In this episode, we sit down with newly elected Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.) to discuss her experience of the events of Jan. 6, her response to criticism she received for a recent speech she gave to a mothers’ group, and her vision for America.
This is American Thought Leaders 🇺🇸, and I’m Jan Jekielek.
Jan Jekielek: Congresswoman Mary Miller, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.
Rep. Mary Miller: Well, thank you. It’s great to be here.
Mr. Jekielek: So Congresswoman Miller, terrible, terrible day yesterday, the sixth of January. Horrific scenes, at least one person shot and killed. What are your impressions? What happened? This is your second day in Congress.
Rep. Miller: Well, it was shocking. We were in the House, and we were told that the Capitol had been compromised. And then I believe we were hearing some kind of gunfire, all kinds of things. Several of the members got up and left. Then we were told, “Get your gas masks out,” which I didn’t even know we had them under our seats. I was shaking, undid the gas mask, reading the directions. I mean, I’ve never had this experience before.
Then they said, “Follow us.” The police took us. I think I’m in pretty good shape, but I don’t know if it’s adrenaline or we actually were rushing to the point that I was tired and out of breath, down the stairs, through all the corridors. At one point, we ended up in a room with windows next to a door with no policemen, and I was thinking how we were sitting ducks there.
We weren’t there, just maybe five minutes, and then the police came and said, “Come with us,” again, and rushed us all around and then took us to a secured room with no windows. They did tell us, “Do not tell the media where you are.” We weren’t there very long, and there was an announcement that someone was doing an interview and disclosed our location, which was very disturbing.
I, of course, join my colleagues in denouncing this violence. It’s a very sad day in our nation, and I want to be part of bringing healing to our nation. It’s just very sad, and I support our police, the Capitol Police. I’m sure all of them have been doing all that they can.
Mr. Jekielek: So what are the implications in your mind for the nation? It’s being described as a storming of the Capitol; people broke into the Capitol Building.
Rep. Miller: Well, first of all, I think that we shouldn’t rush to conclusions. So one side’s saying it’s Trump; the other side’s saying it’s Antifa. And personally, I’m going to be slow in making a statement about that. I’m sure that it’s under investigation, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was both. I don’t know.
I do think that our nation is more polarized than ever. And I hate it. I hate the angry rhetoric. And I think that the leaders should try to pull our nation together and not, I know last night when the House members met, the Democrats were accusing us of treason, sedition, insurrection, you know, we caused it. That’s really unhelpful, and it’s a lie. It’s untrue. And I think that we should stop that kind of talk and work together for the good of our nation.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, okay. So you’ve come out of a very different place than Washington, D.C. You’re in the Illinois 15th District, I understand primarily agricultural, and some other industries as well. Tell me a little bit about why you ended up coming to Congress.
Rep. Miller: Okay, well, 2020 was an unusual year, and I say to add to the proof that it’s unusual is the fact that Mary Miller—farmer, mother, grandmother—is now here in Congress. At first when Congressman John Shimkus decided to step down, I was part of a group looking for a conservative to fill his seat or fill that position.
People said, “You know what, you’re the one. We want you to run.” And my comment was, “Well, I’m not a lawyer, and I’m not a politician.” Bill Montgomery, who helped Charlie Kirk get the Turning Point USA off the ground, is a friend of mine, and he encouraged me, “Mary, we need you.”
He said, “You represent the family, and the family is foundational to the stability and well-being of our culture.” And also, I do represent small business and agriculture, and that is foundational to the well-being of our economy. So I did get over my insecurity about not being a lawyer or a politician. I’m thrilled to be here. I’m glad that I’m part of a diverse group of freshmen that are here to fight for the things that have made our country great: faith, family, freedom, rule of law, the Constitution.
Mr. Jekielek: So, you were one of the congressional members that was objecting in the House.
Rep. Miller: Yes.
Mr. Jekielek: Why?
Rep. Miller: Well, because the Constitution has defined how our country is going to run. It gives boundaries to people that are in power and officials. And I really appreciate the wisdom of our Founding Fathers to separate powers and to give boundaries to the people that are in power because we know that absolute power corrupts, and our Constitution is very clear that they gave the authority and power to the legislative branches of the states, to how the times, places, and manner as to how the elections will be handled.
