Thank you, Trump! We learn about the census

Did you know the census questionnaire could be re-written by the Commerce Department to threaten American residents?

I didn’t.

Now I do. And it’s all thanks to Trump being in the White House.

Trump in the White House is a powerful civics lesson. All that stuff we vaguely remember from whatever courses we took which made reference to our government are now springing up as experiential advanced courses in governance and democracy.

And this is very good. Because aren’t we all keeping lists of things we’ve learned about our laws that need to be fixed?

Here’s what the Constitution says about the census:

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed,* three fifths of all other Persons [slaves]. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.

“…the whole Number of free Persons…” We did get rid of slavery, remember? So the “whole Number of free Persons” counts everyone living in the U.S. during the period in which the census is taken. Says nothing about citizens, about people registered to vote, about people in prisons, about immigrants with or without green cards — including the foreign workers Trump hires for his resorts.

*And this, from the Census Bureau: “Beginning with the 1900 census, Indians are enumerated on reservations as well as in the general population.” So everybody is counted.

Another great civics lesson: immediately upon the announcement that Trump wants to alter the 2020 census to question whether someone is a U.S. citizen or not, a whole bunch of aggressive and protective state Attorneys General have announced they’ll sue the U.S. government because such a question would be unconstitutional. (See clause from Constitution, above, which doesn’t say anything about differentiating non-citizens from citizens.)

So, as Gandalf said when facing another monstrous opponent, “You cannot pass.” (He went on, “I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass.”)

“YOU CANNOT PASS!!!” is what we say to Wilbur Ross, who does look a bit like an unfriendly creature from Middle Earth.

So. Trump’s presence is an updated lesson on the Constitution, as well as a reason to pull out my Fellowship of the Ring. (I never would misquote Gandalf.)

It’s all to the good, isn’t it?





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