Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Republican Numbers Games

Talk about connecting the dots. Two recent news topics, when combined, help paint a vivid picture of the unprincipled way the Republican party is continuing its effort to build an election-proof political machine.

First, consider this story via Digby about how conservatives (abetted by members of the not-so-liberal media like Lou Dobbs) are pushing to eliminate non-citizens (such as recent immigrants) from the census. Hmmm . . . which states, which counties, and which political party do you suppose will lose Congressional seats if that happens?

Then compare this to a trend that, on the surface, runs in the opposite direction but actually helps produce the same political outcome, as described here: the growing Congressional clout given to some regions (mainly rural and southern) because prisoners incarcerated there are counted by the Census as part of the local population. Of course, most prisoners are not allowed to vote. But their numbers still help to boost the clout of the state in which they're held. With over two million prison inmates in the US today, the impact is significant.

Now, obviously, if the conservatives were genuinely concerned about underlying principles related to citizenship or democracy, they would want to be consistent about these two trends, and they'd be insistent about treating both non-citizens and prisoners alike for purposes of apportionment. In fact, they want to treat them in opposite ways that produce the same electoral outcome.

I guess it's okay or at least understandable if the Republicans want to fight ruthlessly for every scrap of political advantage. But please spare us the posturing about defending "American ideals" or "democratic values" when engaging in yet another pure and simple power grab.

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