Clearly in all—and it is interesting that it was all—it was pretty much in the key battleground states that they conducted their elections in an unconstitutional manner. So because I care, I know that election integrity is foundational to the well-being and stability of our country. If people lose confidence in our election process, we’ll become a banana republic. And so that’s why I joined patriots across the country in objecting to the electoral college votes from these key states.
Mr. Jekielek: This is, of course, all before all the events of yesterday.
Rep. Miller: Yes.
Mr. Jekielek: Were you expecting this would make a [difference]? What difference could it make? I talked to a number of members who were doing it, they told me, on principle, but they didn’t really think that they could make any difference.
Rep. Miller: I didn’t think it was going to change the outcome. But I didn’t think we should ignore it. And I think it’s such a shame that our institutions failed us and that it came to this place. There was a chance that we could have had another 10 days for investigation, which it didn’t unfold that way. But I think we are setting precedents to not speak up about it. And because I found myself in this position with this opportunity, I did want to speak up and object.
Mr. Jekielek: So you started talking about faith, family, and the Constitution. These are principles which are obviously very meaningful to you, as you describe. So what do you imagine will be your goals here in Congress?
Rep. Miller: Well, over the years, I’ve heard politicians make, in my opinion, outlandish promises to the constituents they represent. They’re going to go change the climate of DC, or this or that. I’m not making any kind of—I don’t think I’m going to do that. But I have promised my constituents one thing: that I will always tell them the truth. I am committed to the conservative platform, even more than to the Republican Party. And I think the conservative platform is fantastic.
With my children over the years, when we would start our day, we would start with a prayer. And we would ask God to show us the opportunities to overcome evil with good. And so for me being here, I’m just going to look for each opportunity like it’s the same mission, to overcome evil with good.
Mr. Jekielek: Congresswoman Miller, very quick out of the blocks, only here a few days. You are being criticized for some remarks that you made at an event fairly recently. And basically for the interests of our audience, I wanted to give the opportunity to hear these remarks for themselves.
Rep. Miller [speaking at event]: Thank you, Kim, and the organizers of Women for America or Moms for America. I want to tell you that 2020 has been a very unusual year. And more proof of it is that Mary Miller, the farmer, mother of seven, grandma of 17, has been elected to Congress.
The Squad claims that they represent all women in America, but we know that they don’t represent us or the millions of women across America that hold that faith, family, and freedom is what’s made our country great. We should be unashamed to represent our values. The family is foundational to the stability of our country.
When I was asked to run, my response was, “Well, I’m not a politician, and I’m not a lawyer.” But Bill Montgomery, who was instrumental in getting Turning Point USA started, said, “Mary, we need you because you represent the family.” Each generation has the responsibility to teach and train the next generation.
If we win a few elections, we’re still going to be losing unless we win the hearts and minds of our children. This is the battle. Hitler was right on one thing. He said, “Whoever has the youth has the future.” Our children are being propagandized. Today, I want to encourage you to do two things: fill your children’s minds with what is true and right and noble. And then they can overcome evil with good because they can actually discern between what is evil and what is good.
Mr. Jekielek: Okay, so now we’ve heard the clip. I think it seems pretty self-explanatory to me. But why don’t you expand on it?
Rep. Miller: Sure. Well, I was thrilled to talk to this group because it’s a group of mothers and that’s my wheelhouse, that’s my passion, children. I believe children are the greatest resource of our nation, and they’re going to determine the future. I want to motivate people not to be passive and to be aware that there are people and groups that want their children’s heart, souls, and minds, and that our kids need to be full of what’s good, true, right, and noble.
They need to recognize good. They need to know what is evil and what is good. There are people in groups today and, like they have been in the past, that will say what is good is evil and what is evil is good. And so I was trying to warn the people: don’t be passive.
Mr. Jekielek: So obviously, the education system is very important in this, right?
Rep. Miller: Yes.
Mr. Jekielek: Whichever way you choose to educate your kids.
