S.C. Governor Nikki Haley stepped onto the national stage at the Republican National Convention last Tuesday night, joining a chorus of minority voices lending their support to a political party that is increasingly marginalized by the country's changing demographics. Her speech was a rousing call to the party faithful, but like so many other speakers on Tuesday night, Haley is sadly hitching her star to a party with no discernible message, no workable ideas, and an ideology that is equal parts confused and bankrupt.
On its surface, the GOP's clumsily blatant attempts at luring away minority, immigrant, and female voters from the Democratic Party might seem like effective strategy for a historically white male-dominated party in an increasingly minority-oriented country. However, fresh, young, and oh-so-different faces like Haley's parroting out the same discredited ideas is not doing the party any favors. The Grand Old Party is coasting on the fumes of nostalgia and misinformation in its quest to "take back America," and it is a sad thing to watch.
What is even sadder is that the party faithful do not seem to notice the incredible disconnect between the words spoken at the convention and the facts that dispute almost everything said in their speeches or the twisted logic required to make sense of the Republican rhetoric.
Haley, for instance, sees no problem being the proud daughter of immigrants while simultaneously railing against the Obama administration's "failure to protect our borders," never mind the fact that the number of immigrants deported by the Obama administration is on track to surpass the Bush administration over two terms. Instead of opening up the possibility that immigration reform should be more than just getting rid of illegal immigrants, Haley has attached herself to the failed GOP notion that outsiders are ruining the nation. They are not, but they are increasingly ruining the GOP since they do not often identify with American conservatives. If the GOP is trying to embrace diversity with speakers like Haley, they have a strange way of showing it.
Haley went on to express dismay at the federal government's intervention in another pet project of conservatives over the last two years: Voter ID laws. Here Haley, as every other conservative so far has done, attempts to compare the concept of showing ID to vote to showing ID to get on an airplane. The two couldn't be more different. Voting is a right of citizenship; traveling by jet is a privilege.
Still, despite there being no evidence of voter fraud to contend with, conservatives are hell-bent on making Voter ID an issue. Again, it boggles the mind that this sort of legislation is more important to them than creating jobs. Except that government does not create jobs, according to conservative logic — except, of course, when it does. After all, it is paramount that we slash spending in this country, but it will devastate areas like South Carolina that are dependent on defense spending.
While Haley started her speech with a nod to the GOP canard regarding President Obama's "you didn't build that" gaffe, she was at least smart enough not to tack it onto her comments regarding Boeing's presence in South Carolina. This is a good thing, as Boeing is the second largest government contractor, taking in $21 billion a year in taxpayer money, which is almost one-third of their operating revenue. For their efforts, they made a $9 billion profit last year and have laid off over 14,000 workers since 2008, while executive pay has increased to the tune of 31 percent. This does not take into account Boeing's generous incentive package granted it by the state of South Carolina.
Here is where the GOP rhetoric hits the tiny pebble of fact on the rails and careens over the cliff of insanity. Ignoring the entire social and collective structure of a country that makes individual success possible through the asinine posturing of "We Built This," the GOP suffers from a sort of collective amnesia about the many ways that its supporters benefit directly from government largesse. They continue to decry poor individuals and belittle them for accepting "government handouts" which make them "dependent on government for their needs from the cradle to the grave" while consistently ignoring the large corporations who siphon tax dollars from the people in a myriad and complex set of ways.
If that is not blind, ignorant hypocrisy, I am not sure what is. How much longer the GOP plans to sustain itself on this sort of rhetoric is unclear. What is clear, though, may lie in the ironic headline about Nikki Haley found in The Post and Courier the Sunday before her GOP Convention speech. "From Lexington to Tampa, Haley's rise is meteoric," but as one commenter pointed out, "Meteors do not rise." They fall.
Words of wisdom, conservatives. You should take heed.