Census and Citizenship: The Wrong Question
Larry Thornberry
by
Yuri Shevtsov/Shutterstock

Ever notice how we so often ask the wrong question? Which usually leads to the wrong and/or the irrelevant answer. Sometimes I think our public discourse is one long non-sequitur. We’re currently roiled by the question of whether or not the 2020 census form should ask if the person filling out the form is a citizen of the United States. The nerve of those census guys.

The Trump administration says the question is necessary as an aid to complying with some of the more arithmetic requirements of the Voting Rights Act. (Whether these requirements still make sense — or ever did — are questions for another day.) These requirements oblige us to sort citizens from gate crashers. The Blue Birds from the Cow Birds. Democrats are against including the question, claiming it would make it less likely that citizens of other countries here illegally — a major Democrat constituency — would fill out and return the form. This would make the population count less accurate, thereby, and here’s the real point of their opposition, lessening the number of Democrat-majority congressional districts. (Funny how Democrats have not been moved to object when the census long form has asked far more buttinsky questions than “Are you a citizen?” How it’s a legitimate concern of the federals how many toilets I have in my house, I’ve no clue.)

Those old white guys writing our constitution in Philadelphia these many years ago got an amazing number of things right. Many things righter than they have been got before or since. But just as God had His inattentive moments during Creation when He gave us radishes and Brussels sprouts, so did the Founders commit an unforced error when they decreed the census should count all U.S. “inhabitants” rather than all U.S. “citizens.” E-Founders, if you’re keeping score.

As is so often the case with Democrats, they’re attempting to sell this one on the basis of principle, when it’s about power and nothing else. Congressional districts are apportioned on the basis of the census count, which includes illegals. So not counting citizens of other countries in the census means fewer Democrats in Congress. Population — of Americans and otherwise — is also the basis for handing out federal grant money. (Why this money should be extracted from localities and sent on a two-way trip to Washington — with 30 percent taken out for administration — and returned with federal strings attached, is also a question for another day.) These are the only reasons why Democrats don’t want to scare off Mexicans and Colombians and Salvadorans and Guatemalans from participating in the census. They also explain why when Democrats say they too want border security, they’re lying. They don’t. It’s not in their power interest to in any way slow the flow of undocumented Democrats from south of the border. This also explains why a white-as-rice Irish guy named O’Rourke, who fetched up in Texas, is pleased to be called “Beto.”

I’m sure by now nimble TAS readers have seen that the question we should be asking is: Why the hell should Mexicans, Colombians, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans be represented in the United States Congress? A corollary to that one is: Why should we believe what any Democrat says on anything having to do with immigration?

Larry Thornberry
Larry Thornberry
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Larry Thornberry is a writer in Tampa.
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