Operation Tank the Census

By Joe Schembrie
web posted March 27, 2000

Does anyone think that, by refusing to fill out their census form, they're showing the Clinton Administration where to shove it? I've got an uneasy feeling that's exactly what the Clinton Administration is counting on.

Let's insinuate yet another conspiracy on the part of the Clinton Administration. We'll call it Operation Tank the Census. The Clintonista's goal is to encourage as many Republicans/conservatives as possible not to turn in their census forms -- for the sake of advancing the Democratic/liberal agenda.

Phase I of Operation Tank the Census is: Scandalize the Census.

The Clinton Administration originally tried to supplant the Constitutionally-mandated direct head count in the census with a 'statistical sampling' that would naturally become victim to political bias. They failed in that objective, but by attempting it, they have succeeded in creating an odor of illegitimacy around the census in the minds of many conservatives.

Onto Phase II of Operation Tank the Census: Foment Rebellion Against the Census.

How to provoke conservatives into rebelling against the census? By making it as annoying as possible.

First they run non-stop commercials on TV and radio which tell people that the census will help them receive government goodies. Can anything be more annoying to the limited-government conservative?

Well, how about creating an irritating, intrusive census form that asks racial and other sensitive questions which invade privacy and hint at some kind of set-up for more governmental social engineering in the future?

And to compound public resentment, let's threaten people with a hundred dollar fine in the event that they refuse to fill out and return the census. As we all know from long experience with children (if not adults), telling someone they must absolutely NOT do something is the best way to make them want to do it!

And so we come to Phase III of Operation Tank the Census: Strategically Withdraw.

History tells of many military battles have been won by strategic withdrawal, in which one side, sensing victory, eagerly charges after supposedly-routed opposition forces -- only to be led into a trap and then be defeated crushingly.

The Clinton Administration has worked long and hard to cultivate resentment toward the census among conservatives. Thus there is now public outrage over the census, and millions of conservative Americans are threatening to leave the more intrusive questions unanswered -- fine or no fine. And so the Census Bureau has announced, after all this, that it will not fine people for refusing to answer questions on their census forms.

Hey, a victory, right? They backed down, right? Wait a second. Is this a rout -- or a trap?

Does this Census Bureau announcement mean that you won't get fined if you don't turn in the census form at all? Then surely the actions of outrage/threaten/retreat will incite millions of people -- most of them conservative -- to just round-file the Clinton Administration's obnoxious census form!

And maybe that's exactly what the Clintonians wanted all along.

When state legislatures apportion Congressional districts, they rely on census data. If millions of conservatives have been incited to boycott the census, however, they obviously won't show up on the census, and they're likely to find themselves underrepresented when it comes to Congressional delegations. The Democrats would enjoy an unfair, undemocratic advantage of several new seats in the House of Representatives. It would be disastrous for the Republican Party and the conservative movement.

Now, every knowledgeable Republican/conservative is aware that the census is a constitutional requirement, and vital to the integrity of the American political process. No major figure in the conservative movement that I know of has been calling for us to throw away the census form in its entirety.

But we all know that there are certain emotional people, at the fringes of political consciousness, who might be inclined to trash an intrusive census form, especially when the fine for doing so is zero. After all those taxpayer-subsidized commercials linking the census to the federal pork barrel, some less-informed conservatives might even think of it as their patriotic duty to boycott the census and stand up to the Clinton Administration.

Of course, in reality, they'd actually be bending over for it.

Maybe it only looks like the Clinton Administration is plotting to subvert the census this way. And even if they are, isn't it doubtful that they'd have any success with such a ploy? After all, reverse psychology only works on small children, right?

Boy, I sure hope so. And -- send in that form!

Joe Schembrie is a senior writer for Enter Stage Right.

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