‘Instead, there is a larger point to make. The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation. We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations.’
On the 15th December, Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations spoke this phrase as she stood in front of the gathered diplomats. At this point, the UN was yet to vote in favour of President Donald Trump’s decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, recognising its status as capital of Israel. This decision was roundly condemned by many, even those who supported Israel, who believed it would stir up tensions and perhaps even move the peace process back. The UN agreed with this and voted resoundingly against Trump’s move, with the UK going with the majority. In the Trump administration, this caused anger, with the President criticising the UN and threatening to withhold aid from countries who had voted against him.
Yet Trump was not the shining light here.
Nikki Haley was not a huge name outside of the States before November 23rd 2016, when Trump announced her as his pick for US Ambassador to the UN. Haley was confirmed in a 96-4 vote, with one of the dissenting voters being perennial grump Bernie Sanders. Just prior to becoming ambassador, Haley was serving as Governor of South Carolina, having been elected for her second term, increasing her majority and also becoming one of the most popular governors in the country. The daughter of Sikh Indian immigrants, Haley is one of the highest profile ethnic politicians in the US as well as being one of the most well known women in the GOP.
In 2012, she was on the shortlist for the VP slot in a Mitt Romney ticket, but she said she would have rejected it anyway. Rumours floated she had been offered the job of Secretary of State by Trump (oh God imagine how amazing that would be), but rejected it. Whether she’s biding her time or not interested in such high office remains to be seen, but even so, many in the media are speculating on a 2024 Presidential bid. If, as some predict, she is made Secretary of State in a 2020 Trump administration (that being a very likely outcome), it will be a springboard to the top job. Being both a UN Ambassador and SoS shows off foreign policy credentials, whilst her time as South Carolina Governor shows off domestic credits.
So why would Nikki Haley be such a fantastic president?
- She recognises the UN for what it is- outdated, toothless and in need of reform
Let’s face it; the UN isn’t in great shape. Its predecessor, the League of Nations failed on many things, especially the crises in Abyssinia and Manchuria (throwback to GCSE there). The shining light of its early years was in 1948, when the original female political badass that was Eleanor Roosevelt helped shape the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Since then, the UN has been a vehicle of change, but also of massive ineptitude and failures. One only has to cast their eye to Rwanda for a huge example. Roméo Dallaire, a UN worker, discovered a secret weapons cache and plans for murder, but was ignored by the UN. Whilst Dallaire did all he could, one man was not enough and the Tutsis of Rwanda were slaughtered beyond imagination, leaving the country a warzone. Even though that is the worst of the UN’s failures, it has had lesser, such as its failures in the world’s newest country, South Sudan.
What Haley has recognised is the UN’s role in sovereign affairs. Whilst unlike the European Union, the UN is limited in the role it can play in member domestic affairs; it is still a union that holds a lot of power considering the people of the US don’t actually elect the officials such as the Secretary-General. It asks for a lot of money- the UN is a HUGE organisation, with the USA paying the highest amount. India is the world’s seventh biggest economy but is the 24th biggest contributor. Recently, Haley announced the US would be cutting its budget towards the UN. Considering how terrible the UN is and how they act, I’m definitely in favour of them having a lower budget and starting to call on countries to pay their fair share. Whilst she may be a thorn in the UN’s side, that is best for both the future of the UN and for the US.
- She’s a strong woman
In a recent Gallup poll, Haley was ranked in the Top 10 most admired women (1%) in the recent Gallup poll which saw Barrack Obama as most admired man with Trump second. The remaining top 10 is as follows (It’ll read ten without Haley as many were tied on 1%):
- Hillary Clinton (9%- I will go to my grave questioning why anyone likes this woman. She has been top for the past 16 years, so good for her I guess).
- Michelle Obama (7%- I admire Michelle Obama. Two Ivy League degrees and an advocate for female education, not too shabby),
- Oprah Winfrey (4%-Went from absolute poverty to being an extremely successful TV star and female entrepreneur. Fair).
- Elizabeth Warren (3%- Yeah, no).
- Angela Merkel (2%- Strong woman, I’ll give her that but not a huge fan of her. Not much done for the women raped in Cologne but hey ho).
- Queen Elizabeth II (2%- Has done an amazing job for 65 years, so of course).
- Condoleezza Rice (1%- A strong woman who did well in the Bush administration).
