Republicans to Bachmann: End census boycott

Michelle Bachmann's position on the census is too crazy even for some conservative Republicans in the U.S. House

By Vincent Rossmeier
July 2, 2009 7:45PM (UTC)
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It seems even her fellow Republican members of Congress have given up trying to understand Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, much less her incoherent opposition to the U.S. Census. Bachmann has refused to fill out her census form based on her conspiracy theories about President Obama and her fears about the community development organization ACORN, and has even linked the collection of census data to the internment of Japanese civilians in the U.S. during World War II in an attempt to suggest that the same thing could happen.

But while Bachmann's views might not be too crazy for Glenn Beck, three of her Republican colleagues have clearly had enough. In a somewhat unusual step for the GOP, Wednesday, Reps. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., and John Mica, R-Fla., issued a highly condemnatory statement about Bachmann's position on the census. They argue that by not filling out the form, Bachmann and those who agree with her views on the census increase the risk that the government will use the data for partisan political purposes. The three wrote:


We share Ms. Bachmann’s concerns about ACORN’s involvement in the 2010 Census and will continue pressuring the Bureau to follow their own guidelines for partnering organizations and dump ACORN. However, we can not emphasize enough how important it is for every individual to fill out their census forms.

Every elected representative in this country should feel a responsibility to encourage full participation in the census. To do otherwise is to advocate for a smaller share of federal funding for our constituents. Boycotting the constitutionally-mandated census is illogical, illegal and not in the best interest of our country.

The unfortunate irony is that Ms. Bachmann’s boycott only increases the likelihood that ACORN-recruited census takers will be dispatched to her constituents’ homes. Anyone who completes and returns their census form will remove any need for a census taker to visit their residence.

Furthermore, a boycott opens the door for partisans to statistically adjust census results. The partisan manipulation of census data would irreparably transform the census from being the baseline of our entire statistical system into a tool used to wield political power in Washington.

As Steve Benen points out, Bachmann also continues to make an argument against the census that simply isn't true. Speaking recently to Fox News' Sean Hannity, Bachmann repeated one of her favorite complaints about the the American Community Survey part of the census, asking:  "Sean, you know the one question they don’t ask? They don’t ask, 'are you an American citizen?'" She then asked people to go to her website to look at the census form themselves and see the glaring omission.

Except, if you do go to her website and read the American Community Survey to which she was referring, you'll find that question number 8 reads: "Is this person a CITIZEN of the United States?"

Vincent Rossmeier

Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon.

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