Citizenship Question on 2020 Census – Supremes Decide

Right now the Supreme Court is considering whether to allow a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, so it may be a bit late to express my deep concerns about the use of such a question during the tenure of this particular administration. Citizenship questions have appeared in the Census before, but not since 1960. Given the rabid attitudes about immigration expressed by Trump and backed up by his people (including the Republican Party) this is an especially fraught time to allow this question on this decade’s census. Undocumented people are basically being hunted down for deportation.

Accurate Count

In a climate like this how can we expect an accurate count of the people living in America right now. Census information becomes part of our nation’s permanent record offering up useful data to citizens simply seeking to know about their ancestors. Often people want to know their family’s history so they can improve their understanding of potential health challenges. Bad records offer bad data. If citizens have family members living with them who are undocumented, which is quite a common thing, they may avoid the census to protect relatives and friends from deportation.

Implications for Voting Rights

Trump has long sought lists of all US voters. I do not think he has the purest of reasons for wanting this information. He believes that suppressing voters who might lean left is a perfectly viable election strategy and he can’t even process the loud cries of “foul”. For any Fox News viewers who might stumble into this article by accident, suppressing votes is not OK for any reason in our democracy/republic.

However, ever since the Voter Rights Act turned 50 and the Supreme Court allowed the preclearance section of the law to be vacated, the Republicans and Trump have weaponized election tools to suppress Dem votes. Trump was not around when districts were so drastically gerrymandered that there are whole districts which will always vote Republican. The new Census can be used to readjust boundaries of voting districts once again. Trump plans to still be in power to help the GOP plunder the vote even more effectively than they did after the last census. Democrats, including Obama, are fighting some boundaries where there was clearly almost house-by-house gerrymandering but it is a long slog through the courts.

In districts that leaned to the left Republicans could play with things like cutting back on voting days, taking away polling places, trying to stop churches from taking people on buses directly to polling places to vote, choosing polling places that were not on stops of public transportation leaving voters off with some distance to walk to get to their polling place. Republicans could conduct purges of voter rolls, removing people who had not voted in a while. Obviously sometimes it is necessary to purge people from voter rolls who have moved or are deceased, but you don’t usually lose your voting rights because you decide not to vote. In North Carolina one Republican candidate had his people go house-to-house collecting absentee ballots and offering to fill them in for the voter. His illegal ‘strategy’ was uncovered and he lost his election bid, but the things that Republicans try to suppress the vote are not just shenanigans, they are serious breaches of the laws of the US, and winking while people attempt to get away with them is damaging to the validity of our elections, already under attack by Russia and China.

So it’s easy to imagine that one reason Republicans favor a citizenship question on the census goes something like this, “most immigrants tend to vote for Democrats, by discouraging an accurate count of immigrants we can hurt the Democrat votes, all is fair in love and elections (except that is not true) and if we do this we the GOP can win in 2020.”

More Nefarious Purposes?

There is another problem with putting a citizenship question on the 2020 Census and the problem is that it is possibly motivated by fascism, not any democratic impulse. That list that Trump wanted of all voters was not forthcoming because it is un-American and invades our freedom. Now he is salivating at the thought of a list of all of the undocumented immigrants in America and not because they are voters. The GOP and Trump like to keep whispering (loudly) in our ears that undocumented people are voting illegally and I suppose a few who have fraudulent ID’s could go vote, but I doubt if the numbers are large as such people tend to hide, to not call attention to themselves by signing public registers, which voters are required to do. He also does this in case he needs to “prove” that an election is rigged, something he seems to worry about a lot, because he needs to win.

But the other reason Trump is gleefully anticipating a positive ruling by the Supremes is because then he would have a sort of ‘gestapo’ list of names and addresses of undocumented people living in America. I’m not sure why he thinks that people in hiding from an aggressive I.C.E. will answer the census accurately, but he wants to try, even at the risk of getting inaccurate census data that will misguide many national decisions over the next ten years. I hope the Supreme Court has not moved this far to the right and will give us a sensible ruling appropriate to these times when white supremacy is being used to whip up divisions in America.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Democracy Now!

