How the Democratic and Republican platforms address the US territories

by Sep 14, 2020American Samoa, Elections, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, United States Virgin Islands0 comments

While the 2020 Democratic and Republican party platforms differ on many fronts, both speak in-depth about the United States territories, addressing economic development, Puerto Rican statehood, and the contributions of veterans in the territories.

Democratic Party

The 2020 Democratic platform advocates for Puerto Rico to have “self-determination on the issue of status,” and argues the same for other US territories. While it doesn’t speak beyond that in regards to statehood, the platform does advocate for voting rights in the territories, as well as territorial representation in the House. The platform also addresses recent natural disasters in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. It pledges to provide aid through federal programs including SNAP and the Affordable Care Act, as well renewable energy initiatives. In addition, it addresses plans to utilize these programs in response to the economic devastation in US territories resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The platform emphasizes the contributions of the citizens in the territories who have served in the US military. In it, Democrats “commit to ensuring veterans from the US territories have access to timely and quality health care and other benefits.” However, it also recognizes how US military intervention has proved harmful for the territories, specifically in Guam. The platform states that: “Democrats will continue to work with the people of Guam to properly memorialize residents who suffered unspeakable harm as a result of their US nationality during the Imperial Japanese occupation of Guam during World War II.” 

Republican Party

The 2020 Republican platform (which is actually a republish of the 2016 platform) also honors veterans from US territories. The platform notes its support for Puerto Rican statehood more explicitly than the Democratic platform, stating: “We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state.” It does not touch on granting statehood for other territories, but affirms that “we welcome their [the territories] greater participation in all aspects of the political process and affirm their right to seek the full extension of the Constitution with all the rights and responsibilities that entails.” 

The Republican platform also addresses economic struggles in the territories, but urges self-sufficiency as a solution, advocating for a stronger private sector and “exemption from laws that increase costs for their populations,” like the minimum wage and the Jones Act. Republicans seek to appoint a territorial advisory committee led by representatives from each territory which would communicate their needs to the federal government.