For some of us, it feels as though it was only yesterday that Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump and officially—and legally— snatched the US Presidency out of his hands. But in reality, that highly momentous election was over three years ago and with 2024 only a hop, skip and jump away, we’re now being confronted with the next highly anticipated race to the White House.
And while former President Trump might be planning a political resurrection, he’s going to have to face a challenger who is determined to make her mark on the Republican party and on the country.
Although Haley has been a prominent voice in US politics for over a decade, she’s remained relatively unknown among the general public. First rising in the Republican ranks in 2010 when she became the youngest Governor in the US, Haley quickly established herself as a conservative underdog with plans to reinvent and rejuvenate the Grand Old Party (GOP).
According to the BBC, Haley—who was South Carolina’s first female and Asian-American Governor—had a slow start to her campaign, however, she gained traction when she received high-profile endorsements from Mitt Romney and former Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin.
The politician is considered a mainstream conservative, holding predominantly right-wing fiscal and social beliefs. Haley has described herself as pro-life and has repeatedly supported legislation in South Carolina designed to curb access to abortion. Moreover, she signed a bill cracking down on illegal immigration in her first year as Governor and has since criticised President Biden’s border control policies. Haley has publicly confirmed that she supports—and would defend—gun rights.
As recognised by a number of political pundits, Haley’s most defining moment as Governor happened in 2015 when a white supremacist brutally murdered nine black worshippers in the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.
The shooting was one of the most heinous and racist attacks in US history and its impact reverberated throughout the country—particularly in South Carolina, where conversations around race and identity began to increase rapidly.
Haley’s initial response was to immediately condemn the attack and, after pictures emerged of the gunman carrying the Confederate flag, she called for it to be removed from the Capitol building. In fact, during the passing of the motion to take it down, she stated: “There is a place for that flag. It’s not in a place that represents all people in South Carolina.”
The Confederate flag of course has become an enduring symbol of racism within the US, having been adopted by hate groups and white supremacists.
While Haley’s initial actions following the shooting was deemed commendable, it was ultimately short-lived. In 2019, while appearing on a conservative radio show, Haley stated that the Confederate flag symbolised “service, sacrifice and heritage” for some people in her state until the Charleston shooter “hijacked” it, as reported by The New York Times.
The politician went on to note that the national media had wanted to define the shooting on their own terms. “They wanted to make this about racism. They wanted to make it about gun control. They wanted to make it about the death penalty,” Haley argued.
Her statements received major backlash online, particularly from those who felt as though she’d completely contradicted her own celebrated move to remove the flag four years prior. Indeed, it doesn’t take an expert to see how insensitive and problematic it is to claim that the flag was a symbol of sacrifice prior to the shooting, when in reality it’s been a stark physical representation of oppression and racism for over a century.
When it comes to Trump, Haley’s been both a proponent and critic. As reported by NBC News, when Trump first rose to power, Haley deemed him an “irresponsible” and “angry” voice, even going as far as to say that “I will not stop until we fight a man that chooses not to disavow the KKK. That is not a part of our party. That is not who we are.”
So, from this you’d think that Haley was very much anti-orange. However, not even a year into Trump’s administration, the South Carolina politician had definitely changed her tune. In November 2016, Haley accepted the position of ambassador to the United Nations. And at the 2020 Republican National Convention, the Governor stated: “Donald Trump has always put America first. And he has earned four more years as president.”
But wait, there’s another twist in the story. Following the 2021 Capitol riots, Haley was overwhelmingly critical of Trump and insisted that his actions and involvement with the violence would be “judged harshly by history,” as disclosed by Politico.
Trump is facing a far harsher political landscape going into the 2024 election cycle, and his chances are hard to quantify. He’s going to have to rebuild his image in the minds of both the Republican establishment and the conservative public. Although, as much as we’d like to, it would be unwise to underestimate the sheer influence of Trump—despite his endless list of flaws.
Will Haley become the new right-wing sweetheart? Or will she simply remain to be another one of the GOP’s misguided cronies, attempting to rid the world of what they like to call extreme liberal wokeism?
Donald Trump is one of the most controversial political figures of the 21st century. His approach both in business and politics has been impulsive, chaotic, dangerous and, more often than not, completely void of truth or logic. Trump has made a name for himself by perpetuating false narratives and inflaming theories that support his own personal opinion. While we thought we might have seen the back of him, chances are—at least for the near future—he’s here to stay.
