Standing Up

Tamen Miller

Tamen Miller ’12 is a stand-up comic, an economics scholar, a former Americorps volunteer, and, he says, “a born antagonist.” As a political activist, delegate to the Washington State Republican Convention and the leader of Evergreen’s Conservative Support Group, Miller has had plenty of opportunities to sharpen all of those skills.

“The best thing our group did this year was to put a face on the conservative side of debates,” Miller says. “We wanted to educate people and challenge people in a constructive and sometimes humorous way.”

Born and raised in Kansas, Miller began working in politics right out of high school, starting with a campaign to get Ralph Nader on the state ballot. In 2012, he and fellow Greener Matthew Hayward were elected delegates to the Washington State Republican Convention, where they supported candidate Ron Paul—a stance that became controversial at conventions across the country. But for Miller, participating in the process was inspiring. “We were in the minority, so that was intimidating, but we were very, very loud. It got very heated. Matthew was a delegate to the national convention, and that was heated as well,” he says. “But in some ways, the state convention was very inspiring because so many young people were there and part of it.”

Miller came to Washington as an Americorps volunteer teaching in a rural public school. “I had a lot of time on my hands, and was reading two or three books a week,” he says. One of the books he read was Congressman Paul’s End the Fed, whose discussion of monetary policy and central banking led Miller to pursue economics. “I was instantly passionate about things I’d never thought about.”

During his time at Evergreen, he read books from many different points of view on the economy and politics. Beginning the Conservative Support Group on campus was his way of talking about issues where people on all sides of the spectrum could come together. “We wanted to be an ironic group, not just a political group,” he explains. “We really used humor to get people to listen and think about issues in different ways.” One such activity was a mock game show, “Van vs. Ann,” where students were given various statements and had to guess whether they were from commentator Ann Coulter or activist Van Jones.

Miller now makes his home in Olympia, and was elected as a Republican Precinct Committee Officer this year, where he works with the executive committee and gives a voice to his part of the conservative movement. “Complaining doesn’t do a lot of good,” he says. “We need to take positions where we can affect change.”