Governor Nikki Haley’s GOP response to this year’s State of the Union was a reminder hers is the party of “personal responsibility.” This is a mantra that has felt at times abandoned by its representatives; seemingly replaced with “Thanks, Obama.”
There was no mention of bread bags or desperately drinking from a water bottle as if she were a rescued castaway off “Gilligan’s Island.” This was the best GOP response in years.
“We need to be honest with each other, and with ourselves: while Democrats in Washington bear much responsibility for the problems facing America today, they do not bear it alone. There is more than enough blame to go around.
We as Republicans need to own that truth. We need to recognize our contributions to the erosion of the public trust in America’s leadership. We need to accept that we’ve played a role in how and why our government is broken.
And then we need to fix it.”
Haley’s take is as refreshing as an order of 30-piece Chicken McNuggets after an all-night drinking binge.
However, I disagree with Haley placing the majority of the blame on the Democratic Party, especially after the damaging gerrymandering the GOP did prior to the 2012 elections.
Referencing the non-partisan The Cook Political Report, the Nation Institute’s Lee Fang discussed the effects on the House races:
“In 2012, the first congressional election after the last round of gerrymandering, Democratic House candidates won 50.59 percent of the vote – or 1.37 million more votes than Republican candidates – yet secured only 201 seats in Congress, compared to 234 seats for Republicans. The House of Representatives, the “people’s house,” no longer requires the most votes for power.”
The GOP were still able to achieve a 33-seat majority in the House while losing the popular vote. I can’t imagine a bigger component in damaging our government.
Although Haley did not offer specific solutions to fix the system, Obama did during his address:
“We have to change the system to reflect our better selves. I think we’ve got to end the practice of drawing our congressional districts so that politicians can pick their voters, and not the other way around. Let a bipartisan group do it.
We have to reduce the influence of money in our politics, so that a handful of families or hidden interests can’t bankroll our elections.”
Detailing her own history as the daughter of Indian immigrants, Haley directly countered the hate and fear mongering by her own party’s leading presidential candidates on the issue:
“Today, we live in a time of threats like few others in recent memory. During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation.”
While Cruz and Trump have advocated a religious test for immigrants, Haley welcomes them in her speech “regardless of their race or religion.”
Considering in November Haley requested that the government does not settle any of the Syrian refugees in her state, this is a surprising and much welcomed change of view.
Although I find her comments regarding immigrants to be optimistic, she quickly takes a wrong turn when discussing the June mass shooting that resulted in nine deaths in a South Carolina black church.
“Our state was struck with shock, pain, and fear. But our people would not allow hate to win. We didn’t have violence, we had vigils. We didn’t have riots, we had hugs.”
Although she fails to mention the movement by name, Haley strangely makes room in her response to the State of the Union to repeat her 2015 criticism against the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Some people think that you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference. That is just not true. Often, the best thing we can do is turn down the volume.”
Sound familiar? This is nearly verbatim from Haley’s comments on BLM at the state capitol last September:
“Some people think that you have to yell and scream in order to make a difference,” Haley continues. “That’s not true. Often, the best thing we can do is turn down the volume level.”
A major detail the governor fails to mention when discussing the church shooting is that the white supremacist that committed the terror act was able to legally purchase a firearm due to a failure in the nation’s background check system.
What I learned from that tragedy is that our nation’s background check system needs to be reformed, including a potentially longer waiting period than just 72 hours.
Haley learned people advocating for a more equal justice system are loud and irritating.
“If we held the White House, taxes would be lower for working families…”
Nikki omits that the largest income earners receive a far larger tax cut than the middle and lower classes under the leading GOP candidates’ plans, insuring income inequality remains the norm.
Under the Trump plan, middle-income earners will see a 4.9% increase in after-tax income. However, the top 0.1% will receive a 19% increase.
Ted Cruz’s plan is actually worse for middle-income earners. Middle-incomes will see an after-tax income increase of 1.2-2.4%, while the higher-earning incomes will receive an increase of 17.4%. The top 1% get the biggest increase of 29.6%.
“We would respect differences in modern families, but we would also insist on respect for religious liberty as a cornerstone of our democracy.”
You don’t need a secret de-coder ring to know Haley is referencing same-sex couples.
Although I appreciate Haley’s acceptance of her fellow Americans, many of her party’s candidates do not.
Last year, Texas Senator Ted Cruz proposed a Constitutional amendment that would allow state legislatures to define marriage.
In December, Florida Senator Marco Rubio told “Meet the Press”’ Chuck Todd:
“Any future Supreme Court can change it. And ultimately, I will appoint Supreme Court justices that will interpret the Constitution as originally constructed.”
While Jeb Bush and John Kasich praised Haley’s speech via Twitter, Donald Trump questioned her stance on illegal immigration. When questioned by Fox News if Trump, as GOP front runner, would consider Haley as his Vice President, he responded she was “not off to a good start.”
Conservative author Ann Coulter went further, declaring on social media: “Trump should deport Haley.”
If Haley’s response showed the American people anything, it’s the picture of a divided party.