Conservatives must understand the role of 2020 census in government bloat

Conservatives must understand the role of 2020 census in government bloat
© Getty

“The Democrats and civil rights community will go nuts.”

That’s what a former Commerce Department official recently told Politico. He was describing the reaction sure to occur over any decision the Trump administration takes to improve the next census.

The intensity of the bickering that will break out may surprise Americans who consider this an arcane matter, but the fight will be over things that do matter.

ADVERTISEMENT
At stake, in fact, are billions of dollars in taxpayer money, electoral redistricting, and the very identity of the country. If you still think this is boring and wonky, you’re probably not a liberal. They get it. Conservatives often don’t.

 

This is what is already brewing: A liberal coalition of Democrats and the lobbying organizations that purport to speak for people the government deems to be members of “minority groups” will collude to raise a stink over any census changes the Trump administration makes.

The former Commerce official quoted above was referring specifically to reports that the Trump administration wants to nominate Thomas Brunell, a distinguished University of Texas professor, as deputy director of the Bureau, its highest operational post. 

Also likely to create more pre-fabricated angst will be whatever decision the administration makes over an Obama administration proposal to create yet another faux pan-ethnic group — MENA, for Middle East and North Africa — and essentially racialize an already existing faux pan-ethnic group, Hispanics.

As I have explained multiple times — herehere and here and elsewhere — the government needs to get out of the unsavory business of conjuring up new pan-ethnic groups intended to divide us as a people and which have no basis in science, culture, ethnicity or language.

Reports of Brunell’s possible nomination have already created an inside-the-Beltway kerfuffle—all stirred by liberals hiding behind the façade of supposedly non-partisan advocacy. Michael Watson of The Capital Research Center has done wonderful work unmasking the liberalism of the groups and personalities involved in this scaremongering.

What is Brunell accused of? In its very first sentence of the Politico story, we learn he has (gasp!) “no government experience.” That would be a plus for many people, but it’s in fact contradicted 20 paragraphs later when Politico admits that he “worked briefly on Capitol Hill as a fellow on a House subcommittee that oversees the census.”

Moreover, in that same paragraph we find out that Brunell received a Ph.D in political science from the University of California, Irvine. For the past 12 years, he has been researching redistricting and voting rights cases at the University of Texas, an area of research in which detailed, accurate census data is an essential part. Qualified, right?

Not if you’re a liberal. To their horror, Brunell “has testified more than half a dozen times on behalf of Republican efforts to redraw congressional districts, and is the author of a 2008 book titled "Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections Are Bad for America.”

Brunell’s book argued that partisan districts actually lead to better representation for both Republicans and Democrats. But to Terri Ann Lowenthal, a former co-director of The Census Project and member of Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaHolder: DOJ, FBI should reject Trump's requests The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — Frenzy over Kennedy retirement rumors | Trump challenges DOJ Asian American and Pacific Islander community will be critical to ensuring successful 2018 elections for Democrats MORE’s 2008 Presidential Transition Team, this is “an effort by the administration to politicize the census. It’s very troubling.”

As the Capital Research Center painstakingly points out, both the Census Project and Lowenthal, who is constantly quoted in the press on these matters, are very liberal and have influenced the conduct of the census for decades.

Lowenthal last August participated on “a nationwide press call with ethnic media” alongside leaders of other liberal groups to warn that the Trump administration was supposedly putting the 2020 census at risk.

Also taking part were Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund (and former Obama administration official); Arturo Vargas, executive director of National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, and John C. Yang, president and executive director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

And that is the story here. The founders established the Census so congressional districts could be drawn. As the bureau itself puts it:

The founders of our fledgling nation had a bold and ambitious plan to empower the people over their new government. The plan was to count every person living in the newly created United States of America, and to use that count to determine representation in the Congress.

The multi-cultural and racial-preference policies these groups have created over the past 30 years has changed the census from a government task intended to assist the maintenance of our multi-ethnic, democratic republic as E Pluribus Unum to a task intended to help leaders of self-appointed ethnic special-interest groups who draw their political power from dividing Americans, not uniting us.

As the Selous Foundation put it back in September, “These groups are well aware that each census decides how the government spends over $400 billion in federal and state grants much of it to groups like theirs.”

The liberal coalition that depends on this milk and honey should drop its pretense that its interests are non-political. More fights will come, not least over the nomination of the head of the census. And conservatives should know what this is all about and how important it is to the future of this country.

Mike Gonzalez (@Gundisalvus) is a senior fellow in the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy Studies at the nonprofit Heritage Foundation.