March 31, 2018: Republicans Warp Democracy and Now Try It with the Census

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross chuckles over his citizenship question for the 2020 census (AP)

Republicans have an ongoing problem:   Majorities of Americans oppose Republican positions on many Republican primary objectives, such as slashing taxes for the rich, cutting back Obamacare healthcare insurance, reducing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and ending regulations that protect specific items like the environment and net neutrality. 

As a result, Republicans campaign on social issues (guns, abortion, alleged coastal elitism), claims that are not true (there is no global warming, China has taken more U.S. manufacturing jobs than automation) – and do everything they can to diminish Democratic votes.  The latter includes extreme gerrymandering, an issue now before the U.S. Supreme Court.  In the Wisconsin case before the Court, in the election held after Republicans drew the districts to maximize their votes, Republican candidates won only 48.6 percent of the statewide vote but captured a 60-to-39 seat advantage in the State Assembly.

Republican projects also include voter suppression by requiring documentation reminiscent of the old poll-tax days.  This includes requiring documentation such as drivers licenses that the elderly and poor find difficult to obtain, and limiting absentee ballots and restricting poll times to mostly work hours.

The latest Republican maneuver is trying to “gerrymander” the U.S. Census that by law occurs every ten years.   The Census results are used to draw political districts, determine how many representatives each state receives and distribute government funds across the country.  In recent years conservatives have argued that the Census should count only those eligible to vote, not immigrants who are not U.S. citizens and not children regardless of citizenship. 

The U.S. Constitution itself requires that the Census count the states’ respective “numbers”, which has always been interpreted to count everyone.  The Constitution notoriously mandated that slaves be counted as 3/5ths of a person, and women and men who did not own property were counted even though they could not vote at the time. 

This past week the Trump administration sprung a requirement that the Census questionnaire include a question asking whether the respondent is a citizen or not.  Last fall the Census Bureau conducted a study and concluded that many immigrants would refuse to respond to the Census given that question

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) publicly admitted that adding a citizenship question would boost Republican voting power.  Fortunately, a number of states, including California, immediately sued over including the question, although it is not clear what the outcome will be.

One of the key precepts of our Constitutional government is that the Constitution be applied fairly.  Today’s Republican party rejects that idea, proving yet it again that it places party above our country.


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