MOSHE HILL OPINION COLUMNS FEBRUARY 15 2023
As forecast over the past few weeks, Former South Carolina Governor and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley has officially declared her candidacy for the Republican nomination to become President of the United States. This makes Haley the second candidate after former President Trump himself announced his candidacy late last year. While much speculation has occurred about the upcoming GOP battle, this is the first shot fired to try to take down the Trump juggernaut.
This will not be an easy road for Haley, even if she remains the only challenger to Trump (which is highly unlikely), yet it is necessary for the Republican Party to move on from Trump himself. Trump, for all his flaws, positively changed the Party from one that stood aside and allowed the Democrats to dominate the culture and the government. The GOP dominated the culture for a quarter of a century, starting with the Reagan revolution until the mid-2000s, when war fatigue and poor policy recommendations by President George W. Bush led to a cultural movement that swept Barack Obama into office. Obama used his power and influence to drag the culture to the Left, and Trump was a backlash to that.
Trump was also a wakeup call to the Republican Party itself, which shook the cobwebs off and realized how out of touch they were with their own base and the American people. Trump’s “punch-back” attitude and labeling of the media as “enemy of the People” resonated with so many who were told that they were racist and sexist because they didn’t support Obama or Hillary Clinton. Republicans no longer cowered in the face of such accusations, but instead dismissed them for being as ridiculous as they are.
Despite this – or maybe because of it – Trump is far too divisive and toxic a personality to be the face of the GOP he helped create. He will not, however, ride gracefully into the sunset, so he must be defeated at the primary ballot box. Should he make it past the primary into the general election, Republicans must unite behind him to defeat the Democrats; but until that happens, we have a choice on who should be our candidate.
Haley is the first chance to do so, and as far as candidates go, she is a fairly solid choice. Obviously, the number one choice for nearly every Republican looking to move past Trump is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is the chocolate and peanut butter of politics – creating the perfect combination. DeSantis was cooked up in a Republican laboratory to be President, but he could only succeed in a post-Trump era. Haley is no DeSantis, yet she is as strong a candidate as we currently have.
Haley has an impressive resume. She has Legislative Branch experience, having been elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2004. She has Executive Branch experience from her time as Governor. She has Foreign Policy experience from her time at the United Nations. She can hold her own against the media and has certainly not cowered in the face of enormous political or personal pressure in many of those roles.
During her time as Governor of South Carolina, Haley implemented a number of initiatives aimed at improving the state’s economy and education system. One of her most significant accomplishments was the establishment of the South Carolina Department of Administration, which restructured the state’s bureaucracy and eliminated several redundant agencies, saving the state millions of dollars in the process. She also signed into law a bill that reformed the state’s public education system, increasing teacher pay and expanding school choice for parents and students.
During her tenure as the US Ambassador to the United Nations, she advocated for greater scrutiny of Iran’s nuclear program and played a key role in securing sanctions against North Korea in response to its ballistic missile and nuclear tests. She also spearheaded efforts to reform the United Nations, calling for greater transparency and accountability in the organization’s operations and advocating for the expulsion of countries with a history of human rights abuses from the UN Human Rights Council. That, along with her unwavering support of the sovereignty of Israel, makes her a formidable candidate.
However, Haley’s time in the Trump administration was not without controversy. In her memoir With All Due Respect, she criticized President Trump for his handling of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, writing that he had “missed an opportunity to unite the country.” She also accused former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former Chief of Staff John Kelly of trying to undermine the president and suggested that they were disloyal to him.
Her comments about the president drew a sharp rebuke from Trump, who called her “very weak” and said that she had “embarrassed” herself and her country. Trump is framing the candidacy as a lack of loyalty to him, as Haley had previously mentioned that she would not run if Trump was running.
This is actually what is going to prevent her from getting very far in the primary, assuming once again that she will not be the only contender. The pro-Trump voters will not vote for anyone except Trump, so that loses between 20 and 30 percent of the base. There are plenty of voters who will see her rhetoric on Trump as flip-flopping either for him or against him, depending on their own personal views. Haley’s only chance is if she is the only alternative to Trump, which she likely won’t be.
However, a Haley candidacy is a positive sign for the Republican Party. Remember, in 2016, before Trump took the country by storm, Jeb Bush was the frontrunner. In 2012, Mitt Romney was the candidate. It is a very good thing that those personalities are left behind. The main thing that any Republican needs to have is a strong spine against the media, the bureaucracy, and the Swamp. Haley has had that in the past. As long as she maintains that, she will have a future in any Republican administration.