Powerful capitalists get behind Nikki Haley, a wolf in sheep’s clothing
Nikki Haley speaks at a recent presidential debate sponsored by NBC. She has wrapped the essential extreme right MAGA agenda of which she is a big supporter with the image of an upbeat, friendly soccer mom. | Rebecca Blackwell/AP

The extreme right and a growing number of powerful capitalists are increasingly worried that they may end up needing someone other than Donald Trump to carry their banner in the 2024 presidential election, especially if the former president lands himself in jail before that happens.

Among them are the notorious Koch brothers and big banker Jamie Dimon of Chase, who have been saying nice things about Nikki Haley but, more importantly, putting money into her presidential campaign. Haley is the former governor of South Carolina and U.S. ambassador to the U.N. under Trump. The Koch brothers are happy with her record of support for massive tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation of any and all curbs on Wall Street, elimination of or weakening of federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, and a host of other right-wing ideas.

Haley has been presenting herself lately as more “moderate” than Trump and therefore as the “reasonable” alternative who can pull the Republican Party out of the right-wing sewers and septic tanks in which it has been swimming for a long time now. Nothing can be further from the truth. Even a cursory look at her past exposes her as a right-wing extremist trying to cover up that record by wearing moderate clothing.

When she first announced her campaign, there was only a small hint of her extremist views. She opened her campaign in her hometown of Bamberg, S.C., shaking hands with lots of cops and school children. With a huge American flag fluttering in the breeze behind her, she inveighed against the dangers of the “socialist left.”

One of Haley’s firmest convictions is that America is not a racist country. She is, she reminds people, the child of Indian immigrants, and since she has risen to great heights, she is proof of how non-racist America is. Back in 2021, to underline this false claim, she called upon all governors to ban “critical race theory” from schools. Neither she nor any GOP governor has ever defined what it is they want to ban. Most of the time they try to kill any and all efforts at teaching African-American history which, of course, is U.S. history.

When a white supremacist murdered nine people in a black church in Charleston in 2015, she said racism was not involved.

Doubled down on claims

At every recent speech, Haley has doubled down on her claim that “America is not a racist country.” Nevertheless, she tries to take credit for fighting some of the racism she claims does not exist.

She says she backed removal of the Confederate flag when she was governor of South Carolina. But time after time, until mass pressure to remove it finally won out, she defended that flag. She said it stood for “service, sacrifice, and heritage.” She gave no explanation of how service, sacrifice, and heritage were so obviously connected with the use of that flag to fight for and maintain slavery in the U.S.

What is particularly sad is the fact that America, a country without racism, in her view, allowed her family to be harassed and discriminated against when she was growing up. Haley, of Indian background, and her family suffered the effects of racism when she was a child. She was harassed in school, and racist bands of people drove her family out of their home. Her background and her experiences, rather than being used to claim that racism does not exist, could be used instead to show how the struggle against racism has resulted in progress in the fight against it. Instead, she aligns herself with the forces who want to turn the clock back on civil and human rights.

Her support for racism today goes beyond just covering up history. In 2022, she campaigned in Georgia for far-right Senate candidate Herschel Walker, who said abortion should be illegal even when the mother’s life is in danger.

On the question of abortion rights, she now tries to pose as a “moderate” who says different views must be “respected” but declares openly that she would sign into law a ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy when many women don’t even know they are pregnant.

On immigration, despite her family’s history as immigrants, she calls for the creation of a special “police force” that would be allowed to stop and search anyone who they suspect of being an undocumented immigrant. She signed such a law when she was governor of South Carolina.

On climate change, it is particularly appropriate to note, now that the COP 28 UN conference on climate change is underway, that she wholeheartedly backed Trump when he pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement.

Like many cowardly Republican lawmakers, she originally expressed concern about Trump’s refusal to call off the insurrectionists at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, but soon after reversed course on that issue. She has appeared on Fox News and has said on that network, regarding the coup attempt by Trump, that “it is time to give the man a break.”

In the beginning, it seemed as if Haley had no shot at the Republican nomination. Now, however, she seems to be moving into second place, even if still well behind Trump. Thus far, the media talks much more about her “likability” than it does about her right-wing record. They aren’t focusing much on the movement of some powerful capitalists into her camp. This does not mean, of course, that her campaign does not reflect a growing threat to democracy.

At the very least, her campaign reflects that even if Trump is out of the picture or sitting in jail, as a leading GOP “alternative,” Haley is no better than Trump. The only thing wrong with Trump, if you believe Haley, is that he is not, like her, part of a “new generation of leadership.” His fascist ideas and actions are not the problem, according to Haley. She is content to continue those policies in her role as leader of an alleged “new generation.”

Beware Nikki Haley, who poses as the clean-cut, cheerful, outspoken, all-American suburban soccer mom. As with a rain-wrapped tornado, the cheerful soccer mom is a disguise hiding what is beneath it – a dangerous right-wing extremist.

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John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.