- Melania Trump (1%- I wouldn’t have her in my top ten, but she’s a classy lady who is beating a lot of critics and seems like a lovely person, so I don’t mind).
- Katherine, Duchess of Cambridge (1%- As much as I like her and the royals, I don’t think she’s done enough like Michelle Obama or Condi Rice).
- Beyoncé (1%- Very talented and a very successful businesswoman, but she isn’t exactly the deity she’s made out to be).
Back to Nikki Haley. When you see her on the world stage, you see a truly empowering woman. Whilst I will give plaudits to Clinton for talking about women’s issues- especially in the famous ‘women’s rights are human’s rights’ speech, but I feel a large part of her platform was ‘look at me, first female president woo.’ Haley, on the other hand gets on with the task at hand without raising her gender. Yes, she has made several positive comments about women and our rights, but she has not made it a major issue.
For me, the hallmark of a strong woman is one who celebrates the achievements of her gender. No, I don’t mean it in the Madeleine Albright sense, where she said there was a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women (she meant it in the sense it was wrong that women didn’t support Hillary Clinton). I mean when women stand up and say that they admire what another lady has done, especially if they are opposite to her politically. Haley has, for example, stated that Hillary Clinton got her interested in politics.
The thing I enjoyed hearing from the ambassador recently was that she believed that those who had accused Trump of sexual misconduct have a right to be heard. This was a brave move, considering how vocal Trump has been about these women and how many of his followers believe that they are being used to discredit. Yet, she did it and she has a point. Every woman- and man- has a right to be listened to if they say they have been sexually assaulted- it should be taken seriously. On the other hand, we must also allow due process and follow the notion that those accused are innocent until proven guilty. The accusers of Al Franken and Harvey Weinstein deserve as much credence as those of Donald Trump and Roy Moore do. Haley was right to speak out for them- if they are proved wrong, then we should rightly condemn them for such horrific lies but if they are proved correct, then something can be done.
- She has had a life outside of politics
Whilst political experience is important, having a job before politics is even more important. From the age of 12, Haley did the books in her mother’s clothing business, something that she said taught her about the value of business and turned her against government intervention (she is also admirer of a very famous shopkeeper’s daughter, one Margaret Thatcher). Unlike many politicians who have degrees in law or politics, Haley has an accounting degree and not from an Ivy League college. After working for a waste company, Haley worked for the family business and has been on several Chambers of Commerce. In 2004, she was made President of The National Association of Women Business Owners. To me, working in a private sector and in a self-employed capacity means one has a better understanding of the effects of the economy on the regular citizen. Haley was 32 when she first entered political office, which is relatively old as compared to many who started life working for congressmen or being one.
- She appeals to a wide base.
Haley is no stupid woman and if she is playing for a 2024, she has the ability to win over several elements of the Republican Party. This is increasingly important in the party at the moment, due to the divisions that have occurred since the rise of Trump. We hope that political parties remain broad churches, and it is only fair that all voters are represented.
On one side, Nikki Haley is popular within the Trumplican section of the GOP. Whilst she is not a puppet of the President, she has still stuck to his agenda. As he is President, his administration will need to set out his agenda and she has done it pretty well. Trump tends to be sceptical of international organisations and whilst Haley is Ambassador, she doesn’t exactly fawn over the UN. She has been very tough on UN, American sovereignty and Israel, something that endears her to the recent GOP converts who have shown a strong interest in international affairs. Haley has managed to stay on Trump’s good side, though she was the target of criticism from the then-Presidential nominee in March 2016. Even so, she has remained loyal despite several comments about Trump- she was never a fan in the way others were, which shows that she is damn good at her job. A quick flick of ‘MAGA’ Twitter and Instagram show a stream of support for the ambassador, who praise her strength and see her as a great example of a conservative woman.
Somehow, Haley manages to have a crossover appeal with the Non-Trump Republicans. The Non-Trump Republicans fall into several categories: the ‘Never Trump’ Republicans such as Lindsey Graham, establishment politicians such as Paul Ryan and moderates/liberal Republicans. Before being a member of the Trump administration, Haley was a well-known politician on the national scene and did not particularly come across as anti-establishment in the way that people like Trump are. She seems to have avoided criticism from them, and many actually appreciate her intervention in the UN, though this is unsurprising, as pride in America is one of the GOP’s biggest policies.
