Bruce Chapman

Cofounder and Chairman of the Board of Discovery Institute

Bruce Kerry Chapman is an author and former elected and appointed official who serves as Chairman of the Board of Discovery Institute, a public policy think tank he founded in Seattle in 1990/91. He also is a fellow in the institute’s Chapman Center on Citizen Leadership. In 2018, Mr. Chapman’s latest book appeared, entitled, Politicians: The Worst Kind of People to Run the Government, Except for All the Others. It critiques the growing power of “middlemen” in politics — bureaucracy, media, academics and special interests — and the loss of responsibility by the people’s elected representatives.

Born in Evanston, Illinois (December 1, 1940), Mr. Chapman attended public schools in Monmouth, Illinois and was graduated from Harvard College, with honors, in 1962.  At Harvard, he and George Gilder started a magazine, later moved to Washington, DC, called Advance:  A Journal of Republican Thought. In 1965/66 Mr. Chapman was an editorial writer at The New York Herald Tribune, writing on politics and the military draft. He authored (with George Gilder) The Party That Lost its Head (published 1966), an indictment of the 1964 Goldwater campaign’s abandonment of the civil rights issue and a call for “conservative answers” to public problems, rather than mere opposition to liberal policies.

Mr. Chapman’s book, The Wrong Man in Uniform, (1967), and its paperback successor (Our Unfair and Obsolete Draft), made a popular and influential case against conscription and for an all-volunteer military. In 1969, he authored the report of the Washington State Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Civil Disorders.

Mr. Chapman was an elected member of the Seattle City Council (1971-75), innovating on historic preservation and championing parks development.  As Secretary of State of the State of Washington (1975-81) he headed the state’s Bicentennial committee, promoted the teaching of civics and wrote a statistical report comparing the 50 states. He was an unsuccessful candidate for Governor in the Republican primary of 1980. Appointed by President Reagan as Director of the U.S. Census Bureau (1981-83), he later served on the White House Staff as Deputy Assistant to the President (1983-85), where, among other things, he promoted family policy initiatives. In 1985 he was nominated and confirmed as U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations Organizations in Vienna, where he served until 1988. He was a Hudson Institute fellow in 1989/90 in Indianapolis, before founding Discovery Institute in Seattle.

Mr. Chapman and his wife, Sarah, live in Seattle, where their two grown sons and their families also reside.


Republicans Could Lead on Mental Health Treatment

Tucked away in the gun law President Biden just signed is a provision increasing funding for preventive outpatient treatment for mental illness. This is an important step toward solving America’s mental-health crisis but only part of what’s needed.

Republicans Could Lead on Mental Health Treatment

Tucked away in the gun law President Biden just signed is a provision increasing funding for preventive outpatient treatment for mental illness. This is an important step toward solving America’s mental-health crisis but only part of what’s needed.

Republicans Could Lead on Mental Health Treatment

Tucked away in the gun law President Biden just signed is a provision increasing funding for preventive outpatient treatment for mental illness. This is an important step toward solving America’s mental-health crisis but only part of what’s needed.

When Muslims Choose Liberty Over Force

What would it mean to world peace if Muslims with influence were to lead a movement for liberty in religious affairs, as well as in politics? A lot, of course, but what are the chances?

Free Speech, Fair Speech Vs. Woke

Free speech in American life is protected by the First Amendment—when the government is involved—but also by a broader understanding that differing views should be heard and respected in private academic settings, at meetings open to the public, and even in corporate settings.

Politicians: Can’t Live With Them, Can’t Live Without Them

An Excerpt from Bruce Chapman's 'Politicians.'
When frustrated by election results, it’s useful to remember why it’s hard to live with politicians but even harder to live without them. Bruce K. Chapman reminds us that “a good political life, in the spirit of the Constitution, aims at a ‘more perfect union,’ not a perfect one.”

Dreading the Coming Gloom? Blame Congress For Not Making Daylight Saving Time Permanent

It’s already too late to fix the clock this year. Congress has failed to pass legislation to allow states to stay on permanent daylight saving time. On Nov. 3, we return to tiresome old Standard Time. Some people like that, but most don’t. Last spring the cause of permanent daylight saving time seemed bright. State after state asked Congress for permission to enact the change. California voters in a November, 2018, referendum supported it 60% to 40%. Floridians, led by Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott and House Rep. Vern Buchanan, were enthusiastic. Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Patty Murray of Washington joined Rubio to co-sponsor the Sunshine Protection Act of 2019. “Making Daylight Saving Time permanent is O.K. with me!” tweeted President Donald Trump.

