LTE: The Bad News
This article is fraught with bad news. Really, REALLY bad news. On May 11, 2017 the Director of the Census, John Thompson, abruptly resigned from office. I know, a total snoozefest, right? Actually – as you will see in the following paragraphs, this could be the downfall of American Democracy as we know it. To understand this complicated mess, we have to delve a little into the weeds. Bear with me, I’ll try to make this relatively interesting.
The Director of the Census, John Thompson, had been with the Census Bureau for nearly 30 years until his unexpected resignation on the same day that James Comey was fired from the FBI. Comey’s high profile firing is probably why you didn’t know that Thompson’s resignation is a big, hairy deal. Thompson has been integral in the execution of creating an updated, IT based Census system for the 2020 population count. He was recently grilled at a House Appropriations Subcommittee about cost over runs on the new system and consequently received 10% less funding than requested in the 2017 budget (though historically the Census receives MORE money in the lead up to the count). Then, PACHOW!, he resigned.
Not having a Census Director, a mere three years before the Constitutionally mandated count in 2020 has already had major ramifications. Important dry run tests have already been canceled and field office openings have been postponed. There is no telling if staffing or infrastructure will be ready for a thorough count in three years with no leadership.
You may be thinking, “So the Deputy Director of the Census can fill in, right?” Nope. Nancy Potok resigned in January. Or, “Well, how about the Deputy Secretary of Commerce? Can that person fill this crucial role until we get a new Census Director?” Uh, no. Chicago Cubs Owner and massive douche, Todd Ricketts, removed his name from consideration amidst domestic abuse allegations and Trump has yet to name a replacement for confirmation. So not only are we facing a massive leadership vacuum in the Census, the Secretary of Commerce, which oversees the Census Bureau, is Wilber Ross; a vulture capitalist worth $2.5 billion, who is known as “The King of Bankruptcy” – for good reason too. If it hadn’t been for Ross twisting some investor’s arms in the 1980’s, Donald J. Trump’s bankrupt Atlantic City Casinos would have been sold off at auction. Meh, that’s what friends are for. But don’t expect him to be a “friend” to the working class. He is famous for buying struggling businesses and selling them in pieces at the expense of the workers. A lot like Richard Gere’s character in Pretty Woman, only with his resemblance to the Crypt Keeper, only a Hooker with a Heart of Gold could tolerate Ross nekid.
So let’s go back to why it is an enormous deal that we are at a critical stage for the Census. You may be thinking, “Who Cares? All they do is count people every ten years, right?” Wrong! Think about the consequences of Donnie Trump appointing one of his white supremacist lackeys to lead the Census. It is estimated that by the year 2044 Caucasians will be in the minority in terms of population. I imagine that scares Trump and his buddies to death. So what if the Census changed the rules regarding how we count the population just a little bit? What if they started counting people only via electronic means, such as the internet? Anyone who doesn’t have access to the web would not be counted. And that is assuming that the currently untested system works properly and is not hacked (ie.: Trump/Russia).
How about if the Census only counted English speakers or required a state issued ID to count as part of the population? What about if the Census stopped counting current or previous felons or simply chose not to educate population centers with high minority counts about the Census in a time when no one answers their snail mail or opens their doors? Huge numbers of the population would go uncounted. By under-counting minorities, blue states would instantly show millions fewer people. Those states, in turn, would lose Congressional Districts AND (Trumps favorite thing) Electoral College votes. Anyone who doesn’t fit into the demographic that Trump’s puppet chooses, instantly becomes invisible. They will have no say in presidential elections, federal funding based on population disappears and red states become exponentially more powerful. It’s gerrymandering on a national scale.
But wait, there’s more! To this point, I have led you to believe that there may be a replacement Director of the Census. But Trump has only nominated 96 of 557 key positions that require Congressional approval. There’s actually a strategy to this under-staffing madness. Right wing psycho and Trump Aid, Steve Bannon, proudly proclaims a desire to “deconstruct the Administrative State”. By intentionally mismanaging the government with huge numbers of vacancies in key positions that keep the government running, we will indeed witness the federal government fall apart. Additionally, Bannon, coupled with the Heritage Foundation and the Republican National Committee routinely demonize the Census. It’s not even far fetched to believe the trio will encourage their supporters to brutalizing census takers with a flurry of conspiracy theories disseminated through social media. The combination of all the above factors could leave the agency irreversibly doomed.
Here’s why Republicans have it out for the Census: EVERY government agency relies on data collected by the Census. If we don’t have an accurate picture of where population is, what the median income/education level/living conditions are, there is no way to effectively operate most government agencies. School funding, infrastructure, wages, equal treatment and everything in between will be jacked up and most likely, benefits will be steered toward wealthy, Caucasian citizens. Exactly what the Republican agenda has been for the past 40+ years.
If you think this is not possible, think again. Trumps all-powerful son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is under investigation RIGHT NOW for working with the Russians to manipulate highly segmented pockets of voters. This is not a conspiracy theory. It’s real and the administration already has the desire and data to pull off the feat.
To be perfectly honest, there is very little we can do to counter this impending disaster. The most practical action you can take is to call CNN’s national headquarters to request they do their job and report about the dire consequences of a Census Director with a sinister plot – or equally as bad – an underfunded failure of a 2020 Census. Their number is 404-827-1500 (press 1). You can also tell your friends, share this article and my Fight Like a Girl Crash Course on this topic (see Facebook page) and send Facebook messages and Tweets to all the major media outlets (less FOX).
Absolutely no one is talking about this and this quagmire could very well change the entire make up of the country. Not for the next ten years, but forever. It is up to you (and your entire social network) to call the above number, take action and make this a talking point.
Fight Like a Girl