51-star flag

In the wake of Puerto Rico's overwhelming vote in favor of U.S. statehood, what would a 51-star flag look like? There are many possibilities. Picture above is the likely answer, but the top one here is a wonderfully cheeky option. My thought is this: isn't D.C. going to scream blue murder if Puerto Rico gets in and it does not? Maybe we should be looking at 52 star flags. [Smithsonian via The Awl]


      1. I agree – reminiscent of the original 13 colonies flag (and some other circular variants we’ve had in the past, apparently) and if we add a couple more states any time soon we can just make it three stars in the center instead of 1 and keep the same pattern.

    1. Are we not sufficiently advanced to make stars that twinkle on our flags?  And stripes that wave themselves.

      1. I’m trying to think of an “any sufficiently advanced flag is indistinguishable from magic” joke but failing.   

        Maybe we can have a flag where 51 stars are visible at any one time in a projection of the 51 brightest stars in the night sky over some arbitrary location in America?

  1. It’s slightly more symmetrical than the 49-star flag they used briefly between Alaska and Hawaii. That one had seven rows of seven, every other one offset to the right.

  2. There’s a fairly solid argument for keeping DC stateless. The lines between state and federal government would be pretty blurry, could add a ton of complication.

    PR at least has a great precedent in Hawaii.

      1. This is called retrocession. It’s a reasonable idea (, unfortunately neither Maryland nor DC really wants it to happen.

        1. Yeah, having lived in the DC area, there are several parts of DC which are crime ridden projects. Although there are a few areas of desirable property, the upscale residents of the MD and VA suburbs in the greater DC area are unlikely to want to annex the ‘hood into their tax base.

      2. That’s already happened once.  DC was originally carved out of Maryland and Virginia.  The Virginia portion was returned in the 1840’s, including Alexandria.

    1. I’m not sure, but isn’t DC the only constituency in the democratic world (Ok, aside from Palestine) that doesn’t get to vote in federal elections?

      Why is there a ‘fairly solid argument’ for DC, which doesn’t apply for London, Ottawa, or Paris? 

      Or for Kabul, Tirana, Algiers, Andorra la Vella, Luanda, Saint John’s, Buenos Aires, Yerevan, Canberra, Vienna, Baku, Nassau, Manama, Dhaka, Bridgetown, Minsk, Brussels, Belmopan, Porto-Novo, Thimphu, La Paz/Sucre, Sarajevo, Gaborone, Brasilia, Bandar Seri Begawan, Sofia, Ouagadougou, Bujumbura, Phnom Penh, Yaounde, Praia, Bangui, N’Djamena, Santiago, Beijing, Bogota, Moroni, Brazzaville, Kinshasa, San Jose, Yamoussoukro/Abidjan, Zagreb, Havana, Nicosia, Prague, Copenhage, Djibouti, Roseau, Santo Domingo, Dili, Quito, Cairo, San Salvador, Malabo, Asmara, Tallinn, Addis Ababa, Suva, Helsinki, Libreville, Banjul, Tbilisi, Berlin, Accra, Athens, Saint George’s, Guatemala City, Conakry, Bissau, Georgetown, Port-au-Prince, Tegucigalpa, Budapest, Reykjavik, New Delhi, Jakarta, Tehran, Baghdad, Dublin, Jerusalem, Rome, Kingston, Tokyo, Amman, Astana, Nairobi, Tarawa Atoll, Seoul, Pristina, Kuwait City, Bishkek, Vientiane, Riga, Beirut, Maseru, Monrovia, Tripoli, Vaduz, Vilnius, Luxembourg, Skopje, Antananarivo, Lilongwe, Kuala Lumpur, ,Male, Bamako, Valletta, Majuro, Nouakchott, Port Louis, Mexico City, Palikir, Chisinau, Monaco, Ulaanbaatar, Podgorica, Rabat, Maputo, Rangoon/Naypyidaw, Windhoek, Amsterdam/The Hague, Wellington, Managua, Niamey, Abuja, Oslo, Muscat, Islamabad, Melekeok, Panama City, Port Moresby, Asuncion, Lima, Manila, Warsaw, Lisbon, Bucharest, Kigali, Basseterre, Castries, Kingstown, Apia, San Marino, Sao Tome, Dakar, Belgrade, Victoria, Freetown, Singapore, Bratislava, Ljubljana, Honiara, Mogadishu, Pretoria/Cape Town/Bloemfontein, Juba/Ramciel, Madrid, Colombo/Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte, Khartoum, Paramaribo, Mbabane, Stockholm, Bern, Damascus, Taipei, Dushanbe, Dar es Salaam/Dodoma, Bangkok, Lome, Nuku’alofa, Port-of-Spain, Tunis, Ankara, Ashgabat, Vaiaku village in Funafuti, Kampala, Kyiv, Montevideo, Port-Vila, Caracas, Hanoi, Sanaa, Lusaka, or Harare.

