2020 Census May Be Rigged

A critical function of our federal government that gets lost in the daily news cycle typhoon of Trump’s blathering, impending wars, and 2020 Presidential jockeying is the decennial census. The Census is mandated by Article I Section II of the Constitution (though I am uncertain if we’re still using that dusty old thing anymore.)

Every 10 years the federal government and their state and local partners tally every single person living in the United States. The Census is doubtless a mundane procedure but it is critical to determining Congressional representation, federal funding, and acquiring general demographic information on the US population. Getting an accurate count of persons living here every 10 years is one of the most important things the government does.

Ideally it is a non-political operation but in 2020 that may be a naive expectation. The current administration is effectively trying to rig the population count to ensure Republican advantages in legislatures across the country.

Again, the Census Bureau is tasked with tallying every single man, woman, child, young and old, homeless, citizen and non-citizen currently living within our borders. It is NOT merely a count of documented citizens. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross attempted to add a “citizenship question” to the form after a GOP political operative concluded that it would advantage Republicans when districts are redrawn in 2020.

I know, I know — it seems like an obvious question to ask, “are you a US citizen?” However, various studies have determined that is an explicitly political tactic that will result in undercounting diverse urban populations thus disproportionately empowering white suburban and rural populations. The Supreme Court is set to rule on the Constitutionality of this citizenship question–or lack thereof–at the end of the month. How the conservative majority rules will have enormous, generational political implications.

It is a clever yet cynical strategy by a small minority of politicians to protect their power by disenfranchising communities of color. The citizenship question is designed to discourage immigrant communities, documented and otherwise, from participating in the count.

When entire segments of the population distrust the counting process, the population data will inevitably be inaccurate. That data informs who gets representation in Congress and how much money is appropriated by the federal government to those areas. Voters, legal citizens stand to lose representation in Congress if they happen to live in an area with undocumented workers. Population-based programs will be underfunded because their population was deliberately undercounted.

With overwhelming control of the federal bureaucracy and the courts, it seems likely this question will be on the 2020 Census and the underhanded strategy will pay off for the power-brokers clinging to their influential positions.

Derek Smith is a Frewsburg native.