Greenland, Our Fifty First State?

So apparently President Trump has inquired about the possibility of the United States acquiring Greenland, of all places- with, it is said, varying degrees of seriousness. This produced much mockery on the interwebs and a polite and firm refusal on the part of Greenland's government- but all of it got me thinking: how realistic is this notion, how would it all work and what would it look like, if it did?

Look, it sounds crazy, but it's actually not a new idea. I guess Harry Truman tried to buy Greenland for $100 million after the war. When Denmark fell to the Nazis during the Second World War, we stepped in and help defend the place and we've already got an Air Force Base up at Thule. It's not a completely crazy idea- but it is a complicated one.

First, yes, we can technically 'acquire' Greenland. It's probably not the word I would have used- perhaps, I would have said, 'maybe we can extend an invitiation to the people of Greenland to join our Union'- 'acquire' makes it seem like it's a piece of property and/or real estate. It's 2019. You can't just buy up large swathes of land without sweet talking the people who actually live there a little bit. They've got to want to come.

But let's say you do that- let's say you wine 'em, dine 'em, convince 'em to the ditch the Danes and switch teams. I'm assuming it would take at least a 2/3 majority vote to really seal the deal if you want to do it right. Let's say that happens-- there's where it gets interesting to me:

Greenland has about 56,000 people- which in terms of population puts it firmly in the category of most American Territories-- it would slot in right above American Samoa but below the U.S. Virgin Islands. Greenland currently enjoys broad autonomy and it's own government as do our Territories- but one potential hitch might be representation on a National Level. Greenland gets two seats in the Danish Parliament and they might not be crazy about just being a territory with no representation in Washington- if I were Greenland, I'd demand full statehood to join- because, why not? The interesting sentence when looking into how statehood works is this:
When the people of a territory or a region thereof have grown to a sufficient population
What constitutes 'sufficient population'? There doesn't appear to be a hard number anywhere I could find, but if they did join, Greenland would get three electoral votes and by our smallest state, population wise by a sizable margin.

We don't have a national language, but Greenland would be non-English speaking-- so someone in the Federal Government would have to learn Greenlandic. Also, there's the matter of- surprise, surprise! Health care! I guess if they fund their own health care system, it might be okay-- since according to what I found on Wikipedia, they took over the system from Denmark in 1992. According to Wikipedia, as of 2006, Health Care was more the 18% of total government expenditures and amounted to $139,508,740 in US Dollars- which is not an inconsequential sum for a state, I don't think.

The other thing I considered was adding Greenland to another state- to make a Newfoundland and Labrador type of situation. After all, Maine used to be part of Massachusetts and Virginia used to have West Virginia, so it'd be sort of a reverse of that. But the size of Greenland also limits the options. No state is going to want to take on 56,000 people unless it gets them something in return- and even then, with Greenlandic health care obligations, that's a big ask. The only state I could come up with would be Idaho of all places...  56,000 people would push them ahead of West Virginia in terms of population and might net them an extra Congressional seat and thus an electoral vote. (I think this is a remote and probably politically unpalatable option, but it would be an option.)

If you didn't want to make Greenland a full state- because after all, places like the Virgin Islands, Samoa, etc. are also not full states either, then the question of representation could be finessed by a Constitutional Amendment allowing Territories and Districts (distinctly not states) Delegates that can vote just like other members of Congress. They would have representation- but not Senators, since they're not states. (I also think they should be allowed to vote for President as well, but let's focus on improving our democracy one step at a time.) We should probably do something like this anyway, in my opinion- which would have the side benefit of resolving at least some of D.C's status if their delegate is given full representation.

So, there are some hurdles to be cleared if the United States is serious about getting Greenland to switch teams, but it's none of them appear to be dealbreakers at least on our side of the Atlantic. Personally, I think President Trump should open his arms to all territories and places in the world that want to join the United States-- we might be surprised who wants to join. (Also: new states and 'additions' to our country. Not a new idea either-- this is a fairly comprehensive proposal for adding a ton of new states.)


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