Each dorm hall at the college was considered its own “city” and, as you might expect, high school boys conducted government in predictable ways. Our city proposed “jailing” anyone who dared to use our bathroom without paying a “tax.” (Our jail, if I recall, would also be in the bathroom, which was punishment enough.) There was an “assassination attempt” on an elected “mayor” who fell out of favor. Someone wrote “BOMB” on a piece of paper and slipped it under his door, an act that was followed by a debate over whether the device had, in fact, “killed” him and if he could still hold legitimate power in his new state of non-existence. By the end of the week, our cities went to “battle” with one another, which was fought in the form of a midnight brawl in the common area that left many of us with bruises. It was great fun.
This was the environment into which Miller thrust himself headlong and was very successful.
Miller and I were placed into the same “county” and he ran for a seat on the Board of Supervisors. Before the election, my fellow county-mates and I gathered in the shade of trees to hear speeches from the students up for election. While most speeches were mundane and forgettable, Miller stood out.
A lanky young man who looked serious beyond his years, Miller began by shouting his case for why we should make him our leader. Roaring at the top of his lungs while he paced across the grass, Miller took us by surprise when he called for a fierce campaign of espionage against our neighboring counties.
Unlike his competitors, Miller didn’t speak in clichéd generalities. He had a plan. He declared that he would organize a “black ops” force to spy on and infiltrate the other counties in an effort to — I suppose? — sabotage them. To Miller, the other boys in the camp weren’t here to cooperate in the spirit of forming a more perfect union, but were to be dominated. They weren’t “us.” They were the enemy.
His raucous speech was a tremendous success. Miller knew his voting base: A hoard of testosterone-fueled teenage boys itching for something to believe in, even if it was just made up. Miller whipped us into a frenzy, and the crowd, myself included, cheered on the ridiculousness.
Once he had most of us firmly on his side, Miller let loose his catch-phrase.
“It’s Miller Time!” he declared, a reference to beer that seemed edgy to many of us at 16. His branding also benefited from his shared name with the California rock band.
Miller was elected with a resounding majority.