Interview with Paul David Miller, PhD
As the author of two influential articles last year, Paul D. Miller, has been an inspiration to many Conservatives, Libertarians, and Federalists. Dr. Miller teaches public policy at The University of Texas at Austin, a research fellow at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. He previously served on the National Security Council Staff from 2007 through 2009.
We were very pleased when he agreed to answer some questions for us, and we hope you enjoy his answers as much as we have:
- You wrote a few articles that inspired a lot of people. What kind of responses have you had to them? Did you expect people to respond to those articles the way they have?
- I’ve been honored by the response. I don’t think I said anything new or original, I just happened to say it again right at the moment people seemed ready to hear it and act on it. It’s truly inspiring to see people take action of their own initiative. This is what self-government really looks like, and I’m encouraged to see it happening.
- What makes the addition of another party feasible in today’s climate? Is that possible? How does it avoid the traps of other political parties- partisan fights, susceptibility to lobbying, etc?
- The success of a Federalist Party could come in a couple different forms. The most common way that “third” parties succeed is by exerting pressure on the big two parties to take their ideas seriously. I have no doubt a Federalist Party could succeed in this way in today’s climate because there is such an obvious absence of any other voice saying the things that federalists are saying today. There is a large empty space in the American political landscape right now, so when someone stands up and says something obvious (as I think I did with my original articles) there are immediately a lot of people willing to stand up and agree. I think a Federalist Party will find that to be true. The harder way to succeed is to actually supplant one of the other two parties. I’m not sure the conditions exist for that to happen—at least not yet, but I’m willing to wait and see. Much depends on the direction of the Trump administration and how the two parties respond to him over the next few years. But, crucially, we may not have to succeed in the sense of actually replacing one of the other two parties to succeed in reshaping the political landscape and making the government take federalist principles seriously again.
- Is there a path for the Federal Government to return to its Constitutional moorings…in other words, can the cat be walked back into the bag? How?
- I used to be critical of the idea of a Convention of States, but I’ve become persuaded that it could be a viable pathway for meaningful constitutional reform that does not run the risk of a “runaway” convention. I’d encourage folks interested in the federalist movement to also learn about the convention of states movement. I think there is a lot of overlap in the goals of both movements.
- How does one sell federalism and the Constitution to a self-proclaimed progressive? Is it even possible?
- Trump is the best thing that ever happened to federalism, in one sense, because he is a perfect walking, talking argument for why progressives should want to limit government’s power. I think in conversation with our progressive friends, we just keep bringing up Trump (or Nixon) again and again and hammer on the point: do you want to allow Trump and future Trumps to have the kind of power our government currently has? What about a Trump-appointed judiciary? What about a Congress controlled by a party redefined by Trumpism? Progressives will eventually get the point, I think.
- Our organization is composed of every day Americans. All with full time jobs, families, and other commitments. None of us are satisfied with our only political outlet being the vote. What advice would you give to someone who wants to make a difference BEYOND simply voting, but maybe doesn’t have the resources or connections to run for office?
- Sorry to be blunt, but: give money and time. I’m a bit hard-nosed about this. No movement will succeed without real, actual, tangible power, and that means money. Money to hire staff, money to advertise, money to create content. Also, run for office—at the local level. It does take money and connections to run for the US House or Senate, but citizens can still run and win and make a difference in their city council, their homeowner’s association, or their county or precinct. Yes, I know, regular Americans are busy and it’s hard to add another thing to their lives. But if regular Americans don’t run, we’ll be governed by irregular Americans. Which is largely the case today.
- I have come across a lot of individuals who claim the banner of conservatism or libertarianism, and point to the 10th amendment as a means of compromise, specifically on contentious topics like abortion. What is the proper use of the 10th amendment? Is it ok to use it this way?
- I think transferring contentious issues to state control, rather than national control, is the way to defuse them and allow for more local variance—but probably not with abortion. So long as that issue is defined in terms of fundamental rights (life vs. choice), it is not susceptible to compromise or devolution. The Europeans, interestingly, have taken a more pragmatic and less ideological approach to abortion; as a result, they actually have more restrictive laws in place that are less controversial, but there are also no prolife movements of any meaningful strength there.
- Do you see the 14th amendment as protecting procedural due process, substantive due process, or both?
- I’m not a lawyer, so I’m going to have to admit that I don’t know. On the basis of a quick Google search, my immediate, uninformed opinion is that it protects both, but I think I see how progressivism abuses substantive due process. That doesn’t mean substantive due process doesn’t exist, only that we should approach it carefully and guard against the left’s abuse of it.
- Who is your favorite founding father? Why?
- Hamilton, founder of the Federalist Party and co-author of the Federalist Papers.
- What inspired you to get involved in politics?
- My dad inspired me, the 1994 election got me interested, and the fall of the Berlin Wall and 9/11 showed me what’s at stake and the responsibility for citizens to get involved.
- Which Representative would you think is most likely to cane someone on the Senate floor? (For the reader, the history behind this question can be found here)
- Is this a trick question? Because Representatives wouldn’t normally be on the Senate floor. (See, I’m a teacher. I split hairs like this).
We offer our deepest gratitude to Dr. Miller for taking the time to answer some questions on the minds of many Americans. For individuals interested in learning more about federalism, please visit our site at www.thefederalistcoalition.com. If you are interested in joining, send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. Lastly, if you would like to contribute monetarily, please visit our GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/federalistcoalition. You can also follow us on Instagram at federalistcoalition, twitter at @realfedco, and facebook at The Federalist Coalition.