Population milestone not a call for partisan politics

It’s taken nearly 40 years, but America has added 100 million people to its population. Who cares about passing this momentous milestone? Not the U.S. government or the Census Bureau, apparently, if the lack of fanfare is any indication.

No official events to celebrate the milestone are scheduled, according to an Associated Press story. For a country that likes to parade its achievements, treating this milestone like just another day does not seem fitting.

“The Census Bureau will not make an effort to identify the 300 millionth person,” spokesman Robert Bernstein said in a Reuters story. For his part, President Bush also kept the event low key, issuing a statement that said reaching a population of 300 million is “further proof that the American dream remains as bright and hopeful as ever.”

In 1967, when the 200 millionth American was born, President Lyndon Johnson at least held a news conference. Photo-driven Life magazine even sent several photographers on a quest to find the 200 millionth American.

The reasons for the absence of pomp and circumstance may be political. Since mid-term elections are nearing across the nation and illegal immigration – one of the forces driving the population, along with birth and death rates – is a hotly debated topic right now, the government may be choosing to downplay the 300 millionth American mark, William Frey, a demographer at the Washington thinktank Brookings Institution, said to the Associated Press.

But for a day – just a day – you would think that all political leanings could be put aside and this growth could be celebrated.

Like it or not, illegal immigration is a significant factor in America’s growth. Surely many nations in Europe, such as Spain and Italy, are wishing to have a problem like America’s, with an average of one new American added to the population every 11 seconds through birth, death and immigration, according to the Census Bureau.

Some may also think growth should not be celebrated because America has limited resources and therefore cannot support the population it already has. Yet America’s growth rate is less than 1 percent, or 2.8 million a year, according to the AP – not that staggering of a figure in the grand scheme of things. After all, wouldn’t America rather be gaining people than losing them?

Advice to the government:

Carpe diem. Seize this moment and celebrate growth; worry about politics later.