~~June 29, 2015~~
Watch John Oliver Cast His Ballot for Voting Rights for U.S. Territories
ROCK THE VOTE … A TAD LATE BUT ALWAYS INFORMATIVE
To help commemorate the 50th anniversary of the march on Selma, Alabama, John Oliver focused his Last Week Tonight ire on a topic that does not tend to generate headlines: voting rights for the U.S. island territories — that is, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the Marianas Islands.
According to Oliver, there are 4.1 million people living in Puerto Rico and the island territories. Of that population, 98.4% are racial or ethnic minorities, none of whom have the right to vote in U.S. elections. According to Oliver, the more you look into the reasons that the U.S. territories don’t have voting rights, the harder it is to understand why these dated laws have not been changed.
Way back in 1901, it was said that the island territories were inhabited by “alien races” that couldn’t “understand Anglo-Saxon principles” and thus were denied the vote. That hasn’t changed, despite the fact that even at the time, American legal thinkers thought that the territories’ lack of voting power should only last for a limited time.
Fast forward 114 years and the U.S. citizens living on these territories still can’t vote, which Oliver compares to failing to update your computer operating system for over a millennium.
But Puerto Rico is lucky compared to some of the other U.S. territories.
American Samoans aren’t even automatically granted U.S. citizenship, which, according to Oliver, renders the “American” part as moot as the phrases “social media expert” or “People’s Choice Award nominee.” Instead, they’re considered U.S. nationals, but not citizens. Over on Guam, 27% of the island is occupied by U.S. Navy and Air Force bases, and a staggering high number of Guam citizens are veterans of the U.S. military, but they still have no voting rights. Despite that, Guam holds a straw poll every presidential election and has higher voter turn-out than any other U.S. state — you know, the ones whose votes actually count.
It’s a valuable civics lesson and an important reminder to ask — if you don’t mind cribbing a line from Oliver — how is this still a thing?
“As it appears in … full read/full credit”
What’s the historical justification for this?
The US Supreme Court in the early 20th century ruled that these territories are inhabited by “alien races” that may not be able to understand Anglo-Saxon principles that guide American law. Although this decision wasn’t supposed to be permanent, governments as recent as the Obama administration have cited it to continue denying people in US territories equal rights.
“There are a lot of complicated issues surrounding what the precise status of all the US territories should be and what the people who live there would prefer,” Oliver said.
“But surely, when it comes to denying Americans the right to vote, we have to find a better reason than citing a 100-year-old legal decision written by a racist that was always supposed to be temporary.”
TURN OUT FOR WHAT?
“As it appears …. full read/full credit”
~Last Week Tonight with John Oliver~
~Published on Mar 8, 2015~
A set of Supreme Court decisions made over 100 years ago has left U.S. territories without meaningful representation.
That’s weird, right?
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#WeAllAreOne #ItIsWhatItIs #DrRex #HortyRex #hrexachwordpress
I am very much aware of this situation in Puerto Rico, my country. However, I must confess that I wasn’t aware that this was the case with the other territories. I didn’t even know which other countries in this world were “territories”.
This is something that I wasn’t taught about in school.
Since I read the best selling book “War Against All Puerto Ricans” by Nelson A. Denis, I’ve been looking at the past. I have learned facts that are making me question the “nature of the beast”.
I’ve been wondering what the historical relationship between the United States, Guam, the Philippines and even Hawaii has been.
“America’s five unincorporated territories and commonwealths: Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and the US Virgin Islands.”
From the “War Against All Puerto Ricans” book:
Don Pedro Albizu Campos expressed his amazement at how “owning a man makes you a scoundrel, yet owning a nation makes you a colonial benefactor.”
We ALL are ONE!!