As women have made strides towards equality with men, numerous elections have been dubbed “the year of the woman.” Or perhaps they should have been called “the year of 55% of the women,” because the triumphant female candidates have invariably been Democratic. Republican women have yet, as of now, to enjoy a moment of political ascendency, but that disappointment may yield to triumph in 2024.
The catalyst for their rise could be former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who announced her candidacy for president today. Haley has taken on the fearless–and thankless–task of being the first Republican to enter the primary against Donald Trump. She’ll inevitably face degradation and abuse from the malevolent ex-president. But what, throughout history, have women endured but these very indignities?
As a liberal, I’m no fan of Haley. But in her confidence and political skill, she offers a role model to women long marginalized within the Republican Party. Haley also practices a style of politics that may appeal to the affinities of Republican women. To wit, she’s no culture warrior, and women have always been less socially conservative than men. That’s part of why suffragists argued women would play a salutary role as voters from the beginning.
Nikki Haley’s potential niche among women voters becomes clear when one considers the tone we’re sure to see from the two Republican frontrunners. Both Trump and Ron DeSantis are inveterately aggressive, drenched from head to toe in toxic masculinity. While Republican women stayed loyal to Trump, many of them supported the former president only with deep qualms about his temperament and values. A sunnier and more stalwart woman Republican could draw them into her camp with a sense of relief.
The prospect of Nikki Haley becoming President of the United States is heartening only in its implications for women’s potential in this country. Her run, if powered by women voters could, however, have a highly beneficial effect on the Republican Party. Large parts of the GOP’s pathologies flow from the toxic stew of unrestrained masculinity in which the party marinates. By building a coalition of women to win the nomination, Nikki Haley could do our country a great service.
Alexander Jones is an original contributor to PoliticsNC.
I remember Nikki Haley for two things: (1) calling labor unions and members of labor unions “cockroaches” for having the nerve to want to be treated decently by management, and (2) having no problem when people mistook her ethnicity as Native American (e.g. Cherokee). She was a mediocre governor who has no future in the extremist MAGA party.
Research shows (really) that R men are quite hesitant to vote for women. Maybe this is changing among younger Rs at least, but until those older guys who are such a big chunk of their voter base start being willing to vote for women in larger numbers, women candidates running as Rs start at a serious disadvantage. This tendency is also self-reinforcing, in that men tend to win the primary, so are the ones who go on to be elected, so the face of the R party people in office or leadership positions remains distinctly male.
like our other well know SC politician, Lindsey Graham, Nikki goes where her polling tells her. She is an opportunist with no anchor. She was actively opposed to removing the confederat flag before the Charleston church slayings changed public sentiment. She has a fine line to tread between the extremes of the Republican party. She is auditioning for VP.
“she’s no culture warrior” ?? Really ?? Have you Listened to her opening salvo ??
I understand where you are coming from with respect to women playing a larger role in politics. There is no doubt there are women out there who are quite qualified and capable of being president, but Haley is not one of them. She is currently polling at 4% and has jumped back and forth between admiration and disgust for Trump, it is amazing she has not injured herself. Based on Trump’s history of attacking his opponents by name calling and propaganda , I seriously doubt she will not suffer long term damages to her reputation and standing. If her intent in running is to be selected for the vice president’s spot on the ticket, this could damage the possibilities of the presidential candidate’s success.
There is another Republican congressperson who currently represents South Carolina’s first district in the US Congress. Nancy Mace who appears to be a rising star in the GOP. She has remained consistent in her view of Trump. Currently she may not have the name recognition of Haley, but that could be remedied.