 

 

Why We Can’t Elect Donald Trump (or any of the Bully Boys)

Donald J
Trump could become the leader of America, but if he is elected and if he does
the things he says he will do, America will be a substantially different nation
than it has always been. We can kiss our forefathers good-bye, and the high
ideals they wished us to strive for as a nation. By the time we build that
wall, send all undocumented immigrants back to their countries of origin, build
up a huge military presence and bully China, I’m not sure what America will be
left with, but I think we will finally understand the word Fascism.
Older
Americans shudder at the thought of a Socialist taking over our Democracy but
tend to have little or no reaction when someone exhibiting signs of Fascism
(Donald Trump) begins to climb in the election polls. Fascism is far more at
odds with Democracy than Socialism is but we just don’t have enough
understanding of what the term means for it to call forth the intensely
negative visceral reaction that it should. I have written warnings about this
twice before, but this time I have help from a very famous writer, Umberto Eco.
Writing from
Paris, Christopher Dickey begins his article in the Daily Beast with this statement, “Here in Europe, people
know a thing or two about fascism.” He is remembering an article he read twenty years ago by the deeply
philosophical Italian author Umberto Eco, who died last week.

No, here in Europe, by various names—as Fascism, Nazism, Stalinism—it was
the living, vibrant, vicious force that led directly to the most horrific
global war in history. More recently, it took root and lingered as an active
ideology in Latin America, providing a crude foundation for the repressive
revolutions and dirty wars that raged from the ’60s through the ’80s.

Indeed, the fundamentals of fascism are with us today, in the killing fields
of ISIS-land, in the madness of North Korea, and also, sadly, in battered
democracies from newly militaristic Japan to xenophobic, isolationist parties
in Europe. And, yes, in somewhat more subtle forms fascism can be found on the
campaign trail in the U.S. of A.

Umberto Eco, in his article
(title not given) gives a list of the attributes of a Fascist:

Makes a cult of tradition

Rejects modernism

Takes action for action’s sake   (“thinking is a form of emasculation”)

Distrust of the intellectual
world

Disagreement is treason

Racist by definition   (“seeks for consensus by exploiting and
exacerbating the natural fear of difference”)

The appeal to a frustrated middle
class   (“a class suffering from an
economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the
pressure of lower social groups”)

Obsession with a plot

Followers must feel humiliated   (“by the ostentatious wealth and force of
their enemies”)

Popular
elitism   (“Every citizen belongs to the
best people of the world, the members of the party are among the best citizens,
every citizen can or ought to become a member of the party.”) (“[T]he leader
knows that his force is based upon the weakness of the masses; they are so weak
as to need and deserve a ruler”)
Life is
permanent warfare   (“pacifism is
trafficking with the enemy”)
Official
heroism   (“martyrdom”)
Machismo   (“implies both disdain for women and
intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to
homosexuality”)
Selective
populism   (“citizens do not act, they are
only called on to play the role of the People”)
“Newspeak”   (from 1984, George Orwell)   (“All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made
use of an impoverished vocabulary and an elementary syntax, in order to limit
the instruments for complex and critical reasoning.”)
Umberto Eco
sounds like he is speaking about the Republican Party candidates and members of
Congress, and especially of Donald Trump, as we know them right now, but he wrote this 20 years ago.
Here’s the
link:
I think that
all of the Republican candidates are unelectable and everyone is feeling this
even if they will not admit it. I am guessing that people are thinking that
Donald Trump is the least dogmatic. He is not toeing the party line. He is his
own man. And for some reason people cannot see the dangers in turning over our
governance to this man. They want the 50’s back and Donald promises the 50’s.
But they will return under his terms. He humiliates anyone who questions his
leadership and people back down, even scary people like Ted Cruz. If we give
him carte blanche to “make America great again”, it will be his vision of
America, not ours and he may have a hard time ever leaving office. He may make
himself President-for-life. We cannot control this man. He brooks no
disagreement. In the scary GOP line-up of future Presidents perhaps the man who
seems most benign is the biggest nightmare of all, but we may not know it until
it is too late.
At the end
of his article Dickey draws parallels between Europe then and America now.

But where does Eco’s Eternal Fascism fit in American politics? Can it be
that many of the figures parading before us in this presidential campaign year
appeal to the worst instincts of “the People”? Do they play on atavistic fears
and resentments, frustrations and humiliations? Are they marked by their
irrationalism and anti-intellectualism, their hatred of things foreign, their
desire to be seen as heroes and their gun-toting machismo?

Oh, hell yeah. But I don’t need to point the finger. Umberto Eco is doing it
from the grave. As he wrote more than 20 year ago:

“Franklin Roosevelt’s words of November 4, 1938, are worth recalling: ‘If
American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and
night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, fascism will grow in
strength in our land.’

“Freedom and liberation,” Eco wrote, “are an unending task.”

