Why Didn’t We Riot? A man is in the Land of Trump, a columnist tells us about her disappointment with the late-term GOP nominee
Issac Bailey is a journalist and the Batten Professor for Communication Studies at Davidson College. He has a new book called “Why Didn’t We Riot? A man is in the land of Trump. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. CNN has more opinions on it.
And though Haley’s embrace of Trumpism was undoubtedly a mistake, there were early indications from her time as governor that her priority was not always the people of South Carolina, but her own political aspirations.
The luncheon was being hosted in the wake of a scandal surrounding South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who hid his mistress from his staff while hiking the Appalachian Trail. I asked if Haley would resign as governor if she made as much mistake as Sanford did, after listening to her stump speech.
She was the governor of South Carolina and she never messed up like him or other presidential hopefuls. But she messed up when she decided to embrace Donald Trump – rather than keeping him at arm’s length – providing further proof that even the most talented Republicans were willing to bend the knee to the former president.
Haley is a candidate for the GOP nomination. She is one of many potential candidates that have to justify to voters their opposition to Trump and then their acceptance of him, since they are running against him.
And despite Haley’s ambitions, former President Donald Trump is still the top contender for the nomination. His most loyal supporters, which still number in the millions, won’t abandon him just because of a loss in 2020 – which many of them falsely believe was stolen from him – and a bad 2022 midterm cycle for Trump-backed candidates.
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The administration told me that there were better options, but it was obvious to close watchers that it was more about political expedience than anything else.
About 40% of the state’s uninsured adults would have received health coverage under an expansion, as well as low-wage workers in retail and hospitality who are concentrated in Horry County, home to resort destination Myrtle Beach, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
A White House study claimed that expansion could have saved many lives in the state. And a University of South Carolina study estimated the state could have seen an additional 44,000 jobs added by 2020 with the multibillion dollar federal investment from a Medicaid expansion.
Indeed, Haley, a self-avowed “pro-life” advocate, stood in the way of life-saving Obamacare – exposing her hypocrisy on an issue that has come to define the modern-day Republican Party.
Haley proposed a tax swap, a lowering of the top marginal income tax rate for the wealthiest South Carolinians in exchange for an increase in the gas fee that everyone pays. The final budget proposal was still pushing for tax cuts. She didn’t get her way a lot.
Haley may not bring it up much anyway. While the Charleston shooting was a part of her announcement video, the push to take down the Confederate flag was notably absent.
After White supremacist Dylann Roof massacred innocent Black churchgoers at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston in 2015, Haley took the lead on the decision to take the Confederate battle flag off the South Carolina State House.
Still, by making the decision to remove the flag at the time she did, Haley successfully sold the idea that she cared. That decision, paired with her actions on key GOP priorities – from health care to taxes – positioned her well within the party. It was Haley who was asked to give the response to the State of the Union in 2016 as a sign of confidence in her abilities.
The US ambassador to the United Nations would be the kind of foreign policy experience she would need for a presidential run if Haley were to decide to run. She could plausibly claim to have taken the position to serve her country – not Trump.
Her approach seemed to work. She had good standing among the Trump supporters and was able to avoid alienating those who thought of themselves as moderates and Never Trumpers. I was interested in what she had done because I had just sworn off the Republican Party.
This is another particular nod to unity. Haley is the first woman of color to be a major candidate for the Republican nomination, and she acknowledges her difference…and then immediately blasts Democrats as racially divisive, referencing the 1619 Project and progressive lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Haley defended South Carolina against allegations that the flying of the flag of traitors who did not want black people to stay in the country was hurting the state’s image. You lose version of identity politics.
One clear theme of Nikki Haley’s presidential announcement is unity. Over and over, her video references brought people together.
“We turned away from fear toward God and the values that still make our country the freest and greatest in the world,” she said, over video of herself and fellow leaders joining hands in the wake of that crime.
“For those who wish to show their respect for the flag on their private property. No one will stand in your way. But the statehouse is different,” she said shortly after the shooting. We are in a moment of state unity without any intention of moving the flag from the Capitol grounds.
He thinks that it was not on her priority list in the second term of her term. She should get credit for moving quickly because of the moment.
“The KKK came to South Carolina from out of state to protest on our statehouse grounds,” she told a crowd at a Rubio event. “We saw and looked at true hate in the eyes last year in Charleston. I will not stop until we fight a man that chooses not to disavow the KKK. That is not part of the party. That isn’t who we should have as president. We will not allow that in our country,” she added, to loud cheers.
Trump put racial resentment at the forefront of American politics, across issues from immigration to policing to education. And Trump support has been correlated with certain racist beliefs.
The negative reaction to her interview with Glenn Beck was due to her saying that Dylann Roof had a racist meaning to the flag.
“And where does Dylann Roof get it from?” she asks. “Where does he get this association, the Confederate flag, with white supremacy and racist ideology? It doesn’t appear to be in a straight line. He didn’t steal anything.”
The situation was tense because Trump supported taking down the Confederate flag in South Carolina, but later was upset that NASCAR banned the flag from its events.
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“I was the proud daughter of Indian immigrants. Not black, not white. I was different,” she says. My mom always told me to focus on the similarities instead of the differences.
Even though Democrats are the enemy, casting them in a negative light will not unify all Republicans who are tired of what the GOP has become. Doug Brannon is a former Republican lawmaker in South Carolina who led the 2015 charge to remove the Confederate flag.
“Mr. Trump gave people license to say things that before him they didn’t feel they could say,” Brannon told NPR. He gave them a source of strength and they were willing to use it.
Brannon sees Trump as a symptom of a broken GOP — “I don’t think there’s a Republican party anymore” — and said he didn’t know yet whether he would vote for a Republican or Democrat in 2024.
Haley is often mistaken for a moderate but now she may appeal more to primary voters in a swath of red states, such as South Carolina, because she is more extreme.
“The battle is between Republicans in the primaries. And you don’t pay any penalty for playing to that extreme-right ideology that is replicated at the national level in states like Florida and Texas,” she explained.
“It’s just going to score her points with people who want the Republican Party to return to some normalcy. She wanted to know how many groups are left in the Republican Party.