The Case for a Temporary Alliance: Why SC Black Democrats Should Support Nikki Haley in the GOP Primary

Shifting dynamics in political strategy and African American voter influence

14 mins read

Challenging the Status Quo

In South Carolina’s political landscape, authentic Black voices often get drowned out by the constant hum of white noise caused by the soft racism generated by a small cartel of white liberals within the South Carolina Democratic Party. They have become experts at persuading Black Democrats to vote against the best interests of their communities and instead vote for what’s in the best interest of the state’s Democratic Party. Unfortunately, this paradigm is further reinforced by an even smaller group of Black Democrats who peddle plantation politics as a means to an end.

A Rare Opportunity

The current issue at hand, attempting to be drowned out, revolves around the notion of Democrats who didn’t participate in the past Democratic primary elections, as well as other liberal-leaning independents, being encouraged to vote in the upcoming open Republican primary for Nikki Haley. This move aims to give her an edge over Donald Trump, potentially aiding her victory in the South Carolina primary and bolstering her position for the Super Tuesday matchup. While the state’s Democratic party establishment strongly advises against it, there’s a growing contingent of Black Democrats advocating for participation in the Republican Primary for the former Governor. In my professional opinion, this is one of the best ideas Democrats have proposed in the last couple of decades. It’s no surprise that the Democrats opposing it belong to the same cartel that’s been at the helm of the party’s quarter-century losing streak.

In the recent Democratic primary, only approximately 130,000 votes were cast, marking a significant 75.93% decrease from the 2020 Democratic primary, during which around 540,000 people voted. The drop in voter turnout can be attributed to President Biden facing several long-shot candidates, which led many Democratic voters to abstain from participating in the primaries. Consequently, an estimated 410,000 Democratic voters remain eligible to vote in the Republican Primary should they decide to do so. This unique sequence of events has created a rare opportunity, particularly for Black voters in the state.

A Chance Encounter

Flashback to my time in the South Carolina legislature, one memory stands out vividly, etched into the fabric of my political experience. It was during my tenure working for the late Representative Joe Neal, a loss that still weighs heavily on my heart today. Rep. Neal had tasked me with fetching some aspirin from the nurse station in the capitol building. Despite his vague directions, I found myself wandering the State House, lost amidst its labyrinthine corridors, side rooms, and myriad unassuming doors that I had never noticed before. As I struggled to find my bearings, a well-dressed gentleman, whom I presumed to be a lobbyist, approached me and said, “Hey, you look lost.” I explained I was looking for the nurse station on behalf of Rep. Neal, sharing that it was only my second week on the job and I was still getting my bearings. He flashed a friendly smile and reassured me, “Oh, Rep. Neal’s a buddy of mine. You’re in good hands. C’mon, I’ll show you where it is.” As we strolled together, we exchanged small talk about the challenges of navigating the State House. His easygoing demeanor put me at ease.

At the time, it was a simple, unassuming encounter, but it is that very encounter that forms the foundation of this urgent essay today. It lies at the very heart of why I vigorously support the position urging all Democrats, especially African American voters, who are eligible to vote in the Republican primary, to do so and cast their ballot for Nikki Haley.

After I had obtained Rep. Neal’s aspirin, I thanked the gentleman for his assistance but realized I never got his name. “Excuse me,” I said, “I don’t remember getting your name.” He replied, “No problem. Happy to help. Rep. Neal showed me the ropes when I first got here.” He then simply stated, “Pinckney. Senator Clementa Pinckney.”

On June 17, 2015, Clementa Pinckney, the senior pastor at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, was assassinated during a Bible study. He, along with eight other parishioners, was killed by a 21-year-old white supremacist and Neo-Nazi named Dylann Roof.

In the days following the shooting, photos emerged of Roof holding a Confederate flag. Additionally, reports surfaced indicating that the car he drove had a Confederate flag license plate. When questioned by the police about the motive for the shooting, Roof stated, ‘he wanted to start a race war.’ These revelations prompted voices from both the Republican and Democratic sides of the aisle to call for the removal of the Confederate flag from the state capitol grounds.

Haley’s Decision: Removing the Confederate Flag

Over the subsequent weeks, an increasing number of voices called for the flag’s removal, accompanied by hundreds of inquiries from media outlets worldwide. All eyes turned to South Carolina and the Confederate flag that had flown on the statehouse grounds since 1961, not long after the centennial anniversary of the start of the American Civil War. This action was widely perceived as a response to the Civil Rights Movement and as a symbol of resistance to desegregation efforts.