Rep. Miller: Yes. I’ve been involved in education—public, private, and homeschool education. I’m for excellent education. I believe God created each child with a gift. And I’m not for a cookie cutter type of education, but I want our children to get the basics and then also be full of good ideas. We can’t leave them, let their minds be a vacuum for the media. They need to know true history. They need to know what leads to a stable and productive society.
Mr. Jekielek: So you’ve joined the House Freedom Caucus.
Rep. Miller: Yes.
Mr. Jekielek: So how did that come about?
Rep. Miller: Well, they supported me and my campaign. I had an interview with them early on. And I am not what I would say just a Republican. I am a conservative. And I do represent my district. Our district is conservative. They’re pro-life, pro-family, pro-production. They want limited government, and I will support rule of law. And I will support a limited government. I think wherever the private sector can do things versus the government, it’s better.
Mr. Jekielek: So Congresswoman Miller, you’ve mentioned multiple times how family is very important to you.
Rep. Miller: Yes.
Mr. Jekielek: And you have seven kids, apparently. So tell me a little bit about how the family is under assault, as you’re alleging.
Rep. Miller: When the government makes it hard for people to provide for their households or to be productive, passing legislation that makes it hard for their small businesses to thrive and even now, with the country shut down, that’s a stress on the family. So I think the role of the government should be to make it easy for families to survive. And for my district, I hope to promote things that bring economic opportunities back to our district. So that’s number one.
And then also, where the government is intrusive into our lives, I’m for freedom. People should be able to choose how they want to live their lives and raise their children, educate their children. And so I will promote freedom in those things.
Mr. Jekielek: So what legislative work is first and foremost to you, then?
Rep. Miller: Well, I think the first thing we need to do is get the economy open again, get the country open, and as safely as people deem it necessary, depending on their situations, and get the children back in school. Definitely.
Mr. Jekielek: And why are you so sure that this is the direction?
Rep. Miller: Well, it’s going to destroy our economy, and just in our area, people want to get their restaurants back open. They want to get back to work. They want their children in school full time.
There’s corresponding negative effects to the lockdown and to having children out of school. Suicide rates are up, bankruptcies are up, depression, substance abuse. I think we’re going to look back on this and say, “We weren’t counting the cost of actually locking things down like we have.”
Now, I do think there’s people that should be afraid, if they’re in the high risk group, they should do what they need to do to protect themselves. And I think we should support them. Like if people are afraid to get out and get groceries, I know health departments are willing, and churches or neighbors, to help people not have to get out.
I’m glad the vaccine’s out for people that think they’re in such a high risk group that this is necessary. But I don’t think one size fits all is wise. Our children need to be allowed to get back to life. I know, I’ve had two teenagers that have struggled. Prom was canceled, sports were canceled, graduation was canceled, there’s no place to go. And this is hard on the youth of our country, and they’re not at a high risk. So I think that we should allow people to get back to work, back to school, back to normal life as much as possible.
Mr. Jekielek: We’re going to finish up in a moment here. I want to go back to what happened at the Capitol. I think the nation is reeling from this to some extent, to a great extent. A lot of us have been discussing. It’s just unbelievably difficult for all sorts of folks out there. In your mind, what are the next steps forward here?
Rep. Miller: Well, I think we should, number one, not go and attack each other. You know, “This group caused it. It was this group.” Let the investigations unfold before we rush to judgments on things. I think we should support our police. And I think that we should, I think the thing that makes life rich and rewarding is our relationships. And I think we should try to invest in each other, in our neighbors and our relationships we have at work and through our faith, churches, and different things like that. I think we should try to build each other up and invest in each other and not jump to conclusions and falsely accuse people or accuse people before the investigations are done.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, Mary Miller, any final thoughts?
Rep. Miller: Yes. My main goal is to serve my constituents. And I’m very excited about the team I’ve hired both in D.C. and in the district. We are here for them. We want to, in a timely manner, help them with their issues. I’m here to represent them. I’m here to be a servant of the people. And I do have to say that I’ve spent my life behind the scenes in a role of serving my family and my community and other people. I believe God has prepared me for this, and I’m excited for the opportunity.
Mr. Jekielek: Such a pleasure to have you on.
Rep. Miller: Thank you.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.