September 28, 2010
The Census Bureau hired a lot of temporary workers this year. The decennial census is commanded by the Constitution and has taken place every tenth year, even during times of depression and war. It is vitally important to have an accurate count of the American people. One of the first purposes of the census is that representation in Congress can be properly apportioned. Ever since 1911, the U.S. House of Representatives has been fixed at 435 members. That means every ten years, there will be some states that gain and some states that lose seats in Congress.
Its good to see that not all the census workers stood around counting each other. Well hope for an accurate count. Preliminary estimates tell us that following the next state reapportionment, New York will lose two seats in Congress, while Florida is expected to pick up two. Texas could be the big winner, with a net gain of four seats. Ohio may lose two seats.
This will be the continuation of a pattern unbroken since the founding of the country. The population of the United States has been moving south and west for two hundred years.
From the beginning, politicians have been alert to these changes. Timothy Pickering was a High Federalist who served as John Adams Secretary of State. Pickering of Massachusetts was alarmed by President Jeffersons Louisiana Purchase. He could read the future of the country in the westward expansion on the map. He feared Jefferson would carve out innumerable new states from the Louisiana Territory, which more than doubled the size of the country. Pickering began to agitate for secession from a Jeffersonian Union. Fortunately for Americans, Honest John Adams, his son, John Quincy, and even Jeffersons foe, Alexander Hamilton, approved of Jeffersons building an empire for Liberty.
The 1850 census shocked the Southern planter aristocracy. They saw immigrants flooding into the Northern states, yes, but many of those immigrantsespecially Germans and Scandinavians—also fanned out across the upper Midwest. Others, especially the Irish, took the places left by the Yankees of New England and New York who were themselves the first to settle the Midwest and the Oregon country.
Political power in the U.S. House of Representatives shifted markedly to the free states. Slaveholders began to listen to fire eaters who urged them to break away from a Union dominated by the North and Midwest, a majority of whose people were growing more impatient to put slavery on the path to ultimate extinction.
I view the report of the 2010 census with a wistful feeling. I grew up in New York State when we were truly the Empire State. We had the largest population and therefore we had the biggest prize in Electoral Votes45. New York really had clout.
From 1810 until 1970, New York held that No. 1 position. New York was always liberal. That was almost a given. But we held to certain principlesamong them the right to life.
In fact, most state laws protecting unborn life were modeled on our New York State law.
It didnt seem like an illiberal position during the period of New Yorks ascendancy.
New York valued its ethnic and religious diversity. Therefore, we protected the lives of allespecially those unborn children of minorities who might be especially in danger if the law failed to protect them at their most vulnerable time.
All of that changed in the 1960s as abortion agitation vied with anti-Vietnam War activism to claim the mantle of liberalism in my state. In 1970, New York State passedvery narrowlyone of the first liberalized abortion laws in the country. Abortion-on-demand was approved, but only by a single vote in the State Assembly. It was quickly signed into law by Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, a liberal Republican. The next year, New Yorks legislature recoiled from what it had done. It passed a repealer. But Gov. Rockefeller blocked it with his veto. Even then, however, New Yorkers were stunned by the radical nature of their state law. And New Yorks law allowed abortion for any reason only up to six months.
The very liberal Mayor of New York City, John Vliet Lindsay, began his career as a Republican congressman from the so-called Silk Stocking district in Manhattan.
Once, when a measure came up on Congress to crack down on pornography and prostitution, Lindsay voted no. He joked that those were important industries in his district. The New York Times thought him very witty and urbane. The straphangers who had to ride in the citys graffiti-marred and trash-strewn subways were less amused. Lindsay became the living symbol of limousine liberalism. The New Yorker magazine published a cartoon showing King Kong tearing up the elevated railroad. Two gray-suited businessmen looked on in dismay: That does it, Im voting for Procaccino, one of them says. Its how the ever liberal sophisticates poked fun at New Yorkers who resisted Mayor Lindsays charms.
Soon, Lindsay jumped parties and ran for President. In 1972, his campaign sputtered and flamed out among the Democrats. Tall, telegenic, charismatic, witty and articulate, how could he have failed?
He was run out of Florida by exiled New Yorkers. I vividly remember refugees from my home state pursuing John Lindsay through the orange groves and yelling at him: Ya rooined the city, ya bum. Now, youre tryin to rooin Flah-rida. Get outta here!
Lindsay never recovered. He finished out his disastrous second term as Mayor and faded away. Of course, Lindsay was an all-out supporter of abortion-on-demand. So was Rockefeller. His White House ambitions stopped just short. Jerry Ford named him, disastrously, as his Vice President in 1974. Within just two years, Ford had to dump Rocky unceremoniously in a vain attempt to bring conservatives back into his Republican camp.
Its hard now to recall how powerful, how dominant these two liberal giants were in New York in those days. I cannot help thinking that if we had had a pro-life champion in our state, perhaps we would not have hemorrhaged political power as quickly. Floridas leaders have been more protective of human life, so I can only rejoice in the Sunshine States two-seat pickup. If New York, tragically, continues to send pro-abortion congressmen to Washington, at least it will send fewer of them.