Nikki Haley waves a warning flag about American politics

For those on any side or level of the political spectrum who truly feel the increasingly poisonous atmosphere of our politics is injurious to the welfare of our nation and the American people, I would advise you to drop everything to read and/or watch the speech just delivered at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) for Public Policy Research annual dinner by Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyJudd Apatow urges Georgia voters to get rid of Doug Collins after 'terrorists' comment Nikki Haley: Democratic leadership, 2020 Dems are the only people mourning Soleimani death Trump Jr., Ivanka garner support in hypothetical 2024 poll MORE, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and former governor of South Carolina. AEI presented Haley with its 2019 Irving Kristol Award, named for the late neoconservative journalist and given for "notable intellectual or practical contributions to improved public policy and social welfare." 

Haley’s remarks demonstrated pragmatic, unifying statesmanship at its finest. Within the body of her speech, Haley spoke to a very serious issue that threatens the intent and integrity of our Constitution. She said in part: 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpNational Archives says it altered Trump signs, other messages in Women's March photo Dems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process Democratic lawmaker dismisses GOP lawsuit threat: 'Take your letter and shove it' MORE is a disruptor. That makes some people very happy, and it makes some people very mad. But if we are a country that lives by the rule of law, we must all accept that we have one president at a time, and that president attained his office by the choice of the American people. 

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“When I was in the [Trump] administration, I served alongside colleagues who believed the best thing to do for America was to undermine and obstruct the president. Some wrote about it anonymously in The New York Times. Others just did it. They sincerely believed they were doing the right thing. I sincerely believed they weren’t. ... No policy disagreement with him, no matter how heartfelt, justifies undermining the lawful authority that is vested in his office by the Constitution. ... What’s at stake is not President Trump’s policies. What’s at stake is the Constitution.”

Haley could not be more correct or more prescient. Our Constitution is being threatened — be it by “sincere” and “heartfelt” concerns or by crass, partisan politics at its worst.

As one who worked in the White House for two Republican administrations and then at the Pentagon, I can attest to the fact that sometimes people from the opposite political party or with a different ideology do burrow into an administration and then try to obstruct the policies of the president and administration.

It’s a wrongful act of partisanship, which speaks to Haley’s greater point: “If you serve in the administration, you are not free to push your personal agenda.”

And yet it happens all the time and has negatively impacted White House administrations for decades. Unfortunately, as Haley also points out, with Donald Trump’s legal, legitimate election in 2016, this tendency by some within government to obstruct the administration’s policies not only appears to be on steroids now but also is headed in a very dangerous direction.

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President Trump — like any president before or to come — deserves the right to try to institute policy without the fear of partisan or ideological sabotage.  

Some Republicans, conservatives and others are asking, “Is this obstruction the accepted standard now? Do we tell our people to burrow into every office and every agency of the next Democrat who is elected president and then have them try to sabotage his or her agenda from within?”

Americans should remember that some things are much larger than partisan politics. The sanctity of the U.S. Constitution should be at the top of that list.

Nikki Haley deserves great credit for waving that warning flag and for surrounding the necessary message with words of unification that will speak to any and all Americans who are interested in moving our nation forward in a positive, productive manner.

Douglas MacKinnon, a political and communications consultant, was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration.