Credit: Lloyd Sederer, M.D.
It’s Presidential Primary time, and I am a registered (no party affiliation) voter in New Hampshire. I received a text invitation to an evening at Nikki Haley Town Hall at the Opera House in Derry, New Hampshire, a half-hour drive from our home. My wife (also no party affiliation) and I went.
The Derry main street was alive with small groups of people heading to the Opera House. Inside were folding chairs placed on every spare bit of room, which formed about a fifteen-foot square space in the dead center of the room for you know who. It was SRO, including on the balcony.
Former Governor and former United Nations Ambassador Haley soon appeared. She was heartily welcomed by the crowd. She sat down to hear her rousing introduction by a retired, “Granite Stater”, US Army Brigadier General, which she seemed heart warmed and honored by. Governor Haley then rose to a standing ovation by a crowd of several hundred Granite Staters. She was casually dressed, befitting NH, in a white, cable knit sweater and blue jeans, youthful yet mature. Haley had the air of someone you would not want to reckon with. A velvet glove combatant.
Her stump speech was built on three foundations: being unwaveringly positive, driven by performance (not performative), and demanding proof from our untrustworthy world. She spoke with certainty, intelligence, and grace, as a Republican primary election candidate for President of the United States.
Who is Nikki Haley? An improbable, small town, South Carolinian, etched by a small, family business, mother of two young adults, a husband in the National Guard, a trained accountant (!) who beat a 30-year incumbent to become a state legislator, then marched on to become the state Governor (2011-2017), and, most recently, became the United States Ambassador to the United Nations (2017-2018), in the Trump administration. Those are not small or dismissible credentials, which she offered with a mixture of humility, unbridled conviction, and determination.
Haley had to clear the air about working for former President Trump, which she quickly dispatched with. She acknowledged her initial pride in her appointment then moved on to her description of Trump as chaotic, and I paraphrase, “wherever he goes and whatever he does now is chaotic.” It was time for a new chapter, a different Republican President, she urged.
We heard her offer her positions on: Congressional Republicans, driven by their “pet projects”, not by the common good; on fentanyl, the deadly synthetic opioid “from China”; social media, especially TikTok, a “Chinese invader”; the senescence of the Senate and the need for Congressional term limits; the massive, federal, Covid appropriations with no clear or measurable goals and a lot of money still unspent; our turning our backs on returning Veterans after taking pride in their service; Russia, China, and North Korea; Israel’s right to defend itself, indefinitely and unwaveringly, with US support and weapons against Hamas, who swears to continue to destroy the Jewish state; the necessity of steadfast support and armaments for Ukraine, lest it become part of Putin’s Russia; North Korea’s brazen development and testing of nuclear weapons; the power of the US dollar; our terribly porous US borders; the shame and continuing consequences of President Biden’s decision for the US to abruptly leave Afghanistan; that states, not the federal government, should execute on what have become federal program wastelands; and the sorrowful state of American healthcare, being sure to touch on the growing mental health problems of America’s youth, among other light topics. That’s the range.
There was little time for detail or subtlety in this panorama of the state of our Union and our world, nor would one expect that in a primary election stump speech. Though there were clear assertions that private enterprise could solve many of our country’s most vexing problems, a dubious position at odds with my view as a former 20-year government public health official, where privatization and corporatization are unrelentingly destroying the American health care services that you, your families, and I rely upon.
Nikki Haley, Republican primary candidate for President, finished with two declarations. First, “that if you mess with me and my country, there will be hell to pay”, and second, the “best has yet to come”, as she reported it resoundingly did under her watch as Governor of South Carolina.
Ms. Haley’s clear, smart, definitive, energetic, engaging, and unfettered messages on a host of complex, chronic problems were utterly refreshing and most welcome, even if you might not agree with them. Her confidence and resolve seemed unshakeable. She had the stature of a future President of the United States of America.
Corporate Healthcare is a Dog Eat Dog business.
Coming, January 9, 2024, my new book, Caught In The Crosshairs Of American Healthcare