President Trump’s point man on restrictive voting policy was a protegé of a conservative scholar notorious for his anti-democratic and nativist views, The New York Times Magazine reports.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the driving force behind the White House commission on voter fraud, wrote his Harvard thesis under the guidance of Samuel Huntington, according to a new profile of Kobach by Ari Berman. Kobach’s thesis opposed the movement to divest from South Africa, arguing that international businesses were already leading the way against apartheid, writes Berman. Huntington had been an adviser to South Africa’s apartheid government, as well as a national security aide to President Jimmy Carter.
Berman also quotes from a 1975 report by Huntington on “The Crisis of Democracy,” produced for the Trilateral Commission, in which he aimed to explain the reasons for declining public confidence in government.
I wrote about the report in The Great Suppression:
Huntington blamed the problem on an “excess of democracy,” embodied by the popular movements of the 1960s, which he thought raised the threat of disorder and chaos. Ideally, Huntington suggested, it would be best for everyone if previously disfavored groups could go back to being disfavored. “In the past, every democratic society has had a marginal population, of greater or lesser size, which has not actively participated in politics. In itself, this marginality on the part of some groups is inherently undemocratic,” he conceded. But that was in fact a good thing because “it also has been one of the factors that has enabled democracy to function effectively.”
“We have come to recognize that there are potentially desirable limits to economic growth,” he concluded. “There are also potentially desirable limits to the indefinite extension of political democracy.”
Huntington would go on to warn in two books written in 1996 and 2004 that America’s “Anglo-Protestant culture” was being threatened by Mexican immigrants.
As Berman suggests, it’s not hard to see Huntington’s influence on Kobach, who has made his career on two issues: tough immigration policies—he wrote Arizona’s controversial “papers please” law, which was weakened after a settlement—and restrictive voting measures. Indeed, the centerpiece of Kobach’s tenure as Kansas Secretary of State has been a law that elegantly combines his two obsessions: It requires people registering to vote to provide documentary proof of citizenship, making it harder for many naturalized citizens, and plenty of others, to get on the rolls.
Read the whole Kobach profile here.