Former Republican political operative Tim Miller answers the question no one else has fully grappled with: Why did normal people go along with the worst of Trumpism?
As one of the strategists behind the famous 2012 RNC “autopsy,” Miller conducts his own forensic study on the pungent carcass of the party he used to love, cutting into all the hubris, ambition, idiocy, desperation, and self-deception for everyone to see. In a bracingly honest reflection on both his own past work for the Republican Party and the contortions of his former peers in the GOP establishment, Miller draws a straight line between the actions of the 2000s GOP to the Republican political class's Trumpian takeover, including the horrors of January 6th.
From ruminations on the mental jujitsu that allowed him as a gay man to justify becoming a hitman for homophobes, to astonishingly raw interviews with former colleagues who jumped on the Trump Train, Miller diagrams the flattering and delusional stories GOP operatives tell themselves so they can sleep at night. With a humorous touch he reveals Reince Priebus' neediness, Sean Spicer's desperation, Elise Stefanik and Chris Christie’s raw ambition, and his close friends’ submission to a MAGA psychosis.
Why We Did It is a vital, darkly satirical warning that all the narcissistic justifications that got us to this place still thrive within the Republican party, which means they will continue to make the same mistakes and political calculations that got us here, with disastrous consequences for the nation.
"America never would have gotten into this mess if it weren't for me and my friends," writes former Republican operative Miller in this anguished yet entertaining expos of the party's enthrallment to Donald Trump. Reflecting on his early experiences as a PR consultant and spokesman for John McCain's 2007 Republican primary campaign, Miller admits that in an era when success "was so often removed from political beliefs," he "ma allowances" for Republican opposition to gay marriage, despite being a closeted gay man himself at the time. (He's proud, however, of his role in calling attention to the story that Mitt Romney more than once drove 12 hours with the family dog strapped to the roof of the car.) Comparing the "brainteasers I was playing with my closeted self" to the mental gymnastics of mainstream Republicans who hopped on the Trump bandwagon, Miller also documents the "informal working relationship" he developed with Breitbart cofounder Steve Bannon, despite their "deeply conflicting values and big-picture objectives," and examines the forces including House Speaker Paul Ryan's departure that pushed congresswoman Elise Stefanik to "take the red pill and open her mind to the great MAGA future." Witty prose, colorful anecdotes, and copious insider details make this a worthwhile dissection of how Republican "Never Trumpers" got pushed aside.