Nikki Haley: The Future Of Conservatism (David Cowan, 12/06/23, Vital Center)
Conservatism has been in turmoil for decades, with successive shocks exposing and widening fractures within the movement that brought Ronald Reagan to power and helped win the Cold War. As we approach the middle of the century, conservatives are now seeking a renewed sense of purpose. Americans are crying out for new leadership. A Trump-Biden rematch would represent a profound failure to move on in national politics. Looking to a new generation is the nation’s best hope for renewal, and the candidate who best embodies that hope is Nikki Haley.
Haley’s character, philosophy, and record reflect the essential virtues of conservatism. She expresses strength without descending into divisiveness, defends a consistent set of principles while being practical, and has brought about major conservative achievements as South Carolina Governor and UN Ambassador. Such substance is clearly lacking in candidates like Ramaswamy. Haley has also been an active campaigner in Iowa and New Hampshire, meeting with thousands of people and making a real impact. Unlike DeSantis, the more primary voters see of her, the more they like her. Too much political discourse focuses on the people who are too online rather than the concerns of the normal Americans who decide elections.
It is the quest for normalcy that has helped define Haley and her campaign. Rather than wanting to tear down the whole system, Haley has called for an America that is “strong and proud, not weak and woke.” Narratives of American decline have become endemic on both the Left and Right. It is true that there are structural long-term problems that face the nation, but decline is a choice. America needs a confident leader who is prepared to take the tough decisions to reinvigorate the nation. The new Cold War with the anti-Western coalition of China, Russia, and Iran presents an opportunity for the conservative movement to rally together again in defense of American ideals and institutions. […]
Haley is defending an authentically American conservative tradition. Free enterprise, civil society, and limited government are keystones in her philosophy. Following in the tradition of Reagan and Thatcher, Haley believes in freedom as the key organizing principle of the American nation. The cry of liberty has continually defined the course of American history: independence from the British Empire; the abolition of slavery and expansion of civil rights; victory over Nazism, Fascism, and Communism. These historic achievements were made to defend and expand the freedom of Americans. A conservatism that renounces freedom entirely must also abandon the American political inheritance and the fundamental truths espoused by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence.
Where the commitment to freedom is most contested on the Right is the economy. Economic freedom has undeniably delivered huge gains in generating wealth and innovation and lifting people out of poverty. But economic stagnation has made a comeback across the Western world over the past fifteen years. The result is inflation, low growth, and higher taxes under a bloated state that interferes too much while simultaneously failing to deliver its core responsibilities effectively.