I’m starting to see the America that Donald Trump seeks with more clarity. His America is one that looks at the U.S. Constitution as a silly piece of parchment which white men who wore powdered wigs cobbled together.
They didn’t envision a country where one person lorded over the land like a king or, worse still, an egotistical tyrant. The founding fathers sprinkled the power among three branches, each with the ability to rein in the other.
Yet that’s not the United States the man in the White House these days wants. Trump prefers what Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un have: power that goes unquestioned.
A Constitution – what does that mean?
Trump ignores it when it ill-suits his purpose.
He illustrated that when he ordered the Commerce Department not to include undocumented immigrants in its census count. His trampling of constitutional rights here wasn’t his first with the decennary count of the population.
Trump tried to force Commerce to include information about citizenship on the census form. He argued that such information would allow for better enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, which he’s tried to weaken whenever possible.
The U.S. Supreme Court stopped him once, although its 5-4 ruling in Commerce v. New York looks as if it has proved no deterrent to a politician obsessed with grabbing more and more power. For Trump had other moves to tamp down the number of voters over the long term.
He’s trying to do an end run on the Constitution itself, which demands a census every 10 years. The wording in the document, Article 1, Section 2, is clear: “counting the whole number of persons in each State.”
I’m no lawyer, and I don’t play one on TV either. But I do think I understand what “counting the whole number of persons” means. A synonym comes to mind, and the word is “everybody.”
Republicans don’t want to count “everybody” – unless the everybody lives in states with little diversity. Yeah, OK, count everybody. But in states that are tipping from white to colored, well, let’s not include undocumented immigrants, who, surprisingly, tend to be colored.
A hold on political power might rest with how Trump’s executive order plays out. In America, the power resides in the hands of whites, not the colored peoples.
Trump is bent on keeping it there. His order read in part:
“Although the Constitution requires the “persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed,” to be enumerated in the census, that requirement has never been understood to include in the apportionment base every individual physically present within a State’s boundaries at the time of the census.”
What Trump is doing, as vice presidential hopeful Stacey Abrams, a Yale-educated lawyer, put it in a CNN commentary, is to discount Black, brown, indigenous and immigrant peoples, whose numbers will put, by mid-century white, a majority in peril.
As it had to do in the Commerce case, the court will decide whether Jefferson et. al meant “everybody” or the right “whole persons,” which is Trump’s view of their intent.
I hope even the most myopic justices on the court of last resort can see what a ruse this is. It’s not for any good reason Trump is trying this, but if the Roberts court cannot see this, what good is it?