Each new candidate for Commission membership is carefully scrutinized before being allowed entry. As a rule, members who take up positions in their national governments — which is uncannily common — give up their Trilateral Commission membership while in public service. Those include U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security adviser, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
This revolving door between the commission and senior government ranks has always been fodder for conspiracy theorists. Its first director in 1973, Zbigniew Brzezinski, later became U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser. The very existence of the commission, meanwhile, seems predicated on the question of whether governing should be left to the people. It is a question the commission itself has tackled head-on since 1975: Is democracy functioning? Or does someone need to guide it?
That year, three scholars — Michel Crozier, Samuel Huntington and Joji Watanuki — wrote a report for The Trilateral Commission titled “The Crisis of Democracy.” In it, Huntington wrote that some of the problems of governance in the U.S. stem from an “excess of democracy.”