“I Fight for the Right to Republican Party!”
Nikki Haley is a running to become president of the United States for a movement that no longer exists: the Anti-Maga Republican Party. Sure, this organisation believes it is the true political heir of Abraham Lincoln but is an empty vessel making a lot of noise and a regular supplier of the swamp Republican talking heads on CNN and NBC. The only show in town on the right is MAGA and supporting the Donald Trump. There is nothing else.
Waving the flag for anti-Trumpists is Nikki Haley. To big up her back story she has reminded everyone that she is the daughter of Indian parents. Her dark skin isn't from spending too much time in the sun but her natural colour - perhaps to contrast with the lurid orange hue of Trump. Indeed, the Republicans look like a rainbow multi ethnic rainbow coalition compared to the pasty faced president Joe Biden and his Democratic Party.
It was perhaps no surprise that Haley has found herself as the last standard bearer of the old Republicans. Her more polished performances on television in comparison to Republican rivals like an animatronic Ron DeSantis or the barrel shaped Chris Christie did help her stand out. As long as you weren't forced to listen to her voice, Haley was appearing more human-relatable compared to anyone else.
Perhaps there is an air of artficiality about Haley. First of all, she has changed her name. Nikki isn't really Nikki but Nimarata Randhawa, born to parents from India who had initially moved to Canada before crossing the open border into the USA to start a clothing business. Nikki's parents are academics and are Sikhs. Her father wears a turban which the MAGA Republicans think he is also a Muslim.
Haley was brought up as a Sikh but has also become a Christian via her marriage to former National Guard soldier Michael Haley, a former fellow student at Clemson University in South Carolina. This joint religious identity has been Hayley's attempt to receive support from the evangelicals and hard nosed protestants who would otherwise have looked suspiciously at a non-Christian Republican running for office.
As the daughter of immigrants one would have expected her first political move would have been to the Democrats. Instead Nikki came out as a Republican early on, though not a radical as such. Her actual inspiration to run for political office was Hillary Clinton! Haley said that her opponents in her own party were dinosaurs who tended to die in office than retire even when senile. Haley's target was the limpet Larry Koon. She beat him in the Republican primary.
Haley was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives for a deep red district from 2005 to 2011. She supported lower taxes and for ill health for her constituents on the standard Republican party platform. Her views on abortion were also pretty standard Republican, though 'moderate' in the sense that she wanted more restrictions rather than an outright ban.
Governor of South Carolina
In 2010 Haley won the Governorship of South Carolina. One of her biggest supporters had been the Utah senator Mitt Romney. Perhaps because they were both religious outsiders to the Republican Protestant Christian core of the party (Romney is a Mormon), he tapped her for running with him as his vice president nomination in the 2012 election. Haley turned him down, judging that Barack Obama from the Democratic Party was going to win this election. She was right.
Haley won her re-election as governor in 2014. By now she was regarded as the 'coming star of the Republican party'. Even Liberals liked her when she got the giant Confederate flag removed outside the South Carolinan Statehouse, originally put up by pro-segregationist Democrats in the 1960s. Nikki would try and avoid the subject of the American Civil War if it came up discussions about why the Confederacy was a bad thing.
In 2016 Haley was considered to be a possible running mate for Donald Trump. The Republican contender looked vulnerable to Hillary Clinton when it came to the empowering the educated female vote. Haley once again declined to the offer. Trump won. He offered her the job of USA ambassador of the United Nations.
Working for Trump
Haley's record at the UN reflected the administration's views. Any deal that Trump hadn't signed was junked. She supported the USA withdrawl from the climate change agreements, the Iranian nuclear deal and human rights commission. No surprises there. Haley supported Ukraine when Russia invaded Crimea but 'the boss' wasn't happy to upset Vladimir Putin. So Haley had to walk back the USA from its pro-sanctions position. More like this was to come as the US president made friends with some strange political friends.
By October 2018 Haley decided to step down from her job. Instinctly a corporate Republican, Haley traded on her recent job to gain boardships. However she kept her political profile by appearing on Fox TV as a supportive ally of Trump's government.
Once again in 2020 Haley was linked again as a possible vice president role by Trump dropping Mike Pence. In the end Pence stayed and Trump lost. At least officially.
Haley zig-zagged around in 2020-2021. She didn't support either impeachments of Donald Trump but at the same time offered criticism of her former leader. This was perhaps a mistake. Trump has people marked down in only two categories: Lovers of Trump/Haters of Trump. Nikki Haley was trying to be both.
Corporate life bored Haley. Thinking that Trump would never recover and that his reputation had been shot to pieces, Haley finally decided to go for the presidency herself. At first she trailed behind DeSantis who was being touted as 'Maga with brains'. Then when Trump was seeing himself being overwhelmed by various court cases, the Orange One decided to run again. Once again Haley tried to work both sides - Maga/Non-Maga - as her support base. DeSantis was still beating her for second place but then his overall oddness and poor tv projection opened it up for Haley. If she could just pitch her appeal to a more centrist Republican position she would get the Republican (Non Trumo) vote.
Then there was two
By January 2024 the once busy Republican field had been cut back down to two contenders. Trump had his nickname for Haley. She was 'bird brain'. So far Trump hasn't elaborated what he means. Haley said she was going to 'stick it out' to the end. In truth her success depends on more hostile court judgements against Trump. If the Orange one ends up removed from the ballot or a possible custodial sentence then Haley would become the Republican Party nominee to go up against Joe Biden.
Anything in possible in 2024.