In terms of voters, Haley has broad appeal. Whilst there are still a percentage of Americans who wouldn’t vote for a woman (I’m sure she doesn’t mind not being supported by bigots), Haley has support from the Republicans, some moderates and will do well amongst white women in a way that Trump did in the 2016 election. It is interesting to see if former Democrats turned Republican in the Rust Belt will remain with the party and Haley, though that will be down to Trump’s handling of the economy. As an ethnic minority candidate, she may have appeal with non-whites, though this may depend on the group as a majority of minority voters tend to favour Democrats for various reasons. As the daughter of immigrants who worked her way up in the world of politics without going to the right schools or knowing the right people, Haley is very much the American Dream to many.
- She does a genuinely good job in whatever she’s in
In the South Carolina House of Representatives, Haley pushed a conservative agenda. Whilst her strongly pro-life beliefs may be at odds with the more liberal reader (a large amount of Tories or non-partisan readers are pro-choice these days), she did ensure that exceptions in laws were made for certain cases, such as when the woman had been a victim of rape. Tax reform was a huge part of her job, as was school reform. A fiscal conservative, she voted against lawmakers being allowed to collect their pensions whilst in office- something that would be an extra cost to the taxpayer.
Haley’s time in the South Carolina governorship and the statistics back it up. She brought 85,000 jobs to the region, ensured fairer funding for poor schools and set unemployment at a 15 year low. In December 2015, she managed to get an incredible 81% approval rating from Republican against the state legislature’s measly 54%, with a decent 56% state wide. This made her one of the most popular governors in the country, which means she’s doing something right. Most admirably, she handled two race issues with grace- the removal of the Confederate Flag from the South Carolina State House and the slaughter of nine church goers in Charleston by white supremacist and racist Dylann Roof. Whilst the Confederate Flag is one that divides opinion- racism v heritage, nobody can deny that the Charleston shooting was born out of severe prejudice and cruelty. Race in America is an important talking point, and it is great that a mainstream politician stands up for people.
Her endorsement was widely sought in the 2016 election. A popular politician and rising figure within the party, many of the candidates lined up to ask for her endorsement. Haley took a risk by supporting Marco Rubio, who had little to no chance of winning, but it showed that she took principles over popularity.
Finally, as UN ambassador, she has proved to be a strong figure on the international stage, even without prior foreign policy experience. She isn’t afraid of standing up to the UN and its hypocrisy regarding the Israel/Palestine situation (the Iranians have recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, but not a peep from the UN- and the Iranians don’t even let in Israeli passport holders). As discussed before, the UN does not have a fantastic record regarding competency and when the UN decided to vote against American interests, Haley wasn’t afraid to stand up. Frankly, even if the UN hadn’t had condemned Trump’s decision, they needed a kick up the behind. They overreach boundaries and it is correct that their budget is to be cut by the US, as they do not proportionally charge membership fees (as discussed previously). She is a stateswoman when she stands up- her speeches contain sharp rhetoric and barely hidden anger, but her charismatic and calm manner of speaking make her stand out. Haley is not rude, but she is hard.
Eleanor Roosevelt said it best: “A woman is like a teabag, you don’t know how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” People knew Haley was a strong woman before she became ambassador, but she has really shone in recent week and shown her resolve. She has had great successes in both domestic and foreign policy, which is important as a President is not only a representative on the world stage, but the leader of his or her country. The US needs a president that will not keel over under pressure, but will rise above.
Whilst I may have criticised the woman line that Hillary Clinton loved so much, I do like having a positive female role model. Women are going up in the politics world, but there is still a long way to go before we have the representation that we truly deserve. I wouldn’t say I’m as conservative as Haley in any way- I have conservative views on some things and liberal things on others, but I just want to see someone I can look up to. The conservative moment doesn’t have a positive reception from many women and struggles to get them as the liberal movement do, so it is important that moderate and conservative girls have someone to follow. Most importantly, I want to see a woman who worked for the family business at an early age and enjoyed a life outside of politics who has risen to the top through hard work as president. It may be hypocritical of me to be so in favour of Haley, as I have often criticised people like Obama wading in on Brexit (back of the queue my behind), but I just want to put my case across. I know people will disagree with me on these things but I hope by putting the case forward, we can create a dialogue.
If anyone deserves to be the first woman president, it’s Nikki Haley.