How do we
get angry Americans who think any of these guys are the answer to “setting
America on the right path” to understand that they will do just the opposite?
How do we get Donald Trump to leave the Republican race now that all of the
non-scary candidates have been chased away? Getting rid of Donald is not
enough. We must elect a Democrat in 2016 or American Democracy will not
survive. I have no idea how we convince what I call “the pod people”,
brainwashed by right wing media, that they must vote against the positions they
have been taught to believe in.
By Nancy
Brisson

A Plague on Both Your Houses?

People, and this includes some of my liberal
friends, are always saying that the dysfunction in Washington right now can be
laid at the feet of both parties. They believe that Democrats and Republicans
are equally to blame for the partisanship and obstruction, for the enormous gap
between the wealthy and the rest of us. And, of course, they are right, or in a
way they are right. Money is far too important in Washington. It talks louder
than we the people who can’t afford to make our voices heard because we cannot
amass enough money to turn up the volume. We do need to deal with the outsized
influences of special interests with lots of bucks, of Wall Street and the
banks, and of big business.
However the Republicans have introduced another
whole level of political drama that we must deal with first. Republicans have
gone off the rails, off the deep end, delusional, and are aggressively pursuing
reactionary policies that will hardly take America into a prosperous future.
Democrats have been slow to counter the outrageous activities of the
Republicans. Democrats have been shy, hanging back. They want to pretend that
regular order still pertains in Washington. They are stodgy, self-conscious and
do not want to match the operatic tone of the GOP (or the Biblical Old
Testament tone either). That may be all to the good. Watching the full opera
treatment play out in Washington might be too much for everyone.
However, we the people need to understand that, although
our elected Congressmen in both parties are too involved with amassing personal
wealth and a power base that will give them staying power and clout, the
impasse we are presently in cannot be attributed equally to both parties. Both
parties are not trying to rewrite the Constitution. Both parties are not trying
to make it more difficult to vote. Both parties are not trying to overturn 50
year old court rulings that offered new hope to many beleaguered women. Both
parties are not trying to privatize everything. And both parties are not trying
to bring back a brand of Federalism that lost the debate the first time it was
hotly contested in the 1780’s.
My point is that before we can deal with the greedy
we need to deal with the nutty. This is what us lefties are trying to say to
our families and our neighbors who support the GOP no matter how insane their
actions.
There is a word that describes the things some
Republicans have been saying and that word is fascism. I did not want to be the
first person to use this politically and emotionally charged word in relation
to the Republican candidates for the Presidency of our nation but last night on
TV someone (sorry I don’t remember who) brought up this term which has not
really been used much since Mussolini rose to power in Italy. Go over the
definition carefully and see if it does or does not fit current circumstances.
This definition was offered by Google
.
noun: fascism; noun: Fascism;
plural noun: Fascisms
  1. an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of
    government and social organization.
synonyms:
authoritarianism, totalitarianism,
dictatorship,
despotism,
autocracy;
More
Nazism, rightism;
neofascism, neo-Nazism
“a film depicting the rise of
fascism in the 1930s”
o   
(in general use) extreme right-wing,
authoritarian, or intolerant views or practice.
Origin
from Italian fascismo, from fascio
‘bundle, political group,’ from Latin fascis (see fasces).
Translate fascism to
Use over time for: fascism
So when we have people like Donald Trump saying that
he will register all Muslims and keep certain mosques under surveillance and he
will send any Syrian refugees that come to America straight back to Syria he is
pandering to the xenophobia in us in order to get us to elect him. And his
actions are fascist.
We also have the Republican candidates who would
like to turn America into an Evangelical Christian theocracy. So when we hear
Ted Cruz, this guy who supposedly channels our forefathers, say that we should
accept only Christians from Syria we should hear a crowd behind him loudly
whispering “fascist”, “fascist”, “fascist”, because what he is advocating is
certainly not the Democracy our founders designed. But we don’t hear any great
outcry. Our media bends over backwards to fairly represent the policies of both
political parties. And Americans just keep watching FOX News, which barely
qualifies as a news channel. (Stop watching FOX News!)
So let me say once again that in terms of setting
priorities we need to get rid of the nuts in Washington before we can tackle
the greed that is distorting our government. Both threaten our Democracy but
the extremists have only recently taken over the top spot on that priority list
(just since Obama took office). They seem able to say any old un-American thing
and still maintain their popularity. This is why we need to elect a Democratic
President in 2016. Sadly, the left may have entered the fray too late in the
game. There is no way in which I accept the claim some people repeat again and
again that both parties contribute equally to the recent dysfunction in
Washington.
By Nancy Brisson 
(graphic from time.com)