Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Government 101

If you live in the U.S. you have to read this, especially if you are a minority!

They don’t teach you this in civics class.  Today is July 4th, a day we celebrate the independence of our nation.  In 1789 with the establishment of our government we all know of the three levels of government, legislative, judicial and executive, but few people actually understand how our government really works.  Hopefully this gives you a little insight to how government works and why they say all politics are local.  I’m going to try and keep this as simple as possible without getting too far in to the weeds.

Most people have no idea how ward boundaries, state and federal districts get decided and drawn.  It all starts with the census.  You know, those strangers who come around ever 8 to 10 years, knock on your door and want to know how many people live in your house, along with other statistics.  The census is one of the biggest government factors there is and quite frankly far too many people take it way to lightly.  A member of the census bureau comes to your door you ignore them, don’t answer the door or lie to them.  This is one of the biggest mistakes a community could make.  The census bureau is not there to get information on you to arrest you; they are there to gather information on demographics of a particular area.  At the national and state level census information is used to plan the provision of health care, education, employment, and transportation.  It is also used to help determine where to build new schools, roads, health care facilities, child care and senior centers.  The census is also used for federal and state fund allocations.  Another and very important function of the census is, it’s used to determine how many representatives, (Congressmen) a state will have.  It is this factor that has been overlook in the past that contributed to the government we have today, including the President we have, but that’s another article for another day.  For the purpose of this article, the census is used every 10 years to recalculate state, county, city and town populations.  Why is this? Other than for the purpose of funding, election districts are drawn based on population.  For example, if the census shows a state lost 710,000 people since the last census and another state gained 710,000 people since the last census, those states would lose or gain a Congressional seat respectfully.  The census is also VERY important on the state level.  In New York State for example, the census is used every 10 years to determine Assembly district lines as well as State Senate district lines.  Why is this so VERY IMPORTANT?  In many cases throughout our nation it is the State houses who draw the new Congressional, State Senate and State Assembly districts lines which will be in place for the 10 years to follow.  The effect of being in control of the state house at the time of drawing lines can easily be seen in many states all across the U.S.  Take New York for example, the Republicans were in Control of the Senate, they for the most part got to determine where boundary lines were going to be drawn.  An examination of New York’s boundary lines one would quickly see boundaries drawn to give the Republican Party an edge in winning a particular district during an election cycle.  The drawing of district lines is a science and a real expertise.  New district lines can be challenged in court if they appear to be gerrymandered: definition – manipulate the boundaries of an electoral district so as to favor one party or class.  Both parties are aware of the advantage of being able to draw district lines, but in my opinion the Republican Party has been better at it over the last 10 years and the effects are being felt all the way up to the white house.  The Republicans even came out and told Democrats their plan, called Red Map.  Either the national Democratic Party didn’t take the plan serious or they were arrogant enough to think it couldn’t happen, either way, it did, which is part of why we are where we are today.  Here’s a clue people, you heard it here!  People get all caught up in President Trump’s immigration rhetoric, yes, it’s terrible, yes, separating the kids from parents isn’t who we are, but the big picture is, the fear immigrants pose to the control of power.  When the census was created it was created to count PEOPLE for the apportionment of resources, but if you look at what the Justice Dept. is trying to do now, they are pushing the census bureau to ask if a person is a citizen or not in  the 2020 census count.  The justice dept. claims it needs this information to protect voter’s rights, but we know better.

The census is a big freaking deal! If you didn’t know it, now you do!  Running good candidates and voter turnout are all very important, but if we ignore the census it makes our job at that much harder for years and years to come.

I hope you read to the end this issue is much too big to ignore, we did it once and we are now paying the price for it, we can’t afford to do it again.

Part two of Government 101 coming soon

William Hughes Jr.