Tom Nichols had it exactly right in so many ways in his Jan. 21 Outlook essay, "Damage assessment," even for this D(d)emocrat. He was right that without viable political parties and competent leaders in our bureaucracy, and with a president who is more interested in himself than the country, our democracy will be in for terrible times in domestic policy, advocacy, military affairs and foreign policy.

However, missed in his analysis of what could go wrong and how long it will take to put the parts together again, post-President Trump, was the fact that the next decennial census will be undertaken by Mr. Trump's administration. It is already woefully underfunded, understaffed, underappreciated and behind schedule. But it will determine, in a major way, the future of our political parties, if not our democracy.

This constitutionally mandated function, the largest undertaking of government outside of war, is being systematically undermined by this administration.

It is imperative that positive, comprehensive action be taken immediately to assure a successful census in 2020.

Karl K. Kindel, Washington

The writer is retired from the Census Bureau.