Nikki Haley shouldn't quit
Without an alternative, the GOP will cease as a party and become a repository for conspiracy theories and radicalized thugs.
There’s a deluge of hot takes this morning, so I’ll be short and to the point. First, the polls were right. The polls were right in Iowa and they were right in New Hampshire. That means they’re likely right in South Carolina, where the RCP average shows Trump with a 30 point lead. Possibly Haley could narrow that, but her chance of winning is about nil. Haley has vowed not to quit after losing New Hampshire by 11 points. Ron DeSantis also vowed to stay in, right up until he suspended his campaign.
Many folks and political analysts think Haley is finished and should pack it in. But she shouldn’t. This has nothing to do with high-falutin’ political talk of “let the voters decide” and “we don’t want a coronation.” Trump voters are too numerous and too amorous of their candidate, and they do want a coronation. The voters have spoken so far, and continue to speak. I think that shortly after Super Tuesday, the delegate battle will be clear, unless something extraordinary happens.
I think Nikki Haley should stay in for practical reasons. First, if the last remaining challenger exits, then the GOP might as well disband and call itself the Trump Party. You might think that’s already happened, and to a large extent, it has. But there are still rules, and delegates, and a convention. If Haley goes now, all those things will be moot, with Trump running like an incumbent. You might say he’s basically an incumbent, but he’s not.
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By all the political laws (not as in “legal” but as in what decency demands), Trump should not be running. He left office in disgrace, having never conceded the 2020 race. He is under nine (I think) felony indictments, which, should Trump not win in November, eventually will bloom into convictions, with possible jail time. Donald Trump is highly motivated to stay out of jail, and will do whatever extra-political, indecent, and even extra-legal things necessary to achieve that goal. Nikki Haley represents the last vestige of decent politics.
She will be under enormous pressure to quit. Remember the 2016 Republican National Convention. Trump wanted it to be a coronation, but there were flies in the ointment, namely Ted Cruz. There was physical intimidation going on at the convention, with Roger Stone’s thugs threatening delegates. Cruz stood up and said “vote your conscience” and then was broken so hard his soul ejected from his body, never to return. All that’s left of Ted Cruz is a toady—a shrill and obedient Trump servant.
Time after time, those who stood up to Trump were broken, because politics to Trump is not a decent affair. Sure, there have been dirty tricks and all kinds of subterfuge in American politics for most of our history. But Trump takes these things to a different level, mobilizing hundreds of thousands who are willing to resort to violence to place him in power and keep him there. Ashley Babbitt died for Trump on January 6th, 2021.
If Nikki Haley quits, these elements will become emboldened to be more radical. The results of the 2024 election will be secondary to their desire for Trump to win. There has to be some place for those who believe in decency to place their vote, their money, and their trust. Without Haley, those conservatives who support her simply become an anti-Trump effort, and we know that results in more radicalized Trumpists.
Online, one rando poster on X/Twitter called Haley a “warmongering whore.” I can handle online idiots, but when these spread to doxxing and physical threats, it crosses the line, and can overwhelm our legal system’s capacity to deal with it. I remember in 2016, Erick Erickson had to hire personal security because Trump supporters staked out his house and family. Rick Wilson was “swatted” a few weeks ago, the Tallahassee police showing up at his home at 3 am. These are not political campaign tactics, they are mob intimidation efforts.
Nikki Haley has to stay in to demonstrate that the “establishment” is not Trump’s mob, but an actual political party dedicated to the rule of law. Without her the GOP will be no more than a criminal mob—the one that Fani Willis described in a plot to interfere with Georgia’s election results.
You’ll see how Trump and his supporters stand behind election results where they win, like in New Hampshire, and many of the primaries to come. But in November, when their man loses by large margin (his support, nationally, tops out at 40 percent), they’ll once again claim it was Democrats “rigging” the election, though the same election officials ran both the primaries and the general election. I guess that makes it true that Democrats control everything and have arranged for Trump to be on the November ballot so they could rig the election against him.
I don’t want the GOP to cease to exist except as a repository for conspiracy theories and radicalized mob violence. Without Haley in the race, this is what the GOP will be. You might think it’s too late, and perhaps it is. But as long as Nikki Haley remains as a Republican alternative, we have a party. She will likely lose, but she will have delegates, and we will all see the thug behavior Trump will use to get her out.
Be strong, Nikki, and stay in.