Author Tim Miller to talk about “Why We Did It” memoir at Midtown Reader
How far would you go to support a deeply flawed candidate, flawed policy, or corrosive idea before feeling shame or guilt?
That’s the central question in Tim Miller’s bestselling memoir “Why We Did It: A Travelogue from the Republican Road to Hell,” published by Harper this summer.
Miller, one of the GOP’s top communications professionals in the years leading up to the 2016 campaign, will join downtown drive at 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 15, to discuss his own decision to lead the nationwide “Never Trump” effort.
As a former Republican insider, Miller has witnessed the unfolding of the Trump era firsthand, and he casts an unwavering gaze on many of the main characters in that drama, including juicer Sean Spicer, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik and Presidential Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Miller spares no one – including himself – as he laments the abandonment of principles in the service of the accumulation of raw political power and access.
I had the good fortune to work twice with Miller; in 2012 as a member of the GOP “autopsy” project analyzing Mitt Romney’s recent loss to President Obama, and again in 2016 on Jeb Bush’s unsuccessful bid for the White House.
Miller’s book accurately chronicles our efforts to push the GOP to be a more welcoming and diverse party, but explains how quickly that effort was derailed when Trump weaponized grievances and nationalism to activate a dormant segment of the electorate. since a long time.
“The whole conceit of the book is trying to figure out why people who know better accept bad things. Trump was so over the line that there was no gray area there. But I wonder if that had been a closer call, would I have been in the same boat as some of the characters in the book?, Miller asks.
Miller’s book is hilarious in many places, terrifyingly sobering in others – a stark commentary on what some will do to preserve power and self-importance at all costs.
Miller examines 11 buckets which he includes in a “bag full of complicity”. Everyone from the “Tribalist Trolls” to the “Strivers” to the “Compartimentalizers” are making allowances.
Q. Did Miller hesitate to write such a revealing book?
A. “No, I really tried to figure out ‘why we did it’…. I wanted to write the most honest book possible.
Miller says being gay gave him a capacity for empathy and an ability to see the harm in Trump’s cruelty; but being a parent has given her an even greater perspective. Miller and her husband adopted a baby girl in 2018. “The idea that I could have done anything besides being fully in combat with forces that were pushing this kind of evil just wasn’t a option for me,” he says unequivocally.
Q. Is there a chance the GOP can rebuild?
A. “Already? Yes. Soon? No.” he says. “These things take time – the contaminants don’t just go away…the ripples in the pond just go on for a while.”
Q. Did the writing of the book put an end to it?
A. “I’m less confused, but I don’t think I closed,” Miller said. “We don’t have a fence right now in our policy. People wanted 2020 to be the end of a chapter, where the villain was defeated. But we’re not there.
“Problems arise when there is no self-examination. No reflection on the underlying issues you are covering up. No will to walk away when the person or group you are defending becomes indefensible…” Miller writes.
Q. What does it mean to go too far in today’s world of polarized politics? What is your “red line”?
Miller argues that the book’s claim is to be self-aware and not to cross that line – “not to do these things” – that’s the takeaway.
Sally Bradshaw is the owner of Midtown Reader, an independent bookstore in Midtown Tallahassee.
If you are going to
Where: Midtown Drive, 1123 Thomasville Rd. You can order your book from Midtown Reader in advance. Visit midtownreader.com or purchase a signed copy at the event. $35 with book
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