Jay Caruso, who writes for several American and British journals, says, in an article in the Independent, that “One of the more disturbing aspects of modern American politics is the ascent of the zero-sum game. The divided culture in which Washington DC and, alas, many state governments operate means the concept of “everyone wins” is no longer an option … [but] … While it is prevalent within Congress and the White House — making it nearly impossible for important legislation to get passed unless one party controls the House, Senate, and White House — it’s also an intra-party phenomenon … [and] … Within the base of the Republican Party, the mindset applicable to Donald Trump is, “You’re either with him or against him.” There is no middle ground, and the same goes for many conservatives and Republicans critical of the president. Any praise for him is indicative of “complicity” or “normalizing” Trump’s otherwise abnormal behavior; any criticism is evidence of disloyalty.“
America and the world, he says, is “witnessing that mindset in hyperdrive with the release of Nikki Haley‘s book, With All Due Respect: Defending America with Grit and Grace. The former Ambassador to the United Nations speaks highly of Trump at times, and spoke out against the president’s impeachment in recent weeks … [and] … That was enough for Haley to get crossed off a lot of Christmas card lists. Matt Lewis, a columnist with The Daily Beast, tweeted one particularly damning phrase:
But, Mr Caruso opines, “the truth is that what seems black and white is probably shades of gray … [because] … Come 2024, and whether Trump is ending his second term or a Democrat is running for re-election, the GOP will need a candidate to step up and prepare to run for president … [and] … Nikki Haley is clearly thinking long-term, surveying the current political landscape but also looking five years down the road. The reality is that no matter how much people want to see either the Trump-friendly wing or the establishment wing of the GOP eradicated, it won’t happen. That creates a challenge for Republican politicians, particularly those who want to run for president.“
Nikki Haley, Jay Caruso reminds us “served three terms in the South Carolina House of Representatives before getting elected twice as Governor of South Carolina. Her tenure as the Ambassador to the United Nations provides her a resumé most president aspirants could only hope to have — legislative, executive, and foreign policy experience … [but] … For Haley to have any chance at the nomination in 2024 — assuming Trump loses next November or Mike Pence decides not to run — she’ll have to avoid a lot of landmines, and that requires huge political skill. It’s relatively easy for people on the sidelines to pontificate about what she should do, but those people don’t have any skin in the game. They don’t have to reach a broad consensus of not only the general public but the Republican primary electorate.“
But, he concludes, “Like it or not, the Republican Party will not emerge from the Trump era entirely devoid of what Trump brought to the party. Nor can the party remain all-in with what Trump brought to the party and expect to win a national election. For either side to say otherwise is wish-casting on their part, not political reality … [and, only] … Time will tell if what Nikki Haley is doing creates a successful roadmap for her to the presidency. But people bemoaning what she did are making the mistake of putting faith in politicians — and that almost always end badly.“
My guess remains that:
- President Trump will be impeached by the US House of Representatives; but
- He will not be convicted in the US Senate; and
- He will emerge with his “base” even more united behind him; but
- The Democratic Party will be tarnished by the failed impeachment process; and
- President Trump will be (narrowly) re-elected in 2020.
By 2024 Vice President Mike Pence will, I suspect, be stale. Americans, the Trump Party and the Republicans will all be looking for a ‘not-Trump‘ candidate who will carry on many of his policies without either or both of his bad character and/or nonsensical strategic views. Some (many?) will also be looking for a more moderate person. My guess is that Ambassador Haley, who was described, back in 2016, by The Economist, as combining “fiscal ferocity and a capacity for conciliation” will be a likely choice. She is young (about 20 years younger than Mike Pence), female, and a member of a racial minority (her parents immigrated from India). Most Republicans, many in the Trump Party, some Independents and even a few Democrats (those for whom the party has drifted too far to the left) will likely be persuaded by her resumé.
That she is running, in 2024, seems increasingly obvious to me as she reaches out, online and through her new book to try to connect with more and more people, across a broad spectrum of American opinion. The only point on which I disagree with Jay Caruso is that Nikki Haley is not “looking five years down the road,” she’s looking at December 2020 because as soon as the next US presidential election is over the Republican selection process for 2024 begins.
Ambassador Haley is not a shoo-in for President in 2024; American politics is too tough and dirty to ever say that, but she is a first-tier contender and Canadians need to make no mistake: Nimrata Randhawa (Nikki) Haley is a Trumpian, through and through. She is, amongst other things, tired of so-called allies who don’t pull their weight on e.g. defence spending and burden sharing (about which I will have more to say in a couple of days) and she will expect Canada ~ Conservative or Liberal ~ to do more to stand with America against those countries that threaten the liberal-democratic free-world, and I believe that she thinks that group includes China, Iran and Russia. The differences between Ambassador Haley and President Trump are many, varied and obvious; she is neither a fool nor a buffoon, nor is she a bully. But, as her book title suggests, under the very evident grace there is a gritty, ‘America First‘ patriot who intends to defend America’s vital interests against all comers.