By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog.
Get a good laugh out of the lead paragraph in an article in today's Washington Post:
House Democrats will unveil a measure today that would separate the U.S. Census Bureau from the Commerce Department and make it an independent government agency similar in design to the National Institutes of Health or NASA.
Depoliticize the Census? Surely they jest! Taking politics out of the Census is like taking milk out of the cow or coal out of Newcastle or diamonds out of Tiffany. Politics is the lifeblood of the Census--without politics, there is no Census.
The Census is part of the spoils of victory for whichever party controls the White House at the turn of each decade. Gerrymandering--using Census data to create voting districts that artificially lean toward one end of the political spectrum or the other--is as uniquely an American tradition as Thanksgiving. The thought of trying to depoliticize the census is, well, decidedly un-American.
Every political interest group wants a piece of Census action. Hispanics and Latinos want to make sure immigrants aren't under-counted. Religious groups want to make sure their members aren't under-counted. I've even heard feminist leaders talking, since the November elections, about using the Census to gender-mander: to create voting districts with large percentages of poor, single and widowed women, who tend to skew Democratic.
So gerrymander away with the 2010 Census and spare us the theatrics of trying to look nonpartisan.
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By Bonnie Erbe