Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley effectively launched her 2024 presidential campaign during her Monday night speech at the Republican National Convention to much media fanfare. Less noticed was an equally qualified and camera-ready Republican woman that is arguably much better positioned to carry the party torch post-Trump: South Dakota governor Kristi Noem.
The media was split on reactions to Haley’s audition: some mocked her declaration that America isn’t a racist country, but others applauded her as the GOP’s own ‘return to normalcy’ and ‘compassionate‘ candidate. Voters who support the Trump agenda ought to be wary of this praise. When moderate Republicans and members of the media talk about returning the GOP to its roots, they don’t just mean a return to civility or political correctness, but a return to neoconservatism and capitulation to the left.
Noem, alternatively, has shown over the past six months that she is willing to actually embrace tenets of Trumpism rather than just speaking about them when they benefit her political career. During her tenure as governor, Noem has loosened concealed carry restrictions, signed a bill requiring state universities to promote intellectual diversity and signed several bills restricting abortion. She refused to issue a statewide lockdown in South Dakota during the start of the coronavirus outbreak, instead urging personal responsibility and citing respect for small businesses that needed to stay open to survive. She alluded to this decision during her RNC speech Wednesday night by striking an anti-elitist tone: ‘We are not — and will not — be the subjects of an elite class of so-called experts. We the people are the government.’
Noem unequivocally condemned the nationwide riots and blamed Democratic politicians for allowing them to continue. She compared the current moment to when Abraham Lincoln saw ‘worse than savage mobs’ destroying property, attacking families, and threatening lives.
‘These good people were becoming tired of, and disgusted with, a government that offered them no protection,’ Noem said. ‘Sound familiar?’
‘From Seattle and Portland to Washington and New York, Democrat-run cities across this country are being overrun by violent mobs. The violence is rampant. There’s looting, chaos, destruction, and murder. People that can afford to flee have fled. But the people that can’t — good, hard-working Americans — are left to fend for themselves,’ Noem asserted.
In contrast, just before Noem spoke, Fox News host Tucker Carlson was blasting Haley for a May 30 tweet that said George Floyd’s death ‘needs to be personal and painful for everyone.’ Haley sent this tweet five days into the Minneapolis riots as the city burned to the ground, suggesting that she was excusing the violence because people were hurting emotionally. The former South Carolina governor sent a similarly tone-deaf tweet after NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace claimed he was the victim of a racially motivated hate crime. ‘We should all stand with @BubbaWallace today against the cowards who secretly put the noose in his garage stall. Watch your back cowards,’ Haley proclaimed, despite the fact that it was later proven the so-called ‘noose’ had been in that garage for months before Wallace ever used the stall. Conservatives whose first instinct isn’t to pander to the left immediately recognized the incident as a potential hoax — but not Haley.
Noem refuses to play nice with the left, whose illogical and overlong shutdowns ravaged the economy and whose lack of police support led to nationwide lawlessness. Therefore she has earned scorn from the mainstream media. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow brought on Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan Wednesday night to insist Noem was ‘very wrong’ about Democratic cities being overrun with violence. The Daily Beast called her a ‘master of COVID delusion’. PBS referred to her speech as ‘dark’. This is good news. An actual conservative will never be beloved by the progressive punditocracy.
So why has Haley been getting all of the love? She is a safe and predictable choice for the establishment political class, of course. Remember, she and Hillary Clinton both admonished Trump for attempting to pull troops from Syria and ‘abandoning’ the Kurds. The politicos who were purged from the party under Trump and exiled to MSNBC and CNN contributor gigs would easily crawl their way back into a Haley administration. None of this is compatible with the ‘America First’ and populist agenda that has gained popularity with the GOP during Trump’s first term. If that trend is to continue, Noem should be vetted for the 2024 job well before Haley.