Greeson: Yes, the American census should try to count Americans

In this March 15, 2010, file photo, copies of the 2010 Census forms in Phoenix. The 2020 U.S. Census will add a question about citizenship status, a move that brought swift condemnation from Democrats who said it would intimidate immigrants and discourage them from participating. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

In the place of our muddled politics, why not embrace clarity?

That makes sense, right?

There are so many questions that divide America these days, why not develop a craving for some straight facts?

That's what President Trump had in mind by directing the U.S. Census Bureau to ask respondents to the 2020 Census if they are American citizens.

photo Jay Greeson

Simple question. Valuable answers.

In this time of unknowns, shouldn't we value a direct approach to find out if the people being counted during the U.S. Census are, you know, actual U.S. citizens?

The Trump administration - a group that a lot of folks would blame for everything from the Kennedy assassination to the sinking of the Titanic - has proposed this sensible tweak to the head count.

It makes perfect sense. In fact, for quite a few folks, it may make too much sense.

As many as 12 states are planning to sue Trump in retaliation, trying to block the additional question. Leaders in those states think it will cause fewer people to answer the census and in turn hurt their states in terms of population counts. It's worth noting that lower population counts mean lower federal funding in a slew of programs as well as electoral college influence.

So, is that angst of those dozen states about the extra question or the extra benefits for their states? In turn, we could all ask, what have any of those 12 states done to direct those non-Americans living in America to try to become citizens?

Forget the partisan talking points of Mexico paying for the wall or the "safe cities" mumbo-jumbo.

How, in a million years, does asking a simple question to those wanting to be counted during the U.S. Census translate to a bad thing?

Maura Healey, the Massachusetts attorney general, has a big issue with the president's directive.

"The census is supposed to count everyone," she told The New York Times. "This is a blatant and illegal attempt by the Trump administration to undermine that goal, which will result in an under-count of the population and threaten federal funding for our state and cities."

See, that last sentence is pretty important, don't you think?

The key part of the faux outrage is the states that have a lot to lose, and have done very little to encourage those here illegally to start the citizenship process, know what's at stake.

Simply put, the president's directive makes sense. It is the definition of the population of American citizens, which is the basis of the census.

That the Democrats view this as a political negative simply shows they have, for far too long, used folks who are not U.S. citizens as an asset in terms of funding, voting and districting.

The 2020 Census will still do everything possible to count everyone in this country.

Contact Jay Greeson at and 423-757-6343.