Miller Time: My Sunday With Joe
FAIRBANKS, AK — All three Republican US Senate candidates—Dan Sullivan, Joe Miller and Mead Treadwell—attended the Tea Party-ish Day of Resistance event in Wasilla last Sunday. But only one, Joe Miller, then braved the cold of the interior to attend the rally in Fairbanks. It appears Sullivan and Treadwell would like to peel off a few of the conservative and libertarian activists who are Miller’s base, as long as it doesn’t inconvenience them into having to head north.
It was just as well, as candidates of tony New England pedigree and Beltway insiders from DC are unlikely to have earned a rousing ovation from the anti-establishment folks who showed up in Fairbanks.
Miller, for his part, was all too happy to let the audience know whom and what they were missing, reserving his most pointed zinger for Sullivan:
“Don’t be fooled…people are going to walk around saying ‘I’m the guy you need to vote for because I’m gonna push back the feds,’ but then you scrape away the veneer and you find out they’ve been working for the very agencies that are involved in the surveillance state.”
Ouch. Take that, White House National Security Council bureaucrat with the big, fancy home in Bethesda.
“There are a lot of good people on the left in this state”
Miller frequently sounded bipartisan themes. Yours truly was name-checked from the stage when the candidate made a point about our national security apparatus menacing the press. The “left and right can come together around this” theme made so many appearances that I wondered if it was at least in part for my benefit. Had I not been there to cover the event, would the tone have veered more toward red meat partisanship? Perhaps.
Ironically, Miller’s willingness to engage with—and make his case to—people he knows are of opposite political leanings is reminiscent of no one moreso than incumbent Democrat Mark Begich. Though neither is likely to be pleased with the comparison, it is a credit to both men that they’re willing to venture off the safe, scripted path and choir-preaching. Begich regularly appears on right-wing talk radio outlets he knows are hostile to him, and Miller was all too pleased to make his case to Mudflats readers:
Miller’s point is not without merit. Here are three issues, and critically important ones at that, where progressives have a stalwart ally in Joe Miller. (And yes, it feels weird to be writing that sentence.)
The Surveillance State
Instead of debating personalities and whether Edward Snowden is a hero or a traitor, we might think bigger. What distinguishes Jeffersonian democracy from more repressive regimes is the question of who answers to whom when it comes to the relationship between the government and the governed. At least in theory, our government is supposed to work for us—not the other way around.
As an unapologetic liberal who supports public education and infrastructure, I believe government can and should do useful things. I’m also pro-choice, and support marriage equality. There’s no shortage of issues on which Mr. Miller and I disagree. But one need not be a government-hating Tea Partier to find the NSA, NDAA and other security state acronyms downright creepy these days, and for good reason.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Treaty
It was heartening to hear Miller, without hesitation and with a disgusted look, declare as “terrible” the proposed TPP treaty. This is not some esoteric, boutique issue. It affects all Americans in very real ways, from food and product safety, to jobs and exports, intellectual property and patents, and indeed our national sovereignty. The TPP would enable unelected, foreign, corporate tribunals to negate our own laws in order to bring us into compliance with the treaty. (Of course, the fun doesn’t begin in earnest until the aforementioned NSA eavesdropping and secretive global trade pacts crash into each other.)
It is said that in politics there are no permanent friends or enemies—only permanent issues. Just as our civil liberties and personal privacy are not trivial matters, whether we sacrifice our nation’s self-determination at the altar of corporate globalization is a rather important question to confront. For a progressive, it’s depressing to consider that Joe Miller is better on these issues than a president for whom I voted twice. The two-party system is a sloppy way to self-identify.
It’s unclear whether Miller would have become interested in this issue had he not ended up on the short end of Alaska’s notorious electoral shenanigans, but he did and so he is. Republicans are not the only ones guilty of caring about this issue only when it becomes personal. And the way to prove oneself as principled on this issue, instead of being motivated only by self-interest, is to stand for election integrity when the opposite party’s candidate is getting screwed. In this regard, I and other progressives who take the issue to heart stood fast by Miller during his 2010 senate bid, generating more than a little criticism from some on our own side of the aisle.
The 2010 election saw only one candidate (Lisa Murkowski, who ran a write-in campaign) receive the gold standard of vote counting—a full hand count by actual human beings. The other two candidates were left to rely on the application of inconsistent legal standards that gave Murkowski a higher vote count than she should have had. In addition, Miller and Democratic candidate Scott McAdams received only a machine count utilizing antiquated and corruptible Diebold voting machines that have been objectively proven so inconsistent, unreliable, and easily hackable by remote control, that California decided to destroy theirs rather than entrust them to accurately count a clean vote. Miller eventually lost the 2010 vote, after an unsuccessful lawsuit.
When the Municipality of Anchorage suffered its own election debacle at the hands of the Dan Sullivan administration, I was curious to see if Miller was a “fair weather election integrity advocate” or whether he would stand up with Democrats and progressives who were outraged by the negligence and nefarious nature of the Municipal election vote count. Mr. Miller did not disappoint, and issued a statement which concluded:
“In the aftermath of the 2010 Senate election, I received support from some who are polar opposite to my political views. Why? Because vote integrity is a nonpartisan issue, critical to the survival of our Republic. When real voting problems are experienced, there should be an immediate, honest review of the process. Our Division of Elections and local officials must then be held accountable – by those of all political persuasion – to make all changes necessary to ensure the integrity of future elections.”
As the Day of Resistance rally wrapped up, I also spent some time speaking with Miller’s wife, whom he calls “my Spartan queen.” Kathleen Miller is disarmingly and hilariously candid. Recalling Mitch McConnell’s ornate, grandiose Senate office with an eyeroll, she scoffed that “it looked like it was decorated by Liberace.”
I wonder what she’d think of Dan Sullivan’s $1.3 million Maryland home.
(This has been Part Two of our “Day of Resistance” coverage. You can read Part One here.)