On October 9th, President Donald Trump announced the resignation of Nimrata “Nikki” Haley from her post as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. Haley will leave her post by the end of this year. Coming just four weeks before the midterm elections, this unexpected announcement was a surprise to the public, as well as to members of the Trump administration. Many speculations have been made as to why she stepped down from this position including financial considerations for her college-bound children. In any case, the resignation from the U.N. could have visible consequences for the future.
Haley’s notable political career began when she ran and eventually won a seat in the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2004. She later won reelection in 2006 and 2008. As a Republican, she campaigned on the traditional platform of the party, including tax cuts, abortion restrictions, and immigration. As a child of legal Indian immigrants, she expressed stricter enforcement of immigrant laws. Haley ran for governor of South Carolina in 2010 with the support of the Tea Party movement. During her campaign, she was endorsed by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin – both key figures of the Republican Party at that time. She made history by becoming the first woman and the first person of an ethnic minority to hold governorship in South Carolina. She was also the second Indian-American governor in U.S. history. Once Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016, he selected Haley to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.; the Senate confirmed her in 2017 and she later resigned from her position as governor of South Carolina.
During Haley’s leadership as U.S. Ambassador, she supported placing strong sanctions on North Korea and visited Syrian refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan, all while challenging human rights violators across the world. According to USUN, under Haley’s leadership “the United States has taken a strong stand against the chronic anti-Israel bias at the United Nations.” Although USUN hailed her as championing for human rights, she recently proposed to reform the Human Rights Council; one demand was the elimination of Agenda Item 7, a special category addressing rights violations in Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.
The selection of a U.S. Ambassador is important not only because he or she will have the responsibility of representing the country on an international stage, but also because of the tremendous power the U.S. has on the U.N.’s Security Council. To delve deeper into Haley’s resignation, it is necessary to analyze the three aspects of her unique presence on the political scene that contributed to her success.
In today’s polarized political environment, a politician that receives support from members of both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party is a rarity as is a senior Trump administration appointee that is liked by both parties. Haley was unique because she occasionally challenged the Trump administration, which gained her support from Democrats without losing too much support from Republicans. According to Quinnipiac University’s nationally-reputed poll from earlier this year, Haley received a 55% approval rating from Democrats. This was much greater than the 38% approval rating received by President Trump from overall voters in another recent Quinnipiac University poll. Haley’s tendency to stray from the Republican Party was evident well before she became a Trump administration appointee. In 2015, the then-South Carolina governor supported the removal of the Confederate flag at the state capitol after a racially motivated and deadly killing of members of a black Charleston church. During this time, many Republicans did not view the Confederate flag as racist and disagreed with the removal of the flag. However, Haley was able to enlist the support of the Republican Party in South Carolina to eventually take down the Confederate flag at the statehouse. This unorthodox move from a Tea Party Republican garnered an 84% approval rating among Tea Party supporters, according to a Winthrop University poll.
The strong bipartisan support gained Haley the reputation of being a competent, honest broker able to accurately represent the interests of the United States at the U.N. An ambassador that holds the interests of each side of the political spectrum will more likely be seen to represent the overall values and interests of the country.
Relationship with President Trump
Many times Haley publicly admitted that she did not agree with President Trump on certain issues. When Haley addressed the anonymous “resistance” letter that was released in early September, she admitted that she doesn’t “agree with the president on everything.” For example, when President Trump called for the “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” in 2015, Haley criticized the proposal as “absolutely un-American” and “unconstitutional.” Despite her criticism of Trump before he won the presidency, he still respected her enough to appoint her onto his administration. Additionally, when asked about the allegations of sexual misconduct against President Trump, she responded on CBS News’ “Face of the Nation” that “women who accuse anyone should be heard. They should be heard and they should be dealt with…and I think any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up.”
Although she has not been an avid Trump supporter, Haley has expressed pride in working for President Trump and has been loyal to him on many of his decisions, including his controversial move to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. When Haley resigned her post as U.S. Ambassador, President Trump said Haley was “someone who was special to me” and that “she’s done a fantastic job.” Haley’s ability to speak out against President Trump and yet remain in his good graces has bolstered her credibility.
Haley’s status of a woman and one of Indian descent is uncommon in the Republican Party. Diversity is lacking in the party, and data prove this claim. According to a 2018 Pew study, 83% of Republicans are white. Additionally, the Republican base is mostly male. The Pew study concludes that the Republican Party is “dying” because of a lack of diversity. This trend is evident in public offices such as Trump’s cabinet. In an administration made up of mostly white males, Haley’s identity elevated her profile. She was seen as part of the Republican Party’s efforts to diversify its leaders and base. Her resignation from Trump’s cabinet will leave only 5 women and 2 people of a minority. If she is not replaced by a woman and/or a minority, the administration will be one step closer to eroding their diversity.
Nikki Haley’s characteristics as a politician and presidential appointee made her an optimal U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Her identity and experience should offer President Trump suggestions on what her replacement should be. A good candidate would be an individual who comes from a diverse background, one that stands out from the rest of the typical members of Trump’s cabinet. Additionally, for an ambassador to gain the trust from the U.S. and U.N., the replacement must know their own mind and one who is unintimidated by President Trump. Haley represents a strong-willed member in President Trump’s cabinet. Her resignation could decrease the trust and competence of the Trump administration, especially on the international stage. Whoever President Trump may pick, it will be difficult to find someone who has the leadership skills that Haley exhibited.