Very few things about contemporary American politics make sense anymore. In the Senate, a majority isn’t 51%, it’s 60%. The corporation, a legal construct, now has rights that could create an unprecedented, and undemocratic, impact on elections. But despite how dysfunctional and random it all seems, there are still some things you can count on. The Census is one of those things. According to Article I, Section 2 of the US Constitution, “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 10 years, in such manner as they shall by Law direct.” Roughly translated, that means that the United States is supposed to count heads every ten years. Simple, right?
Wrong. A funny thing keeps happening on the way the Census; it stops being a simple head count and becomes political football. For this Census, there are rumors about things that are either irrelevant or plain false. For example, the Census has been accused of being racist because it includes the term “Negro” as part of the classification for African-Americans. This semantic furor just isn’t important. It’s a fact that some members of the Black community self-identify with this term. A falsehood being spread is that the Census is a part of an anti-immigration plot against the Latino community. There are some who aren’t committed to a full and accurate count of ALL of the residents of America. But why?
Did you know how high the stakes are? Hundreds of billions of dollars, invaluable public services and resources, and the number of members of the House of Representatives all depend on the Census results. Although the consequences are significant, there are efforts to encourage completion of the Census. It’s only ten questions long and well-publicized. Do you want paved streets, trained cops, firefighters, teachers and hospitals, in case health care gets reformed? Above all, don’t you want a Congressperson to talk who should represent our community’s interest? If you don’t complete the Census, then Long Island stands to lose, and lose big. Wild horses couldn’t keep me from completing the Census. Count me in.