Somewhere at the confluence of laughable and pathetic lies are those who still fail to see Donald Trump as a tyrant, his candidacy a pox on democratic ideals, and finally the capitulation of the Republican Party to his abhorrent whims. Just this week, the nearly presumptive nominee for the GOP demanded his only opponent, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, exit the race. He threatened to expunge her donors from his movement and commanded Republicans in the United States Senate abandon a crucial bi-partisan bill to secure the southern border and support the dire defense of Ukraine against the bloody invasion of Russia. This is going on right now, not in a third world country, but America.
For her part, Haley hangs in there (for now), trying to be a right-wing alternative to this mayhem, but she is an anathema to the Party. They don’t want her or what she represents: the Ronald Reagan Republican ideology. That is dead and gone, maybe because it failed to deliver on its geopolitical policing of the world’s ills or the debunking of its trickle-down laissez-faire economic falderal, but maybe it is just because at its violent white-supremacy core the Party openly supports the final death-throes of the American experiment. Pick your poison – Haley is doomed, and only the general election stands between this dark storm and our future. This is blatantly obvious now, even to those who support fascism. It has come to a head.
The good news is Trump’s victory in New Hampshire, which for all intents and purposes was the final hurrah for Haley and what is left of the old, tattered Republican party, was tepid at best and a harbinger of difficult tidings for him.
Firstly, nearly 70% of Independents, who will decide who is president in November, sided with Haley, many of whom told exit pollsters their vote was “anti-Trump,” and despite stomping Haley in the Republican tally, still 25% abandoned ship. Unlike lily-white and painfully evangelistic Iowa, New Hampshire, while still pretty damn white, reflects more of the politically measured and staunchly secular hue of the country, which is why Republicans have only won the popular vote once over seven presidential elections since 1988.
Trump lost in 2020 by eight million votes and nearly every swing state. He needs to expand his voter base but is working overtime trying to shrink it with attacks on Haley’s womanhood, crowing about ending Roe v Wade (supported by nearly 70% of Americans) with his Supreme Court justices, calling for the dissolution of the U.S. Constitution, and braying in court through haphazard lawyers that presidents should have total immunity against committing crimes. Although his supporters rightfully point to national polls that have him leading President Joe Biden by one to two points, despite being down in the crucial swing states of Michigan and Pennsylvania, there is still the matter of recent voting outcomes that have seen the Democrats win nearly every local and national election since he took office in January of 2017.
It is also important to note that through Democratic rule shenanigans Biden wasn’t even on the New Hampshire ballot and still won a more convincing victory over the field than Trump on the other side with mere write-in votes, which is the first sign that perhaps the “enthusiasm gap” between Biden and Trump is a tad overblown.
This is not lost on Haley, who continues to hammer home the idea that since his presidency Trump has coughed up the House, the Senate, the White House, and a host of governorships. She is also correctly stating that her lead over the weakened Biden is more in the five-point range, and all of those who voted Republicans out – women, educated suburbanites, et al– are hardly enamored with his mocking her mode of dress, or calling a woman candidate a “birdbrain,” while going to court every day facing a woman he’s already been found guilty of sexually assaulting and demeaning her in a second defamation case.
The bad news is that Haley is utterly alone. Since the economy is booming, there is low unemployment, lower gas prices, dwindling inflation without the prognosticated recession, and the stock market at an all-time high, the only weapon Republicans have in their political arsenal is border security. They scream and yell incessantly about it. It is by far the Party’s most potent and belabored issue. Yet, as they closed in on a solution (which many observers feel is as conservative a compromise as they’re likely to see in the Senate), the minority leader, Mitch McConnell tells reporters Trump asked them to scuttle it so he can continue to use the issue to get elected. And since McConnell admitted in public his only aim in the aughts was to make “Barack Obama a one-term president,” not legislate (a plan that worked out fantastically), and his cheating the system to ram anti-abortion justices on Supreme Court, seems to be gladly continuing his hackery to keep these “dangers” alive while aiding Vladmir Putin’s march across Europe. All in the name of electing a lunatic.
While this is nothing new for Republicans – Nixon surreptitiously halted the Paris Peace talks in 1968 to allow his “Secret Plan to Stop the Viet Nam War” afloat and Ronald Reagan made secret deals with the Iranian theocracy to halt the release of the American hostages before the 1980 election against President Jimmy Carter – this proves once again Trump’s hold on the Party and its only aim is to prop up his vanity project.
While I think it the longest shot, Nikki Haley should stay in the race to merely show that whatever is left of the Republican Party prior to 2016 remains on life support. At some point, the Party will have to rise from the ashes of this Trump insurgency, whether he wins in November and takes us into a dystopian autocracy or loses once again, taking the GOP with him. Who will be around to build back up in its terrible wake?
It is likely too late for Republicans, something I am openly rooting for to return reproductive rights to our women, but as long as Haley stays on the stump in the face of utter defeat and reminds us that there could still be a viable two-party system, then maybe hope isn’t so far-fetched.