Air Force One has landed in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the first time it has done so in an official capacity since JFK’s island visit 50 years ago. While in Puerto Rico, President Obama is scheduled to deliver remarks on the island’s status (the hottest of local hot-button topics), tout a Stimulus-funded project (time permitting), and (of course!) host a pair of fundraising events.
The local press has hailed the visit as an opportunity for the locals to cast aside their ideological differences, embrace the spirit of the Post-Partisan Lightworker, hold hands, and chant “Sí, Se Puede”. I suspect (and Politico confirms) that this trip is less about Puerto Ricans who live on the island than about those who have moved stateside…that this is but a distant leg on Obama’s re-elect tour, the easternmost leg of the “Thank Me For Justice Sotomayor” road trip. Over 4 million Puerto Ricans live stateside, 847,000 in Florida alone. Of these, 300,000 live along the all-important I-4 corridor. It is no wonder, then, that some have framed this visit in terms of “building security”.
If I championed the very policies that have forced 250,000 (equivalent to two Mariel boatlifts) persons to leave home in the last decade alone, I’d be insecure, too.
50+ years of unfettered progressivism have placed Puerto Rico in a situation where there is an abundance of government (and corruption), and no real solutions to its deep structural problems. The inhabitants of this small(ish) island are governed by one governor, 53 representatives, 31 senators, 78 mayors (with their respective city councils), and a government that constitutes over a third of its total workforce. When we combine this workforce with recipients of transfer payments, over 60% of the island’s population depends on the government for income, whether partially or totally. The local government not only subsidizes power and water for local residents of public housing, but also subsidizes cell phone usage. Recently, the state university shut down due to violent student tuition protests. The resulting decay has spread throughout the fabric of society, leaving many no choice but to abandon their beloved island, never to return.
There are those who suggest that the island’s political status needs to change in advance of any structural changes. I reject that argument, and submit that these policies have been enacted by both Popular Democrats and New Progressives, who have identified as Democrats and Republicans. Even now, Governor Fortuño was once touted as a VP hopeful because of his early dismissal of over 20,000 government employees. Since then, he has embraced ObamaCare, yet is still facing a brutal re-elect. The current Commonwealth status can prosper if run conservatively. Conversely, Statehood can only aggravate the island’s problems, if they are left unaddressed.
To look at Puerto Rico’s embrace of unchecked progressivism and the resulting decay of her institutions is to gaze upon the Ghost of Obama Future. We now know how this is going to end. We can confirm that the light at the end of that tunnel is indeed an oncoming train.
Conservatives everywhere should mark the occasion of Obama’s visit to Puerto Rico by asking her children this very question: Why would you want to support the same economic policies that forced you to leave home?