In the tumultuous aftermath of the murders, then-Governor Haley faced the daunting task of deciding whether to call for the flag’s removal or allow it to remain. After several ambiguous statements about it being the legislature’s responsibility to decide the flag’s fate, Haley called a press conference on June 22, 2015, flanked by democratic Congressman Jim Clyburn, and Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, alongside state legislators and various other state elected officials, Haley unequivocally called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the state capitol grounds, using her authority as governor to call state legislators back to the statehouse for a special session to get it done, saying, “We are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer. The fact that people are choosing to use it as a sign of hate is something we cannot stand.”

Whether Haley’s decision stemmed from political influence, a pursuit of justice, or merely self-aggrandizement, when the moment of decision arrived, she found herself on the right side of history. In doing so, she inadvertently dealt a monumental blow against racism in our state, surpassing the collective efforts of our past three governors, one of whom belonged to the Democratic party.

Why Support Nikki Haley?

Rep. Neal once shared a quote with me by William Clay, stating that in politics, “there are no permanent enemies, nor permanent friends, only permanent interests.” Right now, the interests of African American voters, as well as Democrats and any other voting demographic that values democracy, should align with Nikki Haley to prevent Trump from becoming the Republican nominee for president. In South Carolina, African American voters’ permanent interests should be their families, communities, and businesses. Unfortunately, my 25 years of observation and participation in South Carolina politics have shown me that a small cartel of liberal white Democrats, along with a handful of African American Democrats who have pledged their allegiance to the party instead of their people, have been hugely successful in getting black voters in our state to consistently choose the permanent interests of the state’s Democratic Party over the permanent interests of our communities.

Oddly enough, this cartel hasn’t been able to convince the larger majority of South Carolina voters to vote for them in the 25 years since Jim Hodges was governor. Since then, South Carolina voters have rejected the policies of this cartel every election season. One would think an intelligent person would begin to scrutinize these policies after continuous failures in statewide campaigns, but that’s a story and a question for another day.

Strategic Impact and Leverage

Supporting Nikki Haley in the Republican primary offers a strategic advantage for African American voters. Her administration promises better outcomes for minorities, and her stance on removing the Confederate flag demonstrates a commitment to justice. By voting for her, African American voters can exert influence and shape the political landscape.

In the face of age-old political paradigms dominated by wealthy white men, the opportunity to influence both party nominations presents a groundbreaking shift. It’s not merely about ideology but about demanding policies that serve African American communities and empower their voices.

A Temporary Alliance

What’s being asked isn’t for African American voters to align with Nikki Haley’s policies or even personally prefer her over Joe Biden. It’s not even about claiming that Nikki Haley would be a better president than Donald Trump. It’s simply about trying to prevent a candidate from becoming the Republican nominee who has conspired to overthrow the government of the United States, incited sedition, conspired with a violent mob that attacked our nation’s Capitol building, threatening the lives of our elected leaders and causing the death of several of our nation’s law enforcement officers. This candidate has praised communist dictators, quoted mass murderers in his speeches, and made supportive statements of admiration for a Russian communist leader and megalomaniacs who is currently waging an unprovoked war on a democratic nation, resulting in thousands of innocent civilian deaths and who has put the world on the verge of World War III.

This is about making a political move that could potentially give a Republican candidate leverage in a way that she’s unlikely to get from Republican voters alone. This creates a strategic opportunity for African American voters to potentially influence who becomes the Republican nominee for president. This move would give black voters tremendous influence going into the general election, as for the first time in history, black voters would play a significant role in electing nominees for president from both parties, bolstering black political influence and compelling both parties to rethink their policies concerning African American communities and voters.

You may disagree with Nikki Haley, and that’s fine. All we ask is that if you are able to do so, on February 24th, you cast your vote for Nikki Haley in the Republican primary. Then, at 7:01 on February 24th, you can return to your efforts to prevent Nikki Haley from becoming President of the United States.

Michael Bailey, a trailblazer in the field of photojournalism and a profound political writer, possesses the exceptional ability to distill complex political issues into accessible narratives that resonate with readers of all backgrounds. As the vanguard of the editorial team, Michael not only serves as a new media correspondent but also showcases his distinct talent as a photojournalist. His portfolio is a testament to his expertise in crafting news stories and intimate profiles that vividly portray the cultural, social, economic, and political journeys of minorities, both in South Carolina and beyond. With a rich tapestry of experience spanning media, business, and politics, Michael has emerged as a highly regarded voice and a sought-after commentator, offering invaluable insights into the challenges faced by people of color.

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