January 13

Nikki Haley Responds to Obama’s SOTU

Every year, the party that does not sit in the White House responds to the president’s annual State of the Union address. For the past eight years, the Republican Party finds a person that they think is an up and comer, and represents the message the party wants to say in response. In 2013, the person was Senator Marco Rubio, who now is running for president. In 2014, the person was Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rogers, who is the highest ranking GOP woman in Congress. Last year, it was newly elected Senator Jodi Ernst, who won a victory in Iowa that gave her a coveted senate office. Furthermore, on the eve of a presidential election, Ernst’s popularity is increasingly helpful in Iowa. This year, the GOP chose South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, moving outside the DC Beltway to a state that has been under much attention this year. So, why did they choose Haley? And what was her message?

First of all, Haley is the youngest governor in America. Haley is also the second Indian American governor in the United States (her full name is Nimrata Randhawa Haley), behind Governor Bobbi Jindal from Louisiana. Furthermore, political insiders have looked to her as a potential VP candidate, whomever the candidate may be. While serving in South Carolina’s state assembly, Haley was one of the first representatives to tackle illegal immigration, stating that as a daughter of immigrants, immigration laws should be enforced. Haley formulated a law that requires employees to check the legal status of employees, as well as requiring immigrants to carry legal documentation. The US Justice Department sued South Carolina for this law, and Haley’s spokesperson responded with the statement, “If the feds were doing their job, we wouldn’t have had to address illegal immigration reform at the state level. But, until they do, we’re going to keep fighting in South Carolina to be able to enforce our laws.”
Haley is controversial, however, in her decision to remove the Confederate State Flag from the capital grounds in South Carolina, following a racially motivated attack on a prayer group in her state. While saying that she understands this is a crucial part to the state’s history, and crucial to many families’ ancestry, the flag was being used as a symbol for hate, and for that reason, would no longer fly on state grounds. Haley did say, however, that those who wanted to fly the flag on personal property could do so.
But because of this tragic past event, and because of Haley’s records, she was the perfect person to embody the message that the Republicans wanted to give in response to President Obama. She addressed these two important aspects in her response, stating on immigration:
“We must fix our broken immigration system. That means stopping illegal immigration. And it means welcoming properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of their race or religion. Just like we have for centuries.”
She then went on to talk about the summer attack on a prayer group at Mother Emanuel church in Charleston, where nine innocent lives were taken. What she focused on, however, was how the state came together with love instead of hate. Haley said:
“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. We didn’t turn against each other’s race of religion. We turned toward God, and to the values that have made our country the freest and greatest in the world.”
Haley continued that the state “removed a symbol that was being used to divide us.”
While Obama’s speech stated that one of his biggest regrets was the current political division in Washington, Haley posed herself as a leader who could bridge the divide between the parties, and bring Americans together again. With her background and track record, she embodies this type of unity that people right now crave.