Say that now — and rinse and repeat until the 2024 Republican presidential primaries begin. Whether or not former President Donald Trump runs again, there will be inevitable talk of potential Republican candidates who might bring the party closer to the center by championing the importance of governance and the need to establish a big tent if the GOP is going to remain viable long-term.
Whenever this conversation kicks off, the former South Carolina governor quickly rises to the top of the list of people who could fit that profile.
Alluding to the Black Lives Matter protests and the debate over systemic racism, Haley said progressives are denying the “massive progress” the US has made in becoming a more “colorblind” society, later adding that having lived the American story, she can attest that it is “not a racist country.”
She also said, “We need to acknowledge he let us down. He went down a path he shouldn’t have, and we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him. And now we can’t let that ever happen again.”
While she herself often tried to steer clear of the biggest controversies of Trump’s presidency, she should shoulder some responsibility for the harms his administration inflicted on the country.
But Trump was, of course, fabricating lies of widespread election fraud — and those lies threatened to destabilize our democracy. Haley went on to bash the president in the aftermath of the January 6 attack, then said in April that she would support him if he runs in 2024 — an endorsement not just of the man himself, but what his four years in office unleashed.
Of course, Haley reflects the nature of the GOP in 2021. The radicalization of the party means that even those who are seen as moderate often fold in the face of Trump’s tactics and take up his talking points. Haley’s red-meat rhetoric at the Reagan library was utterly predictable and the speech was likely a preview of what Republicans candidates will sound like going into 2024.
There’s no going back. Trump remains popular within the GOP and voters need to be clear that his version of the Republican Party — not some imagined moderate alternative — is here to stay.
That is all the more obvious when almost every Republican, from Haley to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is still swayed by Trump and his followers.