Following President Donald Trump’s recent decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Fox News’ strategic analyst Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters highly commended current U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (UN): “Nikki Haley may end up as our first female president.” Considering this in conjunction with the previous nail-biting presidential election, taking place only a year and a month ago on November 8, 2016, Americans across the nation could have witnessed history in the making: the election of America’s first female president.
Though the loss was a blow to feminists and young women around the world, the previous presidential election shows that America is finally ready for a female president. Taking Lt. Col. Peters’ words to heart, Ambassador Haley may well make a worthy candidate for such a momentous role in American history.
Even though the election of then president-elect Donald Trump, who is the only American president with no political or military experience, defies the necessity for an American presidential candidate to have several years of experience in American politics or law, Ambassador Haley certainly has experience in the political sphere.
Entering American politics in 2004, Ambassador Haley assumed office as a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives from the 87th district and was elected chair of freshman caucus and majority whip in the South Carolina General Assembly. She was successfully re-elected in 2006 and 2008. Being a Republican, Ambassador Haley holds on to the fiscally conservative viewpoint on taxation, which advocates for lower taxes and deregulation of the economy. Being a daughter of Sikh immigrants, she believes immigration laws should be enforced thereby ensuring that immigrants follow legal procedures, which led her to support legislative reforms to address issues of illegal immigration. As a pro-life advocate, she voted for the Penalties for Harming an Unborn Child/Fetus law in 2006 and supported the Pre-Abortion Ultrasound law in 2007.
Ambassador Haley, who was endorsed by former Massachusetts governor and GOP presidential candidate Mark Sanford and former governor of Alaska Sarah Palin in 2009, was elected governor of South Carolina in 2010; her election made her the second Indian-American, the first woman and youngest person in U.S. history to serve as governor in the United States. Though confident in her own capabilities, the moment still surprised many South Carolinians. Haley said, “it was a shock to the people of South Carolina. One, I was the first minority [elected in South Carolina]. Two, I was the youngest governor in the country. And three, oh my God she’s a girl.”
During her governorship alongside the leadership of South Carolina’s secretary of commerce, Bobby Hitt, the former governor created 85,000 new jobs as well as $21.5 billion in capital investment — boosting the state’s economy for both the working-class and entrepreneurial minds.
In June 2015 her empathetic response to the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina states grounds after the Charleston Massacre, a tragedy in which white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine innocent people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church during a Bible study with the intention of beginning a race war, garnered her praise during her governorship. Initially a supporter of the flag prior to June 2015, which she claimed represented Southern heritage as well as honored South Carolinian ancestors, Ambassador Haley viewed the flag as a symbol of division rather than one of heritage after the massacre. “What I realized now more than ever is people were driving by and felt hurt and pain. No one should feel pain,” said Haley.
Haley’s change of heart on the issue came also from her own difficult experiences being the child of two Sikh parents who immigrated from Punjab, India in search of a better life for their children in which they could “stand before the law and government as individuals” rather than be judged based on “the family, caste or religion they came from.”
Reflecting on her childhood, she says: “My parents always said, ‘The things that make you different make you special.’ I think my differences have always had people underestimate me. That’s the fun I have: proving them wrong. And so, I grew up always trying to show people what we had in common.”
However, growing up in a family different from her peers was not always easy. She recalled one memory in which her father buying produce at a grocery store in Columbia where two police officers were told to stand at the cash register until her father finished purchasing the produce.
“I remember how bad that felt. And my dad went to the register, shook their hands, said thank you, paid for his things and not a word was said going home. I knew what had just happened,” Haley said. “That produce stand is still there and every time I drive by it, I still feel that pain. I realized that that Confederate Flag was the same pain that so many people were feeling.”
Although the Confederate flag as Ambassador Haley claims was not responsible for the murder of nine innocent lives, she understood that removing a historical symbol of slavery and white supremacy helped South Carolinians move forward after the traumatic shooting. Her empathy dealing with the situation is an exemplary trait for any political leader, especially a president. At first supporting the heritage of the Confederate flag, Ambassador Haley’s ability to adapt her decision on a controversial matter according to the needs of community members especially after an experience both horrendous to the masses, while at the same time deeply personal to several families, is also an important quality of a good political leader.
Though her governorship of South Carolina is surely commendable, she has flourished in her new role as U.S. Ambassador to the UN, despite criticisms of her lack of experience in foreign relations and diplomacy. In November 2016, president-elect Donald Trump recommended the former governor as a “proven dealmaker,” adding that “we look forward to making plenty of deals and she will be a great leader representing us on the world stage.”
As a strong supporter of the state of Israel already during her governorship, the former governor of SC signed a law to end the efforts of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which was the first of its kind on a state-wide level. In her opening statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as a UN ambassador nominee, she said, “nowhere has the UN’s failure been more consistent and more outrageous than in its bias against our close ally Israel.”
Giving up her governorship to make a difference on the world stage, Ambassador Haley accepted her new role feeling a “sense of duty” to her country and fellow Americans, even willing to set aside her previous differences with President Trump. Once adamant about criticizing President Trump calling him “everything a governor doesn’t want in a president,” Ambassador Haley admitted to denouncing him for threatening a ban on majority Muslim nations, attacking Mexican illegal immigrants and not facing sexual harassment allegations.
While at first supporting Senator Marco Rubio during the Republican primary race before finally endorsing Senator Ted Cruz, Ambassador Haley voted for Trump in the election, describing him as a “friend and supporter.” Even though Ambassador Haley supports President Trump today, she still holds true to her own beliefs. For example, by encouraging women everywhere to come forward with their traumatic, sexual harassment experiences. “I know he was elected, but women should always feel comfortable coming forward and we should all be willing to listen to them.”
Her recent announcement of a $285 million UN budget cut for 2018-2019 shows a commitment to the American populace who has voiced their desire to cut the UN budget, despite it being a difficult move to make. Her announcement came after President Trump threatened to cut off U.S. funding to countries that voted in favor of a UN resolution calling for the U.S. to withdraw from plans to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The vote came up 128-9 in favor of the U.S. dropping its plans. “We will no longer let the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of or remain unchecked,” Haley said. “When we make generous contributions to the UN, we also have a legitimate expectation that our goodwill is recognized and respected.”
“When a nation is singled-out in an attack, that nation is disrespected. What’s more that nation is asked to pay for that privilege of being disrespected. In the case of the United States, we asked to pay more than anyone else for that dubious privilege.” Addressing the nations that voted against the resolution, Ambassador Haley called it an “insult” that “won’t be forgotten” among the American people. In her speech to members of the UN General Assembly, Ambassador Haley fearlessly shows that Americans need to stand up for what is right and end this disrespect toward American generosity.
Even though Hillary Clinton did not have the privilege of being named America’s first female president, Ambassador Haley said that Clinton inspired her to go into politics after a speech she gave in 2003. Haley recalled that Clinton said “there will be all these reasons that people tell you that you can’t do it. She said that there’s only one reason for you to do it, and it’s because you know it’s the right thing.”
In her own consideration of women running for the Oval Office, Haley said: “We should try to keep any barrier from preventing a someone from running for office. Now when a woman runs for president it won’t be a big deal, it shouldn’t be a big deal.” While it may not be in Ambassador Haley’s future either, the privilege of being called “Madame President” may be in her future if she so chooses.