The Man Who Made Stephen Miller

Good long and interesting read:

In December 2012, with the Republican Party reeling from a brutal election that left Democrats in control of the White House and the Senate, the conservative activist David Horowitz emailed a strategy paper to the office of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions.

Horowitz, now 81, was a longtime opponent of immigration and the founder of a think tank and a campus freedom-of-speech advocacy group. He saw in Sessions a kindred spirit—a senator who could reawaken a more nationalist fire in the Republican party. The person he emailed it to was a Sessions aide: Stephen Miller. Horowitz, who recalled the episode in an interview and shared the emails with me, had known Miller since the aide was in high school.

Horowitz encouraged Miller to not only give the paper to Sessions but to circulate it in the Senate. Miller expressed eagerness to share it and asked for instructions. “Leave the Confidential note on it. It gives it an aura that will make people pay more attention to it,” Horowitz wrote. The paper, “Playing to the Head Instead of the Heart: Why Republicans Lost and How They Can Win,” included a section on the political utility of hostile feelings. Horowitz wrote that Democrats know how to “hate their opponents,” how to “incite envy and resentment, distrust and fear, and to direct those volatile emotions.” He urged Republicans to “return their fire.”

Horowitz wrote that hope and fear are the two strongest weapons in politics. Barack Obama had used hope to become president. “Fear is a much stronger and more compelling emotion,” Horowitz argued, adding that Republicans should appeal to voters’ base instincts.

It is perhaps the most compact crystallization of the relationship that propelled Miller, now a senior policy adviser and speechwriter in the Donald Trump administration, to the White House and of the importance that relationship has had in the administration. The friendship between Miller and Horowitz began when Miller—who did not respond to interview requests for the book from which this article was adapted—was in high school and continued throughout his career. Tracing it reveals a source of Miller’s laser focus on immigration restriction, which has over the past few years resulted in a ban on travel from mostly-Muslim countries and a policy that separated families crossing the border into the United States to seek asylum. If you want to understand the language Trump uses to talk about immigrants and his opponents, or the immigration policies he has put into place, often via Miller, you have to also understand David Horowitz, and the formative role he played in Miller’s career and life.

Miller met Horowitz shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks when Miller was a teenager growing up on the Southern California coast. He was going through a period of family turmoil. A few years before, they had moved out of a million-dollar home in a wealthy white neighborhood to a slightly smaller house in a more diverse neighborhood. Miller’s father Michael was having financial troubles and fighting several legal battles related to his real estate company, including a fight with his brother whom he permanently separated from the family with a no-contact order in a settlement agreement. Rather than attending a private school the way Michael’s youngest son later did, his oldest son Stephen found himself at a diverse public school, which celebrated Día de los Muertos and Cinco de Mayo.

When his father was tangled up in lawsuits, Miller found comfort in a number of conservative California-based talk radio show hosts, including Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh complained about multiculturalism and the poor, whom he called “the biggest piglets at the mother pig and her nipples” in his book The Way Things Ought To Be. Miller read the book and later cited it as a favorite….

Adapted with permission from HATEMONGER: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda by Jean Guerrero. Copyright © 2020 by Jean Guerrero. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Source: The Man Who Made Stephen Miller

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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