As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Your Modern GOP: Endangering People Daily

I guess Michael Steele sent out an RNC fundraising letter accusing ACORN of conspiring to rig the Census. They forgot Americans for Democratic Action, NBC News, the Teamsters and most of the cast of the Broadway production of "Rent". It's a division of labor.

But I have to agree with this letter about the implications of demonizing the Census, an activity resulting in people coming to your home to count the population.

Michael Steele is playing a dangerous game with that fund-raising letter, and people are going to die because of it.

Nine years ago, my wife worked for the Census, knocking on people's doors and gathering information. There's no way she'll do it again next year. Steele is making it too dangerous.

Census takers put themselves in vulnerable positions. They don't know who or what is on the other side of the door. The door might be opened by a sexual predator, or someone who's not in control of a vicious dog. Or the door could be opened by someone with a gun in one hand and Steele's letter in the other, seething with hatred for liberals and ACORN.

I was a teenager in Southeast Pennsylvania in 1990, and Census enumeration (following up at homes that had no form returned) paid relatively well, wasn't too taxing and got me a sticker for my car that said "Official Government Business" that allowed me to park wherever I wanted. And one day, I walked to a house on my list, went around the back to knock on the fence to see if I could find anyone in the residence, and a man with a rifle yelled "Get off my property" and pointed the barrel in my direction. Somehow I got him to give up the number of people living in the house and I took off.

One letter politicizing the Census won't cause an "kill your enumerator" uprising of anti-government cranks. In fact, if conservatives want to sit out the Census and depress their own apportionment numbers, more power to them. But I don't think we can ignore the steady drumbeat of demonization of normal government functions, hard-wired into the modern conservative movement, and where that anger can export itself. In fact, it has to go somewhere.

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