Image from Nick Anderson.
Nikki Haley has been a recurring figure in Republican politics since being elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2004. Since then she has gained more popularity and has ascended to the highest positions in government. Now, Haley is chasing the highest position in America, perhaps the world: President of The United States of America. However, the path to even getting the Republican nomination is riddled with obstacles. Arguably, Haley’s biggest issue is connecting with the Republican voters and Americans as a whole.
Nikki Haley is not to be underestimated: in 2010 she became the first female governor of South Carolina, the youngest governor, and the second governor of Indian descent. Moreover, in 2017, she became the first presidential cabinet member of Indian descent. If this list of accomplishments isn’t impressive enough, she also served as the American ambassador for the UN, was in the Times’ 100 most influential people in the world, and gave the Republican rebuttal to Obama’s State of The Union address.
Though Haley has accomplishments, she also has more than a few controversies with her own party, which can prove problematic when she needs their nomination. The Republican Party’s stance on the Confederate flag is that it represents Southern heritage and therefore is not racist. However, Haley in her time as Governor signed a bill that removed the Confederate flag from the state capitol following a shooting where Black churchgoers were shot dead. Later on, Haley did backtrack and said the Confederate flag was hijacked by supremacists and that in reality, it does only stand for Southern pride.
Moreover, there was a bill in South Carolina to force transgender people to use bathrooms that correspond with their sex, which was supported by the Republican Party. Nikki Haley, on the other hand, decided not to support the bill, which upset many of her constituents. Additionally, Haley has disagreed with Donald Trump many times. When Trump introduced the “Muslim ban,” Haley was avidly against it, claiming that discrimination based on religion is un-American. With the “Build a Wall” campaign, Haley saw that it attacked immigrants as a whole and told Trump to thank legal immigrants like her parents who did it “right.” Furthermore, she often complained about Trump’s ability to incite anger in others and claimed he was everything she didn’t want in a President. After serving in his cabinet for almost two years as ambassador to the U.N. she finally resigned. To many, these occasional disagreements don’t mean much, but since a large chunk of the Republican Party is still connected with Trump, these past disagreements have caused a rift between her and Republican voters.
Nikki Haley straddles a unique identity and perspective in her party. She is Indian, a daughter of immigrants, and a woman. Her diverse background could be used to her advantage to pull in more Asian, women, and immigrant voters. “I would pick her against Trump but she definitely isn’t my first choice,” says WHS junior Aleesha Sachanandani. “I would pick a Democrat over her because I don’t believe in Republican beliefs. For me to vote for her she needs a stable set of beliefs and not turn with the majority. Her beliefs have to be in favor of human rights instead of against them.” Aleesha added, “My parents would hate her, she’s not up to Indian standards,” a statement that junior Shruthi Subramaniyan agreed with. Correspondingly, Haley’s comments about how the Confederate flag only means Southern pride has put off many Black voters, and many female voters are repelled by Haley because of her avid support of banning abortions. However, junior Shagun Trivedi says, “My parents would vote for her, simply because she is South Asian and they wouldn’t look at her political beliefs.” Lastly, her flip-flopping on Trump has caused major distrust. When January 6th first happened (when Trump supporters stormed Capitol Hill to stop the Senate from confirming that Joe Biden won the election) Haley denounced Trump and wanted to give him the boot. But, only a few weeks later, she said she doesn’t want the Republican Party to go back to a time without Trump. Even her decision to run was a reversal: at first, she said she would never run against Trump. The critique is that once the direction of the wind changes, she does too. Kabir Kaur, a junior, says that “Haley switches her opinion too often which makes me think she is faking everything.” Therefore, Haley is struggling to connect with people who share aspects of her identity, but if she manages to bridge the gap, she may get much more support.
Shazia Shameerullah is a senior at Washington High School and has lived in Fremont since elementary school. This is her second year at the Hatchet and is now the Opinions editor. Her favorite subjects at school include social studies and English. She enjoys being with friends, volunteering at the animal shelter, cooking, Mock Trial, Model UN, and watching sitcoms. After high school, Shazia plans to major in political science and get a career in public service or law.