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.