Washington

Nikki Haley chastises conservatives ‘who should know better’ about socialism

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is taking aim at conservatives who are comfortable with increased government intervention in the economy, striking a contrast with other Republicans eyeing higher office.

The 2024 presidential hopeful will say in a speech Wednesday at the Heritage Foundation that socialism has taken control in 2021 and the only way to stop it is for the political right to “recapture its passion for economic freedom.”

“Capitalism is on the outs for many conservatives who should know better,” Ms. Haley says in her prepared remarks. “They look at a rapidly changing world and assume our principles don’t work anymore. They see the rise of socialism and want to meet it halfway. They’re wrong.”

Ms. Haley does not name the conservatives in her prepared Margaret Thatcher Freedom Lecture, but she describes them as friends who have turned their backs on conservative principles and “similar to the frightened Tories [who] Margaret Thatcher faced in 1980.”

“You know what I’m talking about — the conservatives who claim capitalism no longer works,” says Ms. Haley, a former South Carolina governor. “They conclude that economic freedom fails families and hurts workers. So they’re trying to create a hybrid capitalism, a hyphenated capitalism. It’s all a sham.”

Ms. Haley’s remarks distance her from Republican presidential hopefuls who attended the National Conservatism Conference in Florida this week.

GOP Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Josh Hawley of Missouri made appearances at the conference that described its vision on its website as involving an “intellectually serious alternative to the excesses of purist libertarianism” including in economics.

Mr. Rubio first ruffled feathers in conservative circles in 2019, when he made a new push for “common-good capitalism” in which he said the market exists to serve the national interest and its people, in remarks at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

At the National Conservatism Conference this week, Mr. Rubio lambasted “outdated ‘Wall Street Journal Conservatism’” that focuses on cutting regulations and taxes.

Ms. Haley points to former President Donald Trump’s approach to regulation and the 2017 GOP tax overhaul as accomplishments to build upon and not turn away from.

“If all we’re offering is a cheaper welfare state or slightly less bad mandates, we will lose,” Ms. Haley says in the prepared remarks. “If the American people are asked to pick between actual socialism and a watered-down version, they’ll choose the real thing. Conservatives should know better. Don’t cave — not now, not ever. There’s no crying in politics.”

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