In general, I believe serving as a governor for six years and then at the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations are excellent credentials and preparation for serving as president of the United States. Nikki Haley also spent three terms in the South Carolina House of Representatives, so she has legislative experience which can be helpful in dealing with Congress. I like that she was treasurer and president of the National Association of Women Business Owners, and more recently she’s been on the corporate board of Boeing, so she has some insight into several echelons of the business world.
Naturally I don’t have much sympathy with Haley’s politics since she’s a Republican, but I don’t think she’d be out of her depth as president. And that’s comforting because I definitely believe George W. Bush and Donald Trump were out of their depth, and I think an argument can be made that Ronald Reagan was winging it for most of his two terms in office. He had some instincts and gifts that helped him compensate, but the Gipper’s lack of knowledge about the government and the world compelled him to delegate to an unhealthy degree, and it led to predictably poor results.
Haley plans to officially announce her candidacy for president in Charleston, South Caroling on February 15. And I welcome her entry into the competition. But I am a bit confused about how she expects to win the nomination.
The Republican Party is currently a white nationalist conservative Christian fascist movement, and Haley is a religious minority, a racial minority, and a woman. The Republican voters are currently organized around a general panic that non-Christians are taking over, that non-whites are overrunning the country through both legal and illegal immigration, and that children are becoming confused about their gender and sexual identities and roles. Haley, a Sikh child of south Asian Indian-American immigrants, is the embodiment of this panic.
Her strengths lie in foreign policy experience and establishmentarian business credibility. This is the role George Herbert Walker Bush played, but that kind of Republican is not what the MAGA horde is looking for in a leader.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has a much clearer path to the nomination both because he’s a white male Christian, and because he’s organizing his message around protecting traditional white male dominance.
Haley will play along with the anti-woke messaging of the GOP because it would be politically suicidal to do anything else, but she’ll never be convincing in the role.
Against Trump, it’s already clear that she’ll argue that it’s time for a new (younger) generation of leadership, and she can get some good mileage out of that argument. But she won’t be the only younger candidate challenging the disgraced ex-president for the nomination.
Haley will lower herself in a vain effort to win the hearts and minds of virulent misogynists, racists and religious bigots, and in the process she’ll wipe out any appeal she’d otherwise have to the tolerant middle that is just looking for pragmatic and competent leadership.
The current GOP cannot be led by a decent person, and anyone who would seriously attempt to lead it must first abandon all decency. It can’t be rescued from within.
But it might be possible to wage a third-party candidacy from the center-right. In my opinion, Haley has already debased herself too much just to get to this point, but I can imagine her running a serious independent campaign based on real issues.
Mitt Romney might have done the same instead of setting the land speed record for lying. But Romney knew winning the nomination required him to endorse the alternate reality set up by a white nationalist fascist movement. It was an odd choice for a Mormon, but ambition was more important to him than moral rectitude.
Basically, I understand why people want to be president, but if you want to be president to do some good, you really shouldn’t run as the standard bearer of a blackshirt army, especially if you’re a religious minority. If you’re a religious minority, you should be terrified of fascist movements and work to defeat them.
I can’t help but see Haley’s decision to run as a Republican as indicative of a fatal character defect. I don’t see how she can win or why she would want to win. I understand her ambition, and I could even see her being a half-decent conservative president of a center-right party. But I think her campaign is doomed from its inception because it’s flawed in its conception.