After former President Donald Trump formally launched his 2024 presidential run in November, a favorite parlor game of the chattering class has been to guess the identity of his first formally announced challenger for the Republican nomination. This week answered that question: Nikki Haley. The former governor of South Carolina and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is set to declare her candidacy for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination in Charleston, South Carolina, on Feb. 15. (N.B. deeply unpopular former national security adviser John Bolton made an offhand remark to a British television station last month that he would also run, but since then has merely intimated he is considering such a bid.)
Haley’s announcement will likely open up the floodgates for additional Trump challengers. Just as Haley had barely made an effort of late to contain her 2024 presidential ambitions, so too might we expect announcements to soon follow from other not-so-thinly-veiled aspirants, such as former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State and CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and perhaps former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. Later this spring or early summer, numerous other candidates are poised to also enter the fray: chief among them Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and perhaps also Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, 2016 GOP presidential primary runner-up Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) or Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC). Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has also been teasing a possible presidential run, despite his rather dubious credentials.
All of this will be sorted out in due time — by June or July of this year, at the latest. And as we approach that time, the key question facing the Right, and the Republican Party that is the Right’s natural partisan vehicle, is whether it will seize upon the Trump phenomenon and move forward, or instead move backward to the pre-2016 GOP status quo ante. Put another way: Was “Trumpism” a one-time flash in the pan based around an eponymous larger-than-life personality and universal celebrity status, or was it a substantive wake-up call for the GOP to ditch its outmoded bromides and sober up on issues pertaining (especially) to trade, immigration, and foreign policy?
There is at least some reason for optimism that the latter formulation is correct.
In the current way-too-early 2024 polling for the presidential nomination, DeSantis consistently polls by far the best of any non-Trump alternative. DeSantis also happens to embody the tenets and overall ethos of the more nationalist- and populist-infused “New Right” movement better than almost any other current elected official in America. He is a fiery culture warrior who dives headfirst into the fight against woke-ism, with a clear appreciation of the governing imperatives to wield power in the service of good political order and to recapture institutions previously lost to woke-ism. His well-publicized fight last year against The Walt Disney Company was straight out of the “New Right” playbook: Wield political power to punish a woke corporation pushing insidious gender ideology and to protect parental rights and the innocence of children.
More recently, DeSantis claimed a huge scalp from the College Board when it revised its AP African American Studies curriculum after the Florida governor objected to the initial course framework’s pervasive indoctrinatory leftism, including its suffusion of critical race theory pablum. His latest much-publicized moves with the New College of Florida’s board of trustees, furthermore, perfectly demonstrates how one can prudentially wield power to recapture and reorient woke-addled institutions. Even on his signature issue, COVID-19, DeSantis did not reflexively defer to private-sector actors, as many libertarians or right-liberals might have; rather, he properly wielded power to preclude private-sector vaccine mandates, demonstrating a recognition of the manner in which professional-managerial class elites weaponized such mandates against dissenting “deplorables.”
President Trump, along with some of his loudest social media supporters, have recently taken to smearing DeSantis as a clone of former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), who perfectly personifies the older chamber of commerce-friendly GOP. That is laughable; Ryan, now a distinguished visiting fellow at the neoliberal American Enterprise Institute, would object to most, perhaps all, of DeSantis’ moves mentioned above.
On the other hand, there are a number of possible 2024 candidates who do embody the failures of the pre-2016 GOP status quo ante.
The foreign policy-centric Pompeo, for instance, has recently sounded a lot like Bush-era Donald Rumsfeld when he has opined on the Russo-Ukrainian war, defining America’s purported national interest at a cartoonishly high level of abstraction and urging for ever-more taxpayer-funded weapons shipments. Haley, for her part, gives off the strong impression of a “market can do no wrong”-style laissez faire fundamentalist, denigrating “hyphenated capitalism” — such as Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) proposal for “common good capitalism” — and hilariously tweeting in March 2020, on the precipice of the COVID-19 lockdowns, that “as we are dealing with changes in our economy, tax cuts are always a good idea.” Hogan and Suarez, for their part, both encapsulate the Republican National Committee’s infamous advice found in its post-2012 presidential election “autopsy”: namely, to soften on immigration, avoid those icky “culture war” issues and focus on economic issues more palatable for suburbia. Trump’s win four years later single-handedly proved the myopia of such thinking.
Assuming most of these likely 2024 contenders do indeed make the plunge, Republican primary voters will face a big decision. Let’s hope they choose to move forward, not backward — in terms of repeating either discredited public policy or, as the case may be, repeating sullied candidates.
To find out more about Josh Hammer and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
Now that a hat has been tossed in the ring, except people really don’t wear hats these days, the gauntlet thrown down, they certanly don’t wear armor either, announcing intentions sounds lame after such colorful challenges but I’ll go with it. It is going to be very interesting who the party elite, the arbiters of the party who usually ignore the will of the rank and file members will use their influence and back against Donald trump!
While i like Haley, she’s had SOME mistakes… I’d rather see her run as Destanti’s vp.
After 4 years of the bouncing bungling boob of an androgenous duplicitous Democrat Biden, what is needed is not another estrogen driven pleaser, based on supposed gender equity or opportunity to grab the female vote whose glass shattered ceilings just make cutups of all Americans when gender is chosen over ability. American needs a strong male of immovable integrity that can Father figure a nation of socially depleted father absent men, the absence of which has most wondering if real American Men of success and integrity still actually exist. What the Biden’s have done in just 2 short years has done more to destroy American manhood, sorely in need of reestablishment, it might just take more than 2 terms to reverse the damage. If left undone, males and females alike will continue to suffer from the implanted delusions of what real men can and used to accomplish. China can’t wait to take on an American nation of testosterone neutered ninnies, too afraid to offend lest their females who control the satiations of their most basic desires for pleasure, that might get cut off like a Pelosi getting hammered at the skullcap. More overdoses of estrogen driven men or women, will just promote more of the cancerous lumps that now grow within the American male breasts that used to contain hearts, unclogged with the plaques of pillaging political correctness.