Trump’s top pick to run the Census Bureau: The author of ‘Competitive Elections Are Bad for America’

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United States Studies Centre / YouTube Tom Brunell on partisan redistricting in...
United States Studies Centre / YouTube

Republicanism: the art of selecting the worst possible person for every job.

The Trump administration is leaning toward naming Thomas Brunell, a Texas professor with no government experience, to the top operational job at the U.S. Census Bureau, according to two people who have been briefed on the bureau’s plans.

Brunell, a political science professor, has testified more than half a dozen times on behalf of Republican efforts to redraw congressional districts, and is the author of a 2008 book titled “Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections Are Bad for America.”

Because what America really needs is, of course, more elections in which one side or the other will always win, in all circumstances, even if one side decides to pick a criminal or a pedophile, and voters needn’t bother even showing up.

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.

This is after Brunell was floated to be the census director, but the idea was panned in the Senate for the whole grossly-unqualified-devoted-partisan business. (And consider, for a moment, what it takes to be considered unqualified or too partisan for this Republican Senate.)

Why would an advocate for redistricting and non-competitive elections be appointed to run the 2020 census? What possible qualification is that for counting up America’s citizens and reporting the numbers back? Why the insistence on stuffing this fellow into the census gears regardless of what the Senate itself thinks?

We all know the answer to that, of course. It is Kobachian. It is to rig the census in whatever small ways it can be rigged. It is to make sure the “wrong” sort of people are not counted with quite as much efficiency as the “right” sort of people. It is to make sure one side Wins and one side Loses, so that competitive elections do not happen, at least not for a decade.

Otherwise, you’d just toss a nonpartisan, qualified statistics guru into the role and call it done.


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