Two weeks ago, Lin-Manuel Miranda and the rest of the cast of Hamilton headed to Washington, D.C. to freestyle for Obama, perform a number of songs from his hit Broadway show, and host an education symposium for high school students. Although he excitedly tweeted about the event, Miranda also took this visit as a chance to stop by the Senate to ask for help for Puerto Rico, which is currently facing a budget shortage and impending default on its $78 billion debt.
He explained that the financial crisis has forced some of the special places that formed a part of his childhood to close. And he even joked that he’d give senators the hard-to-score Hamilton tickets in exchange for aiding Puerto Rico. “We face a financial crisis triple anything that you’re experiencing here in the United States, and it’s a solvable, fixable crisis,” he said. “What we really need is help.”
Today, The New York Times published Miranda’s op-ed, titled “Give Puerto Rico Its Chance to Thrive.” Miranda, ever the Hamilton expert, started his piece by citing Alexander Hamilton’s 1772 plea for hurricane-ravaged St. Croix. Fortune recently named Miranda one of the world’s greatest leaders, and this letter is further proof that the title is well deserved. Here’s a look at five important things he said in his piece:
On why he decided to speak out:
“I am the son of Puerto Rican parents. What can I say to persuade elected officials and policy makers to act? What influence do I have to change the minds and hearts of those in Congress to put aside their differences and deal with the crisis confronting 3.5 million American citizens in the Caribbean? I’m not a politician or an economist. I’m a storyteller.”
On his Puerto Rico:
“This is not the Puerto Rico I remember. Every summer my sister Luz and I stayed with our grandparents in Vega Alta, a small town on the northern coast. My grandfather managed the town credit union — a real-life George Bailey if ever there was one.”
Why the U.S. needs to act:
“But since it is a territory of the United States, there is no system in place to handle the financial and humanitarian crisis that is happening right now.
Please let us not get bogged down in Puerto Rico’s status. If a ship is sinking, you don’t ask, ‘Well, what type of ship is it and what type of ship should it be?’ You rescue the people aboard.”
On why he needs to speak out:
“This is not a Republican issue. This is not a Democratic issue. This is an American issue. When 3.5 million of our citizens face the consequences of financial collapse, we should act. Because Puerto Ricans can vote neither for the president nor for congressional representatives, it falls to us of Puerto Rican heritage in the continental United States to amplify their plea.”
On leaving politics out of the debt crisis:
“I write about Puerto Rico today just as Hamilton wrote about St. Croix in his time. Congress, please don’t play politics with the lives of 3.5 million Americans. Succor the miserable and lay up a treasure in heaven. We are counting on you.”