Joseph Wade Miller heroically served his country in the United States Marine Corps. And as if that wasn’t already “Texan” enough, the Oklahoma native had this to say about why he chose to make the Texas his home:
“A lot of states fly their flags lower than the United States flag, which I never really understood. But not Texans. People here consider their state as important as the country itself, and it’s their enthusiastic embrace of individual liberty and federalism that I most admire.”
This cultural DNA is in stark contrast to what Miller personally witnessed during his deployment in Iraq. There, he says, it was clear democracy and liberty were unfamiliar concepts.
“Native people living there, they had no concept of democracy or of a free society; they were alien concepts. A nation’s culture must have a certain core competency, some foundational understanding of freedom, limited government, and free markets, in order for liberty to be embraced and safeguarded.”
This experience motivated Miller to continue his civic service in the political arena back in the states, after leaving the Corps. His conservative worldview has been fostered and reinforced as long as he can remember.
He was born just two years before Ronald Reagan was elected President. But as a student of both philosophy and history, Miller vigorously rejects blind partisanship.
“Neither political party is truly representing the principles our country was founded upon,” Wade said. “Nor are they looking out for the best interest of the American people. That’s precisely why I identified so strongly with the Tea Party uprising in 2009; because it was based on ideas and policy, not party loyalty.”
Miller is well known amongst grassroots Texans as a conservative firebrand. He now runs the day-to-day operation of Heritage Action’s Sentinel Program – a non-profit citizen-engagement arm of the Heritage Foundation – in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. The Sentinel Program was started to help train and equip a new generation of effective citizen leaders who could then empower their community to hold elected officials accountable to their conservative campaign promises.
Miller himself spends most of his time researching policy reforms, networking with grassroots leaders, public speaking, and training activists. He helps train citizens to organize Town Hall meetings, write letters to the editor, and grow their social media presence.
“Some people think I’m a policy analyst, and I am. But really, I’m the anti-lobbyist; a real citizen advocate. And by that, I mean I help empower citizens to get informed and active so they can make their voices heard. After all, no lobbyist in D.C. is hired to represent the interests of everyday Americans. Constituents must hold their representatives accountable.”
Many Texans are intimidated by politics, or simply don’t believe they can make a real difference. Wade has some basic advice:
“Reach out to organizations such as Heritage Action or Empower Texans and ask to be plugged into local grassroots organizations. It’s really that simple, and we are happy to do it!”
Miller had one warning: Americans need to be involved in what he calls “the long game.” He says politics is analogous to attrition warfare.
“While opponents to conservative reform want activists to think their cause is futile, the reality is they’re absolutely terrified citizens won’t get demoralized. So their strategy is to delay action as long as possible, hoping conservatives tire and return to their daily lives. They’re trying to rewind the clock back before the 2009 uprising.”
The conservative uprising in 2009 was organic, but unorganized, and had to start from scratch. When the next big activism wave comes, which Miller says we saw somewhat during the 2016 presidential election, conservatives need to have the infrastructure built and ready to engage these new activists.
Miller echoed what many Texas conservatives already have discovered at the state and local level. “Republicans who are not advancing the policy priorities of the party need to have their seats filled by principled conservatives.”
The long game, he says, is ultimately state and local involvement, which will result in the training of an army of citizen-candidates who voters can ultimately send to Washington to limit federal power. Texans are proud to have a patriot such as Miller in the fight for a better Texas.