      /Hates American Exceptionalism.

      1. We get to vote in the federal elections, if the one hour wait I stood in last Tuesday is any indication. We don’t have any voting representation in the federal government though.

        As a DC resident it strikes me as a little insane that I live two miles from the Capitol but the people in Puerto Rico have a better chance of living in a state than I do.

      2.  DC does get to vote in federal elections as of the 23rd Amendment. The issue is that it doesn’t have voting representation in Congress.

      3. Yeah- unlike those places, the District (NOT state) of Columbia was specifically set aside from the states to avoid being captured by the regional interests of Virginia and Maryland (among other reasons). IT WAS DESIGNED THAT WAY. 

        /Hates Historical Illiteracy

        1.  I’m not American, so I’ll take a mulligan for my (American) Historical Illiteracy.  Note, I said ‘constituency’, not ‘state.  I wonder how you’d do in, say, the Quiet Revolution, why July 1st is celebrated in Canada but observed in Newfoundland & Labrador, le Grand Dérangement, or Louis Riel.

          So, you’re saying that all those world capitals have been or are in mortal danger of being captured by whatever regional constituencies they happen to be in?  That Ottawa has been captured by the regional interests of Ontario?  You’d have a really difficult time convincing me of that.  A lot of White Southern Ontario Racists® and pretty much all of Alberta are always going on about how Ottawa’s been captured by Québec. 

          What’s different about the USA vis-à-vis DC, such that you can’t give them representation?  Is it genetic thing?  Manifest destiny®?  Or perhaps (tongue firmly in cheek) because Washington DC has a significant African American population?

          Why not carry that argument further?  Whatever county a state capital is in shouldn’t have representation, because the state capital could be captured by the municipal interests.  Likewise, when a mayor gets elected, his ward should automatically be barred from municipal council meetings.

    1. I dunno, you should take a look at the most excellent DC flag. Perhaps we should just steal that design and come up with some bogus mythology for what the 3 stars stand for.

      1. To be fair, the actual story behind the DC flag (that it is based on George Washington’s family crest) is a pretty good one in and of itself.

  3. The vote in Puerto Rico wasn’t overwhelming. The referendum was complicated, and if you count the ballots that were left blank or invalidated (as the PPD encouraged their supporters to do), statehood garnered less than 45% of the vote. The PPD encouraged blank/invalid ballots as there was no way for their choice, an enhanced version of the current commonwealth status, to be expressed through the referendum. Almost 500,000 of the total 1.8 million ballots were invalidated or left blank on the second part of the referendum. (Edited because I got the numbers wrong the first time)

    1. In fact, if you add in those blank ballots it shrinks even more.  It was 45% before you count those ballots, iirc.

    2. You can’t count blank ballots as votes against – that’s not how democracy works. While the question was strangely presented, the majority voted for change of status, and the majority of those voting for a change of status chose statehood.

      1. Yes, but that was a very bad way to have the questions asked.  It was a very clear ploy by the pro-state folks to twist the vote.  The US is very likely to reject it, and rightfully so.  The difference between a “change in status” that leads to independence and one that leads to statehood is vast.  The US already warned that if they worded the question in that manner, the US likely wouldn’t accept the vote.  They will almost certainly have to do it again before the US will accept the vote, and when they do it again it will be a straight up, “Do you want to apply to become a US state, yes or no?”

        Personally, I am all for Puerto Rico joining the Union, but it has to be clear and completely unambiguous that they actually want to join.  To get that, you need a straight up or down vote, and at a bare minimum, you need a majority.

