The Trump Whisperer
Stephen Miller, the US president’s senior policy adviser, resembles a type on the far right that is more common in Europe: young, slick, sharp-suited, even a trifle dandyish. But Miller is an anomaly in American politics for a much more disturbing reason.
NEW YORK – There are a lot of oddballs in US President Donald Trump’s entourage, but few are as odd – or as sinister – as 33-year-old Stephen Miller, Trump’s senior policy adviser. Miller resembles a type on the far right that is more common in Europe than the US: young, slick, sharp-suited, even a trifle dandyish. He is a skilled rabble-rouser, whose inflammatory rhetoric against immigrants and refugees – “We’re going to build that wall high and we’re going to build it tall!”– drives the crowds at Trump rallies into a frenzy. One of his crowd-pleasing notions is that migrants will infect Americans with terrible diseases.
Miller plays to all of Trump’s worst instincts: belligerent chauvinism, vindictive loathing of liberals, and hostility to minorities. His partisanship is extreme. In his own words: “Everything that is wrong with this country today, the people who are opposed to Donald Trump are responsible for!” He may actually believe this.
What is odd about Miller, among other things, is the seeming clash between his views on immigrants, refugees, and minorities and his personal background. He is a descendent of Jews who came to the United States after fleeing pogroms in Belorussia. He grew up in California. His parents were Democrats. But he was already reading far-right literature (anti-gun control magazines and the like) in high school and has since consorted with ideologues whose ideas are often hard to distinguish from anti-Semitism. Trump’s speech last year commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day failed even to mention Jews; some believe that Miller was the author.
We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.
To continue reading, subscribe now.
Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.
Already have an account or want to create one? Log in