Here we go again! America’s decennial spectacle, the Census
As Pericles said, “Just because you don’t take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you.” Nothing is more illustrative of the noble Athenian’s point than the American Census. The count is made, and you become part of a political calculus. In a parliamentary democracy, that is expected.
Since 1790, every ten years the United States has conducted a headcount. Unlike much of what the government does these days, there is actually a constitutional basis for the Census. Article I Section 2 empowers Congress to conduct a census in “such a manner as they shall by Law direct.” That law is codified as Title 13 of the US Code. Of course, the implementation of any law is subject to interpretation by federal judges, some of whom have legislated – ruled, I mean – that illegal aliens should be included in the Census and thereby counted for purposes of congressional reapportionment. As seats in the US House of Representatives are apportioned according to population, the count is of great political importance.
On April 26, the Census Bureau released some of its results, revealing that on April 1, 2020, America’s resident population was 331,449,281. The 2010 Census had us at 308,745,538. This increase of only 7.4 percent over ten years is the second smallest in history, the slowest being the depression-era 1930s at 7.3 percent. Below-replacement fertility and a slightly slower pace of immigration explain this slower population growth. While immigration is expected to increase during the Biden administration, that remains to be seen.
The figures released a few days ago as they relate to the upcoming congressional reapportionment differ considerably from a set of estimates the Bureau released in December. The just-released results would give us the smallest congressional reapportionment in US history, which is suspicious, because so-called blue states (left-of-center) in the past few months have exceeded the December estimates by 2.5 million people, while traditionally red (right-of-center) states have come up a half million less.
This degree of divergence is most unusual. Stephen Moore and E. J. Antoni of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, having analyzed the results, ask: “Was the Census Bureau count rigged?... Was it manipulated by the Biden team to hand more seats to the Democrats and to get more money — federal spending is often allocated based on population — for the blue states?”
If the December 2020 estimates had held up, as is normally the case, Texas would have gained three seats (instead of two), Florida would have gained two seats (instead of one), and Arizona would have picked up a seat. At the same time, New York would have lost two seats (rather than one), and Rhode Island one seat instead of remaining the same. Analysts have cited that:
In 2010, every state’s actual count was within 0.4 percent of the Census estimate, and 30 were within 0.2 percent. In 2020, 19 states were off by a full percentage point, eight were off by 2 percent with New York and New Jersey off by more than 4 percent.
According to Moore and Antoni, “The Census Bureau needs to tell Congress how these revisions under Biden were so much larger than normal and so weighted in one direction: toward the blue states.”
Also, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials deemed the Census Bureau’s count “surprising,” as states with substantial Hispanic populations (Texas, Florida and Arizona) failed to gain as many seats as anticipated from the estimates.
The Bureau of the Census has responded by saying that doing their job in the midst of a pandemic has been a challenge.
Yet the Census is behind us, so we now have an opportunity to observe “democracy in action” as congressional districts are redrawn to comport with the national body count. The usual political blood sport will follow -- gerrymandering, recriminations and lawsuits, a sad spectacle that the more jaded among us find amusing.
However legitimate or not, the latest US Census follows a continuing trend of the last several decades where population (and thus congressional representation) is shifting from the rust belt Northeast and Midwest towards the South and Rocky Mountain states. There is no dispute that a growing number of Americans are leaving the more “progressive” blue states for more “conservative” Southern and Rocky Mountain States. This has been attributed to lower taxes, less congestion, and less “diversity.”
In 1990 New York had 31 House seats. The 2020 Census has the Empire State slated for 26, a decline of 16 percent. Meanwhile, the 2020 apportionment has Texas gaining two seats, lifting it to 38 House districts, up from 32 after the 1990 reapportionment. One could postulate that New York’s loss is Texas’s gain, but it is a bit more complex. These numbers determine the Electoral College vote, which is winner-take-all in most states and decisive to the quadrennial slugfest for the White House.
In the most recent Census, California lost a seat (one), for the first time. This was due to significant out-migration, a trend that has rapidly accelerated in the last decade. California was among the first “majority-minority” states in the continental US and has changed from a solidly Republican-leaning red state to a solid blue state bastion of Democratic power. Most of those leaving California are categorized as “White non-Hispanic.” Where are they going? The Census offers a clue. Colorado, Oregon, Montana and Texas had enough population gain to boost their congressional representation. It remains to be seen how these people will vote in their new home states.
Currently Democrats have a tenuous 223-to-212 majority (when all seats are filled) in the US House, and Republicans have a better-than-even chance of winning back control of the chamber in the 2022 election.
Perhaps in response to this, the Biden administration has announced that refugee admissions to the US will increase. It is no secret that the administration is motivated by factors other than humanitarian compassion in the drive for increased refugee resettlement and lax border control.
So congressional reapportionment will be chaos as usual. But one thing is for sure: the changing demographic profile of the US population spells trouble for Republicans in the long run, as the overall percentage of those groups that lean heavily Democratic (Hispanics, Asians) rapidly increases, while that of White Americans, who lean Republican, shrinks.
In addition, there is much going on in America that the Census does not reveal. Religious faith declines while the secular religion of cultural Marxism (political correctness) reigns supreme. When a population comprises people with little in common, social cohesion disappears. As the American people no longer share a common heritage, ethos and moral code, rabid identity politics displaces civil political discourse. Within a half-century a Judeo-Christian nation has morphed into a hyper-contentious multicultural miasma. Polarization doesn’t begin to describe it.
We need to face the facts. American society is changing. “Woke” culture is running rampant and brooks no dissent. Traditionalists, desiring to “get along,” often seek to appease the very forces out to destroy their traditional values. That is a morally bankrupt approach. If your very way of life is worth fighting for, knuckling under in the name of civility only makes matters worse. Better stand up and be counted – while you still can.
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