  4. My favorite comment on this was that we should add Puerto Rico, D.C., and [something else] to go to 53 states, a prime number, and thus literally be “One Nation, Indivisible.”

  5. Add Puerto Rico, subtract the New Confederacy (as some states reject last week’s election results), re-incorporate the bits that secede from those states (Texas might not survive in one piece and many urban areas might find them engulfed like Cold War-era West Berlin), and we just be able to reuse some of the designs in use before the addition of AK and HI. 

      1. The New Confederacy should supply enough to go on. And it’s not states, as in governors or other electeds, but the usual rump of neo-confederate neanderthals who still can’t accept Appomattox. The beauty of democracy and public petitions is that it allows everyone a voice but some voices you wish were modified with a soupçon of commonsense.

    1. Well then, stop charging residents of DC federal income tax.  No more taxation without representation.

    1. West Virginia was formed when people in the region rejected secession. I guarantee that even if one state calling for secession actually succeeds in doing so there are regions within its borders that are so “blue” they’ll resist and create another state to compensate for the loss.

      And I think it would be funny as hell for a state like, say, Texas, to have to deal with an independent (and possibly even hostile) autonomous Austin.

      1.  It would be a particularly nasty issue considering how the votes breaks down in most red states. The state maps are big fields of red with the occasional lone blue county. Except that those occasional blue counties represent population and industrial centers.

        So, what, Texas secedes and Houston stays, in some sort of weird West-Berlin arrangement?

      2. i would welcome a Free State of Austin if the entire rest of the state wanted to secede and deal with the problems they’ve created all by themselves.

        1. That’s kind of what I was thinking. There are a lot of people in “red” states who can stamp their feet and scream like spoiled children, but, when it comes down to it, we all know secession is an empty threat.

    2. If my home state gets the required number of signatures, I hope the president responds with one finger.

    3. Let ’em go; most of the Red States take more in federal money than they contribute, while most of the Blue States pay more than they take. Let’s see how those red states do on their own…

      1. Living as I do in a Red State I’d still rather not secede, although the area where I live would probably vote to remain part of the Union even if the rest of the state wanted to leave. That’s also why I suspect many people in the area where I live would rather work toward contributing our fair share to the upkeep of the nation as a whole than continue sponging off the Blue States.

        So please don’t write all of us off, even though I realize the country as a whole would be better off without the likes of Scott DesJarlais.

        1. You’re absolutely right (NPI). Recently we’ve (I’ve) fallen in to this political hatemongering trap that the media has perpetuated largely for their own ratings. The truth is that most states were pretty evenly split, with 90% of the voters choosing their candidate for sensible, logical reasons (even if you didn’t agree with 45% of them). The other 10% of the electorate are right-wing and left-wing nutters who have pretty much divided this country, making it very hard for reasonable people to have thoughtful discussions about the issues without biting eachother’s heads off.

          We all need to remember that every state is filled mostly with people who are smart and capable of compromise. 

          1. The other 10% of the electorate are right-wing and left-wing nutters who have pretty much divided this country

            10% left-wing? Maybe 3% on a good day. Unless your definition of left-wing nutter is what Europe calls ‘moderate right’.

          2. Lately, yes the split has been leaning right. But in other years its leaned left (at least from some people’s perspective). I’m trying to be balanced here…

          3. Who are the left ‘nutters’ you’re talking about?  There’s some kind of far left extreme that has a seat at the table when it comes to the political dialogue in the larger media?  And who are their elected representatives? Like who are their Michelle Bachman’s, Joe Walsh’s, Alan West’s etc. etc.?

  6. If I understand correctly Congress (not just the Senate) must approve a new state by simple majority. I have a hard time seeing the GOP-controlled House approving the addition of 3.7 million Hispanics in one swell foop.

    1.  The republican party platform includes explicit support for the statehood of puerto rico, so you may be surprised.  Likewise, the Democrats support the outcome of the referendum, whatever it is – so their party platform has them supporting statehood as well in this case.  I expect you will see a relatively easy approval by congress, though puerto rico may still choose to reject statehood when it has its referendum on the matter at its post-acceptance constitutional convention. 

      That’s how i understand it working, at least.

