DW: How long have you been a Republican?
Tim Miller: Boy — since I was a kid. My whole life. I started to get into politics in middle school and identified as a Republican then. I remember paying close attention to the 1996 [presidential] primary, and then I took a job as an intern while in high school on a Republican governor’s race in Colorado in 1998.
In 2016, the year Donald Trump was elected, you worked on Republican Jeb Bush’s presidential primary campaign. What was your initial impression of Trump running for president?
I did not think he could win. I thought it was a joke. Turns out I was wrong, obviously. His poll numbers were doing well, he was having a big impact on driving the narrative of the race, so we pivoted to taking him more seriously early in the summer.
Why did you not want him to win?
Everything imaginable about Donald Trump. His initial platform for engaging in politics was advancing the racist conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was born in Africa. I thought that was disgusting. His announcement speech included racist attacks on Mexicans being rapists and criminals. He is obviously on every level unqualified for the job. His personal character is beneath what I thought we should expect for a president.
Tim Miller is the political director of Republican Voters Against Trump
Who did you vote for in the general presidential election in 2016?
I decided the last week to vote for Hillary [Clinton, the Democratic candidate]. I was initially persuaded by the argument that maybe there should be a third-party candidate. But I determined that Donald Trump was just too great of a threat to the country to cast a throwaway vote for someone that didn’t have the best chance to beat him. So I voted for Hillary.
What do you think of Donald Trump now and of his presidency so far?
It has been an utter disaster in every imaginable sense. He has degraded the office of the presidency to a degree that would have been unimaginable five years ago. He has ruined our alliances with our allies overseas such as Germany, while cozying up to the most grotesque dictators in the world, from Kim Jong Un [in North Korea] to Erdogan [in Turkey], to Xi [in China], to Putin [in Russia]. These are his allies — the autocrats, not the democratic nations that should be America’s allies throughout the world. He has bungled and mismanaged the [coronavirus] pandemic worse than any leader in the world, except perhaps the mini-Trump in Brazil [President Jair Bolsonaro].
Trump has not demonstrated any interest in taking the job seriously. He has further exacerbated racial tensions in this country. He’s the first president in my lifetime who is not even attempting to unite or heal the country at a time of racial division.
He’s been an utter failure, and I’m happy to be part of the effort to get rid of him. I look forward to voting for Joe Biden.
Joe Biden is the Democratic candidate for president in the November 2020 election
In how far do you consider Donald Trump a Republican?
He’s very far from the classical liberal Republicans that I identified with growing up. I don’t think he’s very similar to George H. W. Bush or Ronald Reagan at all. Obviously he shares certain policy stances with Republicans past, on taxes and things like that. But as far as the fundamental values of the party go, he’s in conflict with what I believe those values to be. Though now I think that the party is changing, and probably for the worse because of him.
What do you think those Republican values are?
Individual dignity is one. Free markets and free people. Donald Trump is hostile to free trade. He is not an ally to free people around the world as Republicans have been in the past. I think he only cares for liberty for his own supporters, for white people.
Read more: Opinion: Systemic racism is the real ‘American carnage’
How do you see Trump’s chances for reelection?
You know, I did a bad job predicting last time. I think we’re a long way away from the elections, we’re in uncertain times, so predicting what’s going to happen in November right now is a fool’s errand.
What would Trump’s reelection mean for the Republican party and for the country?
If Trump were to be reelected, the Republican party would essentially be a nativist, Trumpian party for the foreseeable future.
I think that the country would suffer great damage over the next four years. I think our standing as a leader in the world, which has eroded greatly over the last four years, would disappear if Trump were around for another four years. And I think it would create a period of intense turmoil in the country, that extremism on the left and on the right would increase in response to a second Trump term.
Tim Miller is the political director of the Republican Voters Against Trump project, which aims to prevent Donald Trump’s reelection. He was a communications advisor for Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign in the 2016 Republican primary race and has worked for a number of high-profile Republicans, including 2008 presidential candidate John McCain.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.