As senior policy adviser to President Donald Trump, Stephen Miller has played an important part in shaping federal immigration policy from day one, and is considered responsible for much of the nativist rhetoric Trump is known for. During the 69-hour-long government shutdown, Miller was reportedly one of two people who interfered with bipartisan attempts at negotiation. Stephen Miller is clearly influential, and he’s undeniably important. But is he liked? When he goes to bed after a long day of scheming, does he feel loved? A wise man once said, “Real friends, how many of us?” (That man was Kanye West.) Basically, my question is, does Stephen Miller have any friends?
In a 2016 profile of Miller for Politico, reporter Julia Ioffe described Miller as a “deeply unsettling figure, even to many in his own party.” This profile also teaches you that Miller, who has worked “for some of the most politically fringe figures on the Hill” and is so racist his opinions “raised the eyebrows of even conservative Republicans,” is not particularly cool or well-liked. Being cool doesn’t necessarily mean you have friends; this is the primary lesson from the 1988 movie Heathers, which is about high school cliques and also murder, as well as the 2004 movie Mean Girls, which is about high school cliques without the murder. Post-shutdown, even conservatives like Lindsey Graham think Miller is difficult to work with and kind of sucks. Graham said Miller had “been an outlier for years” when it comes to immigration, but it’s also possible that Miller is an outlier in other situations, like the situation where most people have at least one friend and he seemingly does not.
There is no “Personal Life” section on Miller’s Wikipedia page, the first place any hard-hitting journalist should go to for answers, presumably because he doesn’t have a fulfilling personal life. Since Miller is a “millennial” — he’s 32 — an easy way to determine whether he has friends is by looking at his social media accounts. He only follows 55 people on Twitter, many of whom are either his colleagues or accounts for various Trump properties around the world. He has not tweeted since 2016, an eternity in online years. Not being active on Twitter is not necessarily indicative of anti-social behavior; on the contrary, people who are too online are the ones you need to be worried about. It’s just kind of weird, is all I’m saying.
Miller also does not seem to have a presence on Instagram, a platform that is primarily used for (subtly, humbly) bragging about having friends and getting brunch with your friends and going to that restaurant where they serve you milkshakes with a whole piece of cheesecake as a topping, also with your friends. If he does have an Instagram, it’s private and difficult to find — a finsta (fake Instagram, real friends only, very exclusive) with no rinsta (real Instagram; your public face; anyone can follow it because having followers makes you look cool) counterpart — which suggests a level of privacy I can’t even fathom a millennial wanting. Other young members of the administration have Instagram accounts: Ivanka’s Instagram is a key part of her Fascist Barbie brand, and communications director Hope Hicks has a private Insta account that has fewer than 400 followers, a respectable number for someone with a protected profile.
I looked through more than 100 pictures of Stephen Miller on Getty to see if he has ever been photographed with anyone who could be called a “friend.” Here he is clumsily following Ivanka, who is technically a colleague and not a friend because, for some reason, she is also a White House adviser. Here he is at a bizarre reenactment of the Last Supper, or maybe just a meeting. Here is a picture of him and several other White House aides including Steve Bannon, who is not a friend — Miller recently told CNN’s Jake Tapper that Bannon is “out of touch with reality,” which is not the kind of thing you say about a friend, at least not on national television. Here is a set of photos of Miller brooding, which I think tells you all you need to know.
Even Miller’s family members don’t like him, according to a February 2017 BuzzFeed report. “I wish Stephen career success and personal happiness, however I cannot endorse his political preferences,” Miller’s uncle David Glosser wrote in a Facebook post. Other family members expressed relief at the fact that they didn’t share a last name with Miller, which would be kind of sad — the guy’s own family doesn’t even tolerate him — if it wasn’t so fucking funny.
“My name is Stephen Miller, I am from Los Angeles, and I like guns.”
People who read Machiavelli in high school and became Republicans when they grew up will tell you it is better to be feared than loved. Those people are wrong and typically also do not have many friends. I have no proof that Miller has ever read The Prince, but he did turn into a Republican in high school despite being raised by a pair of California liberals, so I would not be surprised if that were the case. (Miller actually became a conservative after reading Guns, Crime, and Freedom by National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre, according to Ioffe’s 2016 profile.) When he was in high school, Miller reportedly lobbied administrators to reinstate the Pledge of Allegiance, a sign of an early narc. While running for student government, Miller delivered a speech where he said he was “sick and tired of being told to pick up my trash when we have plenty of janitors who are paid to do it for us.” He was booed. (The Washington Post tracked down exactly one (1) friend of Miller’s from the time, who said the speech was “a senior prank.” There is no indication of whether that person is Miller’s friend to this day.) According to a 2017 New York Times profile of Miller, he called his friend before ninth grade started to inform him they could no longer be associated because of the friend’s “Latino heritage” and “acne-specked face.” Several former classmates told the Times that Miller made racist — sorry, “racially tinged” — comments in high school, which is not a nice thing to do, especially not if you want friends.
In college, Miller reportedly introduced himself to potential friends by saying “My name is Stephen Miller, I am from Los Angeles, and I like guns,” which is an easy way to get branded as someone you should not be friends with. He lost an election for dorm president, presumably because the good people at Duke University did not want to vote for a guy who lobbied against getting a birthday present for the building’s janitor. Last summer, nearly 3,500 Duke alumni signed a letter denouncing Miller’s political views. One of his Duke classmates described him as a creep. “You wouldn’t really believe the number of stories where he would offend… a young woman with whatever broad tirade against liberalism and free thought he had, then, a couple of weeks later, ask that same woman who had offended, usually publicly, out on a date.”
Miller did have one friend in college: The now-prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer, who described him to Mother Jones as “tougher than any cuck.” But Miller was quick to disavow Spencer. “I have absolutely no relationship with Mr. Spencer. I completely repudiate his views, and his claims are 100 percent false,” he said in 2016. Maybe Miller is pushing people away because he doesn’t know how to express gratitude for the people who stand by him no matter what, as good friends do. Or, more likely, he knows the only thing worse than looking like someone with no friends is looking like someone whose only friend is a neo-Nazi.