Why We Did It

Why We Did It

by Tim Miller
Setting: United States
Genres: Nonfiction, Political Science
Length: 8:14
Published on June 28, 2022
Pages: 288
Format: Audiobook Source: Library
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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.

I read a lot of political books but I don’t generally read ones written by Republicans. This is an interesting perspective on the rise of Trump as seen from the inside of the Republican party.

Tim Miller was deep in Republican party politics. In the 2016 presidential campaign he was working for Jeb Bush when Trump started to gain momentum. He was an ardent Never Trump-er who watched in shock as his friends and coworkers went from hating Trump to moving to work for him. This book is his attempt to analyze the reasons why it happened.

He points out people who did it because of ambition or because they thought worse people would take the positions if they didn’t. He talked to people who see all of politics as a game to play that doesn’t really have consequences. He talks to friends who cried on election night but justified taking jobs in the administration because they needed to keep paying their mortgage.

He also talks to the people who became true believers because they were benefiting from the chaos that Trump was causing. Trump tapped into their anger at the world and their desire to see it all burn.

This is a quick and entertaining look at a deeply important issue that it is necessary to understand. It doesn’t have a lot of answers about finding a way forward but it answers a lot of questions about how we moved in this direction as a country.