We Need to Bring Back Real Debates in America

The televised Democratic presidential sound byte pageants will not be true debates by any realistic standard. They are reminiscent of the 2016 Republican primaries that started with 16 candidates preening on a platform and enduring “gotcha” questions by reporters/moderators trying to get themselves into the news story. Until the nominee field narrows, these shows are almost a parody of real debates in the Lincoln-Douglas or Oxford Union manner. That’s too bad. We need to bring back real debates in America, and not just among candidates. Name the issue (climate change, foreign interference in our elections, abortion, immigration, tariffs, privacy online, the future of artificial intelligence, the meaning of “free speech,” whatever): Americans are badly divided. Since media and politicians often operate in inward-looking communities, they tend to ignore or distort views that differ from their own. In this environment, mere calls for greater civility don’t work. What can work is facing issues straight on and together.

‘Ivory Tower’–A Documentary Babel

Formerly the road to success, higher education is becoming a primrose path to dependency and delayed maturity for those who aren't rich enough to pay their way and for talented, if poor, youth for whom someone else pays the freight.

Minimum Wage’s Unintended Consequences

The $15 minimum wage adopted by the town of Sea-Tac (the neighborhood of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport) is having results--and causing resentments--that the proponents of the new law probably did nor foresee.

Gilder Prophet Outside His Own Country

Not only did Francisco Maroquin University salute Gilder--and bring almost all its students out to hear him in various venues--it also has named a center on technology and economics in his honor.

Geeks Should Like Gildernomics

Venture capitalist Tom Alberg reviews George Gilder’s Knowledge and Powertoday for, managing to sound objective while still pushing the Gilder analysis forward. Well he should, as they are old friends of decades’ standing.

Romney’s Bain Experience is a Plus

Scott S. Powell, a senior fellow of Discovery Institute, has an article in today's Investors Business Daily urging Mitt Romney to be more assertive about the value of his Bain experience.

Private Company Could Pay Off 8 EU Nation’s Debts

John Cook, of Seattle-based GeekWire, reports that Apple has enough cash reserves to pay off eight EU countries’ debts–if it wanted to, which, of course, it doesn’t. This story, based on an infographic from MBA Online the day before, puts Apple’s big quarter in prospective. GeekWire characterizes their revenue as “Three Yahoos, two Googles and a Microsoft”. It’s also interesting, and worth noting, that 2/3 of it is stored overseas. Here we have a company that makes trinkets, bought voluntarily by free people, produced willingly by free people. Yet even after giving billions of dollars to the governments they labor under, they still make more money than even the most irresponsible governments can lose. Consider: Governments take money from people Read More ›

Defending the First Amendment: Implications of the Recent CSC Settlement

On this episode of ID the Future, Joshua Youngkin interviews Discovery Institute President Bruce Chapman about the implications of the recent lawsuit between the American Freedom Alliance (AFA) and the California Science Center (CSC). The CSC, a government-run institution, canceled the AFA’s screening of Darwin’s Dilemma in an act of censorship of the intelligent design viewpoint and violation of first amendment rights. Chapman discusses why the CSC’s agreement to pay $110,000 to the AFA is a significant victory for champions of both free speech and free intellectual inquiry.

Apple’s Orchard, an Act of Design Excellence

Steve Jobs, who grew up in Cupertino, CA, has blessed his home town with a proposed new campus for Apple that is spectacular in its vision, as well as in its optimism about the company’s future. In a matter-of-fact presentation to the Cupertino City Council Jobs presented plans that were received with stolid approval, but that justified celebratory balloons and a town band. That’s because the new scheme is a design breakthrough. The new headquarters Jobs wants to build will transform land that once was apricot orchards and is now a sprawl of undistinguished high tech office buildings into a spectacular single building that will house up to 13,000 people in a kind of donut shape of glass, steel and Read More ›

Facebook Helped Provoke the Egyptian Revolution; But Can it Govern?

The revolution in Egypt is another historic product of alternative media, espeically Facebook, home to the "April 6 movement" that commemorates the brutal beating death of a young Egyptian blogger who had exposed the 2008 beating of a demonstrator in the industrial city of El-Mahalla El-Jubra. Instead of stopping the communication, the police beatings provoked a huge following. And then a revolution.

Tech Continues to Lead Israel Boom

If the United States were growing as well as our Israeli ally, we’d be in fat city right now. The news from the little Mediterranean powerhouse just keeps looking up. GDP rose 3.8 percent last quarter, down from 4.5 percent in the previous quarter, but still very brisk. Technology stocks overwhelmingly lead the way. George Gilder’s thesis in The Israel Test is thus validated daily. Imagine a developed country that sells more to China than it buys!

