Haley’s Career Died Because of the GOP’s Poison Ideology

We have just witnessed the end of Nikki Haley’s political career. It collapsed in the same way every pyramid scheme is finally doomed to do. At some point, one just runs out of suckers.

The bridges one burns, the voters one betrays, the platitudes one wears out like a battered pair of too high pumps, all scatter the darkling plain. They would haunt a woman, if she had a conscience. But she is empty and alone. Her future will now consist of tedious board meetings for war profiteers, vapid speeches to yawning big spenders, and guest segments with Sean Hannity gibbering across from her. How did it come to this?

The answer is simple. This is what happens to leaders who despise their voters and whose contempt for the culture, faith, and heritage of their people is palpable and overpowering—to the point that such leaders cannot contain themselves. Like abusive spouses or parents, they kick the proles in their faces even when it isn’t necessary, and they lie, even when the truth would sound better.

So it was that Nikki Haley called Trump a demagogic xenophobe in 2015, and then promptly went to work for him. Apparently invited to join the 25th Amendment conspiracy to lawlessly remove him from office, she hedged her bets—but she wouldn’t warn him. Sent to promote Trump’s pro-life policies at the United Nations, she simply refused—though she happily accepted speaking engagements for the Susan B. Anthony List. In her first 2023 debate, Haley would actually taunt pro-lifers, insisting that any federal efforts to protect the unborn were futile with her signature witchy grin, as if she were really running for president of Planned Parenthood. (A job she richly deserves, and which I hope she gets.)

Haley ran for governor of the first state of the Confederacy, promising to preserve its Southern heritage. When one drooling sociopath who’d attacked a black church released a video with his crayon drawing of the Confederate flag in the background, Haley pounced on that as pretext to start purging that heritage, as if it had somehow caused the slaughter. Haley’s iconoclastic attack propelled the national wave of mob assaults, not just on Confederate heroes, but on a number of American founders and historical figures, Catholic explorers, and statues of saints like King Louis IX and Father Serra.

Haley’s scathing, Brahmin contempt for the untouchables whose votes she presumably needed kept leaking out on the floor. It was too great to contain. She is someone who wants to outsource America’s immigration policy to big corporations, allowing them to dictate who enters our country on the basis of what helps their bottom lines rather than who Americans want as friends and fellow citizens. She is also rushing the citizenship of newcomers—at a time when assimilation of immigrants is actually discouraged by our schools, which teach that the idea of a melting pot is somehow “racist.”

Since joining the board of defense giant Boeing, Haley has become a multimillionaire—and perhaps America’s loudest advocate for sending more borrowed billions to fund the miserable war devastating Ukraine. Treating that tortured, corrupt oligarchy as our pledged treaty ally and inviting it into NATO is just as reckless as the Soviet placement of nuclear missiles in Cuba. JFK was willing to risk a nuclear war to reverse that. Should we expect less of the bloody-minded Vladimir Putin? If Haley cared about her fellow Americans who aren’t on Boeing’s board, she might give her position five minutes’ thought.  

Haley’s career died not of natural causes, but of poisoning. The toxin involved has all but killed movement conservatism, of the sort which shouldered its way to power circa 1992. As I wrote in a piece at The Stream:

Instead of asking how a given foreign intervention, or trade deal, or immigration policy would affect the people who live here, who pay the taxes and spill the blood and suffer the consequences of what our government does, the pre-Trump and anti-Trump GOP ask a very different set of questions. They are loyal to something else, quite distinct from real-world America and Americans.

What is that “something else”? It’s an

an arid ideology, a narrow and ahistorical set of Cliff’s Notes from the Cold War. In that sophomoric summary, the only important thing about the U.S. is the set of political principles we can draw from the Declaration of Independence. These principles are universal, and we should be loyal to them at any cost to our neighbors or our children.

Here I go again, banging the same drum as I was in 2003, back in the build-up to the Iraq War, when David Frum at National Review was anathematizing war skeptics as “unpatriotic.” In an essay that proved grimly prophetic, “America the Abstraction,” I turned the charge around. The neoconservatives (now the establishment Republicans) are the ones who fail to practice the virtue of patriotism. Instead of practicing piety toward their fathers and their gods, they view the real, incarnate America as the Bolsheviks viewed Russia—as a host to be exploited, milked, and  bled dry , in the service of  abstract political maxims.

 From that essay:

If you are trying to boil down citizenship to its philosophically respectable components, and if ideology is all you are interested in, then it does not really matter where you were born. Or who your parents were. Or whom you love. Or the hymns you know by heart, the folk tales you treasure, the God you worship. None of these merely human matters measures up, ideologically speaking. None of them can be enshrined in a manifesto, or beamed across the world via Voice of America, or exported in music videos. They do not raise the GDP, or lower the interest rate, or increase our command of oil reserves. They cannot be harnessed to drive the engine of globalization. Therefore, to some people, these things do not matter. Such pieties can be harnessed in the run-up to a war, can form part of the Army recruitment ads and propaganda campaigns, and may even find their way into presidential speeches. But essentially there is no difference between a fourth-generation American and an Afghan refugee who just landed at JFK—so long as they both accept the same ideology.

At some point, the voters you keep spurning with your shoe realize that you’re not their friend. Let’s pray that more voters in more races experience that same epiphany, while there’s still a concrete country left to save.

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