      1. I disagree.  

        First, the Republican platform is just political posturing and means nothing in reality.

        Second, a State of Puerto Rico would send 5 or 6 new Democratic reps to the House of Representatives and two Democratic Senators, and probably have 9 or 10 safe Dem votes in the Electoral College.  Since the number of House seats is set at 435, those seats would have to come from somewhere, and no matter how you look at it, it won’t be to the Republicans’ advantage.

        In the past, states have been admitted in such ways as to keep the political balance in Washington the same as it was before.  Before the Civil War, free states and slave states were admitted together.  Even Hawaii and Alaska were admitted with this philosophy in mind.  In all reality we’d have to find a state to admit to balance out Puerto Rico – and Washington DC wouldn’t work in that formula at all, just more Dems.

    2. They would accept it just as they are going to accept immigration reform during this coming term. I think this election was a wake up call for the Republican Party. With the current demographics, it is impossible to win the Presidency or the majority of the Senate* without strong Hispanic support. As it stands, the Republican Party simply can’t offend Hispanics if they want to survive. If current trends continue and Republicans continue to offend Hispanics, many people are predicting that Texas will be a blue state in 2020 or sooner, at which point it is game over for the Republicans.

      *Republicans will still be able to win the House for a little while due to gerrymandering. Without gerrymandering the Democrats would have also won the House this election.

      1. Do you know how many times I hit the snooze button before heading my wake up calls?  Think back to Republican primaries and ask yourself if that lineup was really the lineup of a party about to come to their senses.

        I think the Republicans will need to be thumped solidly at least one more time.  The Republic establishment might understand the danger, but that doesn’t do any good if your primary is decided by white Evangelicals. 

        1. The “party faithful”, which most of us would call the extremist elements in the party, immediately responded to defeat by baying for more extreme positions and purges of moderates and moderation.

  7. I’m from Puerto Rico and for me is like this. The day that the U.S. Congress tell the residents of the island “Hey listen up “Boricuas” here are your choices. CHOOSE!” all referendums are a waste of time and money.

    So for an island that on the GOP view change from being a “Republica Bananera” to a “Republica Cuponera” translation “Banana Republic” to “Welfare Republic” ( in Spanish it rimes and welfare here is called coupons) I don’t see us ever having a chance to be a state. And the GOP adding almost 4 million democrats to the nation you know that will never gonna happen.

    Also if I’m not mistaken the U.S have the power to give us away to any  other country. That’s a scary thought!

    I always wonder what live here would be like if Spain or France was still under control?

    Remember that Puerto Rico is a “War Booty” and lord do woman here have a lot of that. Cough!* Sorry what we were talking about?

    And for all that worry on how the stars would look like. Here you go! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HDeEbJyNK8

      1. I’m a working citizen that pays taxes etc etc. I have to spend a lot of money for my health condition. So I can only Hope, Wish and Dream!

  8. If we’re going to revisit the list of states (and I’m actually for giving PR statehood if that’s what its people wants, which the recent referendum seems a bit weak on), then not only do we have to give representation in Congress to residents of DC (either by statehood or by retrocession of land not occupied by the Federal government), we also have to consider other huge issues – such as why do the 600,000 people of Wyoming have the same number of senators as the 40,000,000 people of California? I’m sure the people of Wyoming are all sterling folks (much as I regret their overall political leanings), but I know a lot of Californians and suspect they’re not actually 60-odd times less important.

    1. Why all states have the same number of senators? This is by design by the founding fathers. All states have the same number of senators to ensure one of the bicameral wings of Congress does NOT fall under tyranny of more populated states. As much as you may regret the political leanings of Wyoming, they might feel the same about yours. Let the House play out the population game. The issue becomes if PR becomes a state, we now have 102 Senators with the 2 leaning much more blue than red. 

      1. The enlightened founders would be puking buckets.  Tyranny is having your votes mean nothing because a bunch of backwards hicks refuse to move along with progress.

  9. Rest easy, DC.  There’s no conceivable way the Rabid Republicans would let PR in, knowing that it would be a solid blue state.

  10. If you Americans are gonna keep changing the number of states, why not just Velcro the stars on? But seriously, given the furor over changing the color of folding money, I can’t see folks being happy about accepting a different flag.

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