divisible by the number of fingers on our hands.

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