Gilder: California’s Fall Threatens All

Our Sr. Fellow George Gilder now commands the “most read” space on the Wall Street Journal opinion page today with “California’s Destructive Green Jobs Lobby”. The information adds nails to the coffin that voters in the Golden State have fashioned for themselves. It has been a familiar theme for Discovery News ( for weeks. You might think that the California calamity opens opportunities for other states, notably nearby Washington, where voters just turned down an income tax on the wealthy (e.g., entrepreneurs, small businesses, investors in new jobs) and where the next state legislative session is not about new taxes, but major surgery on spending. Washington has energy for power-hungry computer companies and it has an outstanding employee base. Texas Read More ›

Gilder Laughs at Kessler Robots

(Note: Andy Kessler, hedge fund billionaire, meteoric success in Silicon Valley and at AT&T Bell Labs and author of four non-fiction books, has a novel out now: Grumby, a tale of the future of robotic intelligence. Gilder just read it.) by George Gilder Steve Jobs recoils in panic, pushing madly forth his inferior pods and paddles, ipups and ap-kits, Quicktunes and iTimes, before giving in to his disgrumbyment. Mark Zuckerburg wanders forlorn and friendless on Facebook, before finally matriculating at Harvard’s new Grumby school of transgendered robotics. Meg Whitman lifts weights and flees to the muscle bound beaches and bureaucracies of California politics, now entirely virtualized by Grumby. Bob Metcalfe propounds an ethereal power law of Grumbynets. Eric Schmidt gives Read More ›

Obama Names Tom Alberg to New National Council on Entrepreneurship

Tom Alberg, who helped found Discovery Institute in 1990 and was president of its Board for many years (and still serves as a Director), is one of the most innovative entrepreneurs around. He knows the importance of pro-growth economic policies and is keenly aware of the dangers of the present moment. So it is with delight that I note that he has been appointed by President Obama to the prestigious new National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The Council will operate under Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, former governor of Washington State. Alberg is a lawyer by background, who served as Sr. Vice President at McCaw Cellular when it was sold to AT&T. He was an early investor in Amazon Read More ›

Gilder Was Prescient; How About Now?

The popular Instanpundit correctly cites George Gilder for his early prediction of the Internet (what he called the Teleputer): “LIFE AFTER LIFE AFTER TELEVISION: With nearly 20 years of hindsight, the blurb for George Gilder’s book Life After Television, published in 1992, shortly before the first browser was available for consumers to access the still-nascent World Wide Web, sounds remarkably prescient: “Gilder’s thesis, written in layman’s terms, is that the United States will soon lose its rightful preeminence in the telecommunications field to foreign competitors, particularly the Japanese. Unless, that is, American business executives, legislators, judges, and consumers look beyond separate, limited, and hierarchical forms of communication such as television, telephones, and online databases to a multifunctional, interactive, and democratic Read More ›

FCC Power Grab Further Pummels Economy

A sudden decision by the head of the Federal Communications Commission to accept Net Neutrality rules flies in the face of the economic arguments–and the fairness arguments–against such a departure. Hance Haney made the case earlier this week in the Seattle Times. “An open Internet where broadband providers do not block access to websites or discriminate between content or applications isn’t a vision,” he writes. “It’s a description of the unregulated Internet we already enjoy today. Those in Washington, D.C., who want to change it could stymie it instead and damage the economy.” He was speaking of the FCC. Read it all here.

Net Neutrality is an Orwellian Phrase for Government Direction of the Internet

Senior Fellow George Gilder has shot a little arrow into the Obama Administration plans for “net neutrality”. The Tuesday Wall Street Journal carries George’s attack. The author of Life After Television, Microcosm and Telecosm, among others, has been trying hard to make the point that the very cutting edge of our economy is high technology and its abundant success is the product of freedom from government over-regulation. Obama and Co., he says, hope to change that. Net neutrality is Orwellian. It is further evidence of America’s careening drive into a planned economy–and stagnation.

The Pope’s Parlay

In this episode Discovery Institute President Bruce Chapman comments on Pope Benedict’s conclave on evolution scheduled for this weekend. Recent news stories that the Pope may be about to endorse intelligent design as a scientific theory is way off the mark, according to Chapman. For more about the Catholic Church’s debate over evolution and intelligent design visit Evolutuion News & Views.