Dan Gilmore / January 13, 2016

Nikki Haley’s State of the GOP Address

She was skewered for her thinly veiled critique of Donald Trump.

The rebuttal to the State of the Union Address: Over the last few years, it’s where the GOP has sent it’s most promising, up and coming leaders to politically die, or at least languish. Former Gov. Bobby Jindal stalled after delivering his. Sen. Marco Rubio was turned into a humor gag for grabbing a bottle of water mid-delivery. And South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, the woman who was supposed to be on every candidate’s short list for veep pick, was skewered for her thinly veiled critique of Donald Trump. “Today, we live in a time of threats like few others in recent memory,” Haley said. “During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation.”

This caused some of the professional talking heads to rain down condemnation. For example, Ann Coulter, political commentator turned Trump troll, suggested Trump deport Haley, the American-born child of Indian immigrants. Laura Ingraham said the establishment GOP shouldn’t be attacking its front-running candidate riding a populist groundswell.

But Haley wasn’t only taking a cheap shot at a controversial candidate. In a nine-minute speech, Haley laid the foundation for a conservative candidate ahead of the 2016 election. Just as Obama used the House chamber as a way to set the Democrat agenda, Haley used her speech to make the best case for conservative leadership.

“What Haley denounced was Trumpism — a paranoid, nationalist fever,” Noah Rothman opined. “It is, by definition, a minority sentiment. It cannot ascend to lead the nation because it seeks to shape a winning coalition though division and subtraction. For conservatives with an interest in seeing their governing agenda enacted, the rise of Trump is a threat. There is no sense in pretending it is not for fear of offending those with access to booming microphones.”

Yes, grassroots Patriots are angry. “You’ve paid attention to what has been happening in Washington, and you’re not naïve,” Haley said. “Neither am I. I see what you see. And many of your frustrations are my frustrations.”

But conservatives have to lead. They have to build a broad consensus, a wide group of people united for the common cause of Liberty. If the Republican Party rejects that, then Haley’s speech will be another weak State of the Union rebuttal in the face of an inevitable march towards socialism.

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