Tuesday’s headlines were all about how Trump wants to change the Census to add a citizenship question:
Adding a question about citizenship is guaranteed to lower the number of Latinos that respond and that is the entire point. It’s racist. It’s calculated. It’s forward thinking. It has absolutely nothing to do with Donald Trump.
Manipulating the Census to rig elections from 2021 to 2031 is a long term plan to keep Republicans in power as their extreme gerrymandering starts to fall apart. Does that sound like something Trump would care about? Trump literally does not plan ahead in terms of days, never mind years. Possessed of the attention of a goldfish with brain trauma, Trump wakes up every morning and just does whatever he sees on Fox. Putting together a plan to steal elections that won’t happen until three years from now is simply beyond his ability.
No, this is coming from Republicans who have sold the easily manipulated Trump on the idea because it will hurt Latinos, something that will please Trump’s white nationalist base. And while it’s true the move obviously targets immigrants and feeds the hatred of Trump’s deplorable supporters, that’s just a side effect of the overall goal of doing as sloppy a job of the Census as possible.
If you’ll recall, Trump’s initial pick to run the Census was Thomas Burnell, a professor with zero experience in government but who has championed voter suppression laws and racial gerrymandering. In fact, he wrote a book titled Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections Are Bad for America, making it clear his job was going to be to tamper with the Census in favor of the GOP.
That appointment fell through but Republicans are dead set on politicizing the Census and have been coming up with excuses why it won’t be done properly. Whether it’s a lack of funds or, laughably, a lack of workers, the plan to make a mess of the Census is well under way, a fact the NAACP is well aware of:
The NAACP said it is planning to file a lawsuit against the Census Bureau, the secretary of commerce and President Trump to force a more accurate count of minority populations such as those residing in Prince George’s County, Md., which had one of the highest undercounts nationwide in the last census.
Calling the government’s preparation for the 2020 count “conspicuously deficient,” the lawsuit will allege that the census violates a constitutional mandate to count all the people in the country and disproportionately harms African American and Hispanic populations.
The reasoning behind the Republican ploy to make a hash of the Census is really quite simple; the more disorganized it is, the easier it will be to “accidentally” undercount millions of minorities and to overcount millions of white people. The result will be more Republicans in Congress and less Democrats as well as more federal money for white Republican voters and less for Those People. The money aspect is a nice bonus but the main goal is to disenfranchise as many likely Democratic voters as possible. Combined with gerrymandering and voter suppression, this may extend the GOP’s already illegitimate power for another several years (assuming they can regain control after the coming midterm massacre).
By the time anyone can do an independent investigation of Republican monkey business, the new districts will be set and it will take years of expensive court cases to fix. With billionaires like the Kochs and the Mercers underwriting the destruction of American democracy, the money for lawyers will never dry up. Drag it out long enough and the political will to undo the damage will weaken as more pressing problems arise, like the coming economic collapse the GOP has been engineering.
Maintaining the broken status quo is easier than fixing it and that always benefits Republicans, thus sabotage is a key component of their political strategy. This is part of the reason the GOP still supports Trump even though in almost every other way he’s a disaster for them; he’s a bull in a china shop and Republicans can goad him into acts of destruction with little to no effort. It’s going to cost them in the short run but if they can rig the Census enough, it might just pay off in the long run.