FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why Puerto Rico Won’t Matter

by DAVE LINDORFF

There are a number of reasons why the Puerto Rican Democratic primary election set for this coming Sunday won’t matter, in terms of Hillary Clinton’s failed bid for the party’s nomination.

The main one is that she’s not going to get the big vote that she has been predicting.

Clinton, trailing Obama by about 400,000 votes nationwide with only three primaries to go, is fantasizing that she will win the lion’s share of one million Puerto Rican votes, which would put her in the lead for the nomination in terms of the popular vote, though not in the delegate count.

The problem with this fantasy is that Puerto Rico, a colonial possession of the US since the 1898 Spanish-American War, while famous for its passionate electorate when it comes to island elections, is not going to have that kind of turnout for a Democratic presidential primary. Indeed, local politicos in Puerto Rico are saying they will be surprised if even 600,000 people turn out to vote.

Clinton may well win the majority of those votes that are cast, but her margin is shrinking as Obama campaigns and runs ads on the island. She’s already down to a 13% lead, with 11% still undecided, and that lead is liable to shrink further, not grow. Even if Clinton kept that lead in the voting, however, if the turnout were just 600,000, she’d only pick up a net 88,000 votes. And Obama is likely to win Montana and South Dakota two days later, by large margins, erasing much of that gain again.

The other thing is, why would Democratic leaders and the all-important remaining undecided so-called superdelegates care what Puerto Rican voters do? Thanks to the continuing colonial status of the island, although its residents are all American citizens, free to travel to and from the US and to carry US passports, they are not allowed to vote in national elections, have no representation in Washington, and don’t even pay federal taxes (only Social Security and Medicare taxes). Puerto Rico has no Electoral College votes.

That in a nutshell is why Puerto Rican voters are so uninterested in this primary—so uninterested that the Democratic Party of Puerto Rico earlier this week requested that the island’s election authorities close 1000 polling stations. It wasn’t that they thought nobody would want to vote in them—they couldn’t find volunteers to staff them!

The other thing is it would not surprise me if the vote this Sunday comes out a lot closer than the polls have been predicting.  For the most part, the early advantage held by Clinton has been a matter of name recognition. Clinton’s husband was president for eight years, and moreover, with half of the eight million Puerto Ricans living in the mainland US, most of them in New York, Clinton is familiar as “their” Senator. By rights, she ought to be considered Puerto Rico’s home state senator, as sure to win this primary as she was of winning New York, or as Obama was of winning Illinois.

But in fact, there are reasons for Puerto Ricans, particularly those on the island, to view Clinton negatively. Her husband, after all, helped get rid of corporate tax breaks for American companies doing business on the island—tax breaks that kept a lot of US manufacturing jobs on the island. Doubling the felony, the Clintons, both Bill and Hillary, pushed through the NAFTA treaty that made it easy for those same companies, when their tax breaks were lost, to pack up and move to Mexico, since Puerto Rico also lost its advantage of being inside the US customs zone. Now US companies can make things in Mexico, where labor costs are a fraction of what they are in Puerto Rico, and ship them tariff-free to US consumers.

Puerto Ricans also do not have the same latent hostility towards blacks that some Mexican-Americans may harbor, and which the Clinton campaign so shamelessly tried to stir up in her Texas and California campaigns.

Unlike Mexican-Americans, who are ethnically a mix of white and Indigenous American, Puerto Ricans are much more a mix of white and African—a legacy of the slaves that Spain brought over to the island to replace the native Indians who were slaughtered, worked to death or who died of disease and starvation. Many Puerto Ricans are indistinguishable from African-Americans in appearance, and when they come to America to visit or live are likely to experience the same racism from whites that African Americans experience. They are not going to be easy marks for a campaign that tries to stir up racial fears or animosity.

Obama’s skin color will not be a liability in Puerto Rico. It will more likely be an asset.

Although predicting this kind of thing is always risky, I’m going to bet that Clinton will win a narrow victory in Sunday’s Puerto Rican primary—somewhere between 5-9 percent, with turnout of perhaps 550,000.

If I’m right, she will pick up a net 55,000 votes and 5-6 delegates. There are also 11 Puerto Rican superdelegates, but they will also probably split fairly evenly, at best, for her.

So no big deal—especially since Puerto Rican voters, in the end, simply don’t count.

Until the island is either made a 51st State—an unlikely occurrence since it would be a reliably Democratic state virtually ensuring Democrats of Senate and House majorities for years to come, and thus would never be admitted by Republican members of Congress, and since almost half the island is passionately opposed to such a submerging of their unique culture—or set free as an independent nation, the citizens of Puerto Rico will mean next to nothing to the powerbrokers in Washington.

The Democratic Primary is over, whatever Hillary Clinton may say or do between now and the Democratic Convention in August.

Obama has won it.

DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist. His latest book is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press and now available in paperback edition). His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net

 

Your Ad Here

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

May 02, 2016
Michael Hudson – Gordon Long
Wall Street Has Taken Over the Economy and is Draining It
Paul Street
The Bernie Fade Begins
Louis Yako
Dubai Transit
Bill Quigley
Teacher, Union Leader, Labor Lawyer: Profile of Chris Williams Social Justice Advocate
Patrick Cockburn
Into the Green Zone: Iraq’s Disintegrating Political System
Lawrence Ware
Trump is the Presidential Candidate the Republicans Deserve
Ron Jacobs
On the Frontlines of Peace: the Life of Daniel Berrigan
Ron Forthofer
Just Say No to Corporate Rule
Ralph Nader
The Long-Distance Rebound of Bernie Sanders
Ken Butigan
Remembering Daniel Berrigan, with Gratitude
Nicolas J S Davies
Escalating U.S. Air Strikes Kill Hundreds of Civilians in Mosul, Iraq
George Wuerthner
The Economic Value of Yellowstone National Park
Rivera Sun
Celebrating Mother Jones
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir and Postcolonialism
Mairead Maguire
Drop the Just War Theory
Weekend Edition
April 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
Vijay Prashad
Political Violence in Honduras
Paul Krane
Where Gun Control Ought to Start: Disarming the Police
David Anderson
Al Jazeera America: Goodbye to All That Jazz
Rob Hager
Platform Perversity: More From the Campaign That Can’t Strategize
Pat Williams
FDR in Montana
Dave Marsh
Every Day I Read the Book (the Best Music Books of the Last Year)
David Rosen
Job Satisfaction Under Perpetual Stagnation
John Feffer
Big Oil isn’t Going Down Without a Fight
Murray Dobbin
The Canadian / Saudi Arms Deal: More Than Meets the Eye?
Gary Engler
The Devil Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Is Washington Preparing for War Against Russia?
Manuel E. Yepe
The Big Lies and the Small Lies
Robert Fantina
Vice Presidents, Candidates and History
Mel Gurtov
Sanctions and Defiance in North Korea
Howard Lisnoff
Still the Litmus Test of Worth
Dean Baker
Big Business and the Overtime Rule: Irrational Complaints
Ulrich Heyden
Crimea as a Paradise for High-Class Tourism?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail