President Donald Trump has tapped anti-Democracy activist Thomas Brunell, the author of a 2008 book titled “Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections Are Bad for America,” to lead the U.S. census.
Many suspect that Trump is attempting to politicize the census for partisan gain.
The pick would break with the long-standing precedent of choosing a nonpolitical government official as deputy director of the U.S. Census Bureau. The job has typically been held by a career civil servant with a background in statistics. It does not require Senate confirmation, so Congress would have no power to block the hire. “If true, it signals an effort by the administration to politicize the census,” said Terri Ann Lowenthal, former co-director of the Census Project, an organization that tracks the census. “It’s very troubling.”
Trump will violate American democratic norms in order to install Brunell by intentionally going around the Senate confirmation process.
As deputy director of the Census Bureau, Brunell would become the highest-ranking permanent official at the agency. Though the deputy director technically reports to the census director, that slot is temporarily being filled by a career civil servant, since former director John Thompson resigned at the end of June. There is currently no nominee for a permanent director.
Brunell is a public advocate of partisan gerrymandering (though to be fair, he has criticized aspects of it). He has served as a consultant on the issue to a number of states. He is a registered Republican.
He has frequently advised states on redrawing their congressional maps. In his 2008 book, “Redistricting and Representation,” he argued that partisan districts packed with like-minded voters actually lead to better representation than ones more evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, because fewer voters in partisan districts cast a vote for a losing candidate.
Dennis Hastert, a former speaker of the House and an accused sexual predator said this of Brunell's book:
"In this book, Professor Brunell provocatively challenges conventional thinking about representation and political satisfaction. He convincingly argues that electoral competition is not, nor perhaps should it be, the hallmark of democracy." (via Amazon.com)
--J. Dennis Hastert (IL-14), Speaker of the United States House of Representatives (1999-2007)