Earlier this month, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley gave the GOP response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address. Contrary to Obama’s claim of a strong economy, Haley revealed more realistic economic conditions.
She argued that slow economic growth, crushing debt, and the rising cost of healthcare are nothing for Obama to boast about. Under the Obama administration, the national debt has skyrocketed. At the beginning of his term, U.S. debt stood at $10.6 trillion. According to the Washington Times, U.S. debt could reach $20 trillion by the end of Obama’s term.
Data released last year by the Bureau of Economic Analysis indicated that in the 23 quarters after the recession, annualized real GDP growth was only 2.24 percent. Comparatively, it was 4.79 percent during the Reagan recovery.
Healthcare premiums are on the rise and doctors are less available. The cost of the Obamacare mid-range “silver plan” is set to rise 7.5 percent on average this year. According to a Health and Human Services report, 60 percent of enrollees will see an average increase of 6.3 percent.
Haley also addressed the divisions within the GOP. While calling for an end to illegal immigration, she asserted that we should welcome legal immigrants who “who work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions” and accept people “regardless of their race or religion”—clearly a reference to Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the country.
Haley herself is the daughter of Indian immigrants and said that “growing up in the rural South, my family didn’t look like our neighbors, and we didn’t have much.” Like millions of other immigrants, Haley’s family achieved the American Dream through hard work and talent.
In this period of elevated racial and political tensions, Haley called for conversation and peace, rather than division and hostility. She referenced the tragic shooting at the historic Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston last summer. Haley stated that although the shooter didn’t look like members of the church, the members “didn’t throw him out, they didn’t call the police, instead they pulled up a chair and prayed with him for an hour.”
She noted that after the horrific mass murder, there were no riots or violence in South Carolina and people “didn’t turn against each other’s race or religion, we turned toward God.” After the shooting, Haley made the powerful symbolic decision to take down the Confederate flag that flew for 54 years above the South Carolina State House.
Unsurprisingly, Haley’s address met with hostility from the far-right. Rush Limbaugh claims that Haley’s response reflects the Republican establishment’s desire to “drive conservatives out of the party.” Conservative columnist and outspoken Trump supporter Ann Coulter tweeted: “Trump should deport Nikki Haley.”
Apparently, the official Republican Party's current stance on immigration is no longer conservative enough for Coulter and her followers. They not only oppose amnesty, but fervently insist upon a moratorium on all immigration.
Haley’s address only scrapes the surface of the contentious factions within the GOP. Last week, National Review published a symposium by 22 prominent conservative writers titled, “Conservatives against Trump.” They argued that Trump is not a true conservative and that his victory in the GOP primary “would provide Hillary Clinton with the easiest imaginable path to the White House.” Conservative radio host Michael Medved argued that Trump’s “much-heralded hard line on immigration discards pragmatic reform policies.”
Governor Haley’s criticism of Trump’s far-right populism was justified and well overdue. If Trump maintains his lead in the polls (as he has for months), he could be the GOP nominee by a comfortable margin. I’d settle for anyone running for president who isn’t Trump, an outdated socialist, or under FBI investigation.