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Giving Compass' Take:
• Kenneth Prewitt discusses how the potential for gerrymandering in our extremely polarized political climate threatens the validity of the 2020 census.
• This year could set a new precedent for politically altered, non-cohesive censuses. How can you help prevent that from happening? Where can you start your giving route towards transparency in census-taking?
• Learn more about philanthropy and the US census.
Given its enormous challenge – count everyone once (no undercount), only once (no duplicates) and in the right place (no location errors) – the U.S. Census Bureau has an impressive operational track record. After all, census takers have decades of practice in quickly replacing Plan A problems with Plan B fixes.
This history could not have unfolded as it did without two critical features: the general good will of the public and the bipartisan commitment of the nation’s political leadership. Both are shaky today.
It is this, not operations, that should worry you.
The current census is the first in history "announced" via a widely covered, highly contentious U.S. Supreme Court ruling on a specific census question (citizenship status), which left a worrisome trail of anger and mistrust, especially in immigrant households.
Indeed, there is whispered concern that apportionment itself could be gerrymandered. A census turned into a political weapon erases widespread public good will and makes a mockery of the pledge of a shared, bipartisan commitment to citizen excellence.
A new threat lurks: a fearmongering and/or hate-infested social media campaign targeted on the census.
It is too early to assess how big the threat is and whether it will be easily derailed. But we do know it is being prepared in dark corners — messaging targeting frightened immigrant groups with, "You don’t belong in America, go back where you came from," or "Beware of the promise of census privacy," or "Put a protective mask on before opening your door to a stranger."
We are counting on smart cities to be smart about 2020 challenges — not just the familiar challenges, but also the newest ones.
Read the full article about how extreme polarity is threatening the validity of the 2020 census by Kenneth Prewitt at Smart Cities Dive.