While you might have expected the former commander-in-chief to have taken a step back from the spotlight and lay low in his Mar-a-Lago Floridian beach house, Trump’s name hasn’t left the headlines. However, within all of the chatter, two particular investigations stand out.
The first is in relation to the Capitol riots that took place in January 2021. The hearings, held by the US House Select Committee, were put in place to investigate and examine Trump’s direct involvement in coordinating and encouraging the violence and anarchy that took place on January 6th.
As reported by CNBC, through testimony and video evidence, the hearings found that Trump’s refusal to condemn the violent mob displayed a “supreme dereliction of duty.” Trump has—as predicted—referred to the committee as a “witch hunt.”
The second and most recent investigation is being conducted by the FBI. It pertains to a number of classified documents being held at—drum roll, please—Trump’s Mar-a-Lago beach house. As reported by The New York Times, at least 11 sets of classified or confidential documents have been seized from Trump’s home. The 45th US president has a love-hate relationship when it comes to handing over important documents. As some of you may remember, In 2016, he repeatedly refused to hand over his tax returns.
A spokesperson for the president, Taylor Budowich, allegedly called the FBI investigation a “Democrat-fabricated witch hunt” while Trump himself made the groundless claim that officials may have planted evidence at his property during the search.
As Trump’s erratic behaviour post-election only further crystallised his danger and volatility for most of us, his fan-base embraced the #StopTheSteal rhetoric and dove even deeper into the Trump-sphere.
Despite Trump being in some pretty hot water with the establishment, his core followers remain loyal. You only have to look at recent polls to see the tight grip the former president has over his many supporters. Vanity Fair recently reported that in a recent straw poll held at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), wherein guests were asked who they’d rather have as the next Republican Presidential nominee, Trump received 69 per cent of the vote.
Politico interviewed Jim McLaughlin, a Trump campaign pollster who conducts the CPAC straw polls, and reported on how he found that not only was the former president’s influence far from waning, it was going up. McLaughlin witnessed a 99 per cent approval rating for Trump among attendees.
One of the main ways in which Trump has captured the conservative right is by feeding into conspiracies. During his term, he single-handedly helped to bring ‘fake news’ into the mainstream.
He is also inextricably linked to the biggest internet conspiracy of them all, QAnon. According to journalist Kevin Roose, QAnon has repeatedly referred to Trump as a “brave patriot” who was placed in charge of America to rip down the establishment and restore justice. Furthermore, as Roose explained, QAnon is uniquely participatory and the insurgence of the Capitol in 2021 was a prime example of the extreme seriousness of these online internet communities and how they can directly spill into real life.
Even after the riots, officials warned that QAnon’s violence would only escalate. January 6th saw virtual online threats and hysteria become a reality. These ‘digital soldiers’ are unpredictable and their illogical thinking makes them a constant threat to civilians.
In the case of the recent FBI investigation, far-right extremists have already made their feelings known. NPR reported that an armed man had tried to breach an FBI building in Cincinnati, and that after a six hour stand-off, the suspect was shot and killed. The man was identified as Ricky Walter Schiffer, a frequent visitor of Trump’s very own pro-Trump social media platform, TRUTH Social. Since the raid on the former president’s house, an account under Schiffer’s name had been calling for violent action against the FBI and for an insurrection against all those who have been targeting Trump.
The former business mogul turned president has always found a way to centre himself within these conspiracy theories, automatically helping him to act as the glue for an online community with only one goal: to get him back into office. As per National Geographic, Trump has “weaponised motivated reasoning.” He witnessed people turning to misinformation and falsehoods in search of restoring control and understanding, and used this to his advantage.
In March 2021, the real-estate-mogul-turned-politician sat down with daughter-in-law Lara Trump on her podcast, The Right Move. When asked if there was hope for a 2024 re-election bid, Trump assured her, “You do have hope. We love our country—this country. We all owe a lot to our country but now we have to help our country.”
Since Trump is still banned from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, we don’t have updates from the man himself. However, from observing his behaviour and with so much of his dirty laundry being hung out to dry, it would be safe to say that he’s buckling up for his next big charade. 2024 is only around the corner, everyone… Brace yourselves.