Stephen Miller, senior policy advisor to President-elect Donald Trump, and Sean Spicer, incoming White House press secretary, at Trump Tower in New York. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
by Lisa Mascaro, LA Times, Jan 17, 2017
Too-cool-for-school upper-class students at Santa Monica High scoffed when administrators in 2002 reinstated a daily recitation of the pledge of allegiance. Most students in the liberal enclave slouched in their chairs and chatted over the morning ritual, which was widely viewed as a throwback to an American patriotism that seemed outdated in the multicultural mash-up of L.A.’s Westside.
Not Stephen Miller. Every day, the student body’s best-known and least-liked conservative activist stood at his desk, put his hand over his heart and declared his love of country.That solitary rebellion of conventionalism was an affront to the left-leaning sensitivities of many on the campus, making him a nerd to some, a provocateur to others.
Now Miller’s brand of brash conservatism, fostered during those years at Santa Monica High, is helping to shape the next presidency. How the People’s Republic of Santa Monica, as the city is sometimes jokingly called, gave rise to the skinny-suited man now at Donald Trump’s side is as much a story about one teen’s intellectual tenacity as it is about the backlash to liberalism at the turn of the millennium.
The culturally sensitive environment at Samohi infuriated and ultimately shaped Miller, 31, now a senior advisor to Trump who is helping to draft this week’s inaugural address and will have a coveted West Wing office.
As he was finding his voice at Santa Monica High, Miller bemoaned the school’s Spanish-language announcements, the colorful festivals of minority cultures, and the decline, as he saw it, of a more traditional version of American education.Yet that robust progressive tradition nurtured Miller’s rise, teaching him how to fight for his beliefs, even if it meant he had to stand alone, in his tennis shorts and polo shirts, as he often did.