Sarasota-Manatee's former U.S. Rep. Dan Miller served 10 years in Congress and accompanied President Bush on Air Force One on September 11, 2001. A fiscal conservative who opposed corporate welfare, he battled the powerful Florida sugar lobby and was easily re-elected four times. Since retiring in 2003, he's has been working with University of South Florida to create the Institute for Public Policy and Leadership on the Sarasota-Manatee campus. If approved by the trustees this spring, the institute will open in fall 2004, offering coursework and degrees in public administration and leadership, hosting national and local seminars and roundtables, and initiating research.
1. What have you been doing since you left Congress a year ago?
I'm enjoying life now. Last fall, I was a fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. I taught a study group called "Congress 101," which was a fascinating experience. This semester I'm teaching one course at USF. It's called "Public Policy" but it's really about politics. Right now we're talking about the presidential election. I taught here at USF back in the late '70s. That was my original career and I am enjoying it again.
2. Why did you help start the public policy institute?
One of my goals is to get young people to see that public service is a noble profession. I was never in politics until I ran for Congress in 1992, and it surprised a lot of people when I entered. But you can enter politics. It may not be pretty at times, but with all of its warts, it really is a good system of government. We have a wealth of talent in this area. I know of three retired U.S. senators living right here in Sarasota. A lot of them vacation here. We can tap into that resource at the institute.
3. What distinguishes the 13th Congressional District?
It doesn't have a military base. It doesn't have some huge employer always wanting you to fight for this or fight for that. It gives you the freedom to advocate for what you believe is the right thing.
4. If you could go back and change one Congressional policy today, what would you change?
As a fiscal conservative, to see these massive deficits now is a great disappointment. We have to address entitlements and put some constraints on spending. Republicans are as much the big spenders as Democrats, unfortunately. It's not bad spending, but you have to live within a budget.
5. Do you see yourself running for office again?
I have no interest in running for office again. Ten years of my life was about right. At this stage I am enjoying the opportunity to teach, spending my summers in cool weather in North Carolina and then returning back to Bradenton, hopefully teaching again.