Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Pernicious Evil

Digby posted this a couple of days ago. The post covered lots of ground, but the central theme is that Republicans are willing to do anything to remain in power. If the Constitution gets in the way, ignore it. Digby finds this Republican propos to limit congressional representation to "citizens only" to be particularly odious.

"A Republican lawmaker on Tuesday proposed changing the U.S. Constitution to exclude non-citizens from the Census for the purpose of drawing congressional districts, a move that effectively would deny them a voice in U.S. politics.

Under the present system, as determined by the 14th amendment to the Constitution, the Census Bureau counts all individuals living in the country once every 10 years. This data is used when drawing up the 435 congressional districts and when determining each state's vote in the Electoral College that decides presidential elections."

Michigan Rep. Candice Miller wants to change that so that both legal and illegal aliens would be excluded."

I presume Representative Miller has no problem with non-citizens paying taxes and being subject to the laws of the United States. Apparently, the Republican problem with non-citizens being counted in the census and congressional districts being drawn up to represent all the "persons" (the word the Constitution uses) in that district is somehow un-American. Digby sees the unseen hand here.

"This is another one of those Karl Rove specials. It's ostensibly about the scourge of illegal immigration, and plays perfectly into people's cultural anxieties, but it's really about structural political change.

Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson's exceedingly interesting book Off Center talks (among other things) about how the Republicans have gone about creating a "backlash proof" system in which Republican seats are safe no matter how unpopular their beliefs or voting records are in the country at large. It's a huge part of their long term strategy to change the political system in their favor. The book doesn't mention this specifically, but it's exactly the kind of thing that Karl and Tom would try to push to assure a long term majority."

Republicans would benefit from this change, which would result in a new round of redistricting. Immigrant ladened states such California would loose congressional seats and Electoral College clout. The Census Bureau would become a law enforcement agency and millions of residents of the United States would have neither public voice nor representation.

"Miller's proposal ran into fierce resistance from Democrats and Hispanic leaders as well as from a former head of the Census Bureau who said it would politicize the count, diminish public confidence in the census and make it more inaccurate.

"The Census Bureau cannot become a quasi-investigatory agency and still perform its basic responsibilities as a statistical agency," said Kenneth Prewitt who headed the agency from 1998 to 2000 and oversaw the last national census.

"Lawful members of our society who pay income, property and sales taxes as well as for your and my Social Security, will ask why they are being denied the earliest and most basic right of our democracy -- political representation," Prewitt said."

In other words, Representative Miller is proposing "taxation without representation." Where have I heard that before?

The founders of our republic faltered when they were forced to compromise between the principles they espoused in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution itself and the compromise required to ratify the Constitution and form the United States. They silently assented to slavery, but they recognized that slaves had a value to society and instituted the 3/5 rule, presuming a slave to be equivalent of 3/5 of a "free person" when counted in the national census.

It is hard to imagine that Republicans want to reduce the value of immigrants and other non-citizens to something less than the founding fathers were willing to grant to slaves.

Actually, it is not that hard to imagine. After all, once immigrants are excluded, can gays (and gypsies) be far behind, followed by non-Christians (Jews, Moslems, Buddhists), then the stinking liberals. It's a proven plan.