by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
“Are you an American or not?”
It’s a simple question, one that every U.S. census should include, especially when the survey already contains nonsensical and intrusive inquiries into one’s ethnic DNA composition and whether one co-habits with someone of the opposite sex or one’s own.
Whether you are a citizen or not is a valid question in a civic-minded constitutional democracy. Whether your parents are ethnic Chinese born in Peru or you are a nonpracticing heterosexual, not so much.
And yet, the inclusion of a citizenship question and other changes rightly being made by the Trump administration to the 2020 census caused a lamentably predictable furor on Thursday, at the first day of the spring 2018 meeting of the Census Bureau’s National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic, and Other Populations.
If anything, it was a case study in how the relationship between the bureau and its outside advisers has become dysfunctional.
From the start, nearly all the advisory committee’s members bitterly protested the changes, while bureaucrats implored them not to let their frustration prevent them from sending “community organizers” to help publicize the enumeration in two years’ time.
Both sides are wrong. The vast majority of the committee members hail from leftist ethnic special-interest groups or from equally leftist faculty lounges. They don’t have a leg to stand on regarding the changes being sought by an administration elected by the American people.
The bureau, meanwhile, should not be seeking the help of “community organizers”—of all people—on something that should be bipartisan and so elementary to our democracy.