What Nikki Haley's Resignation Means for the "Quiet Resistance"
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…another senior official leaving the White House. Two weeks ago, President Trump’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, announced her plans to leave her post at the end of the year. With her resignation, Haley will join the burgeoning list of professionals to leave the White House. What’s impressive, however, is that Haley, a cabinet-level official, is not leaving in shame. No ties to Russia. No condemnations via tweet. No foul play.
Departures are characteristic of the Trump Administration—their preceding conflict is one manifest of the unprecedented resistance elicited from this particular President’s approach to the job. Former F.B.I. Director James Comey was fired for the Bureau’s investigation on Russian interference in elections. Sean Spicer, former White House press secretary, resigned to show his “vehement” protest to the incoming communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, who lasted six days before being forced out for critiquing other members of the administration. Gary Cohn resigned as Director of the National Economic Council once he realized he could not sway Trump against imposing new import tariffs. The list goes on. Officials disagree; heads roll.
What about these departures is newsworthy? What did Comey and Spicer have to compel responses with magnitudes greater than the trivialization of the Women’s March via Twitter?
Simply put, they had access to decision-making processes within our government that private citizens do not. Trump ignoring government officials to the extent that he does is akin to the historic levels of demonstrations protesting his policies. Comey, Spencer, and the rest were insiders.
Nikki Haley stands out among such insiders. In an administration characterized by staunchly conflicting ideologies, everyone has enemies. The Ambassador’s willingness to stand her ground and take up arms is intriguing. Haley has historically butt heads with Trump. In 2015, for example, she suggested his temperament would cause a world war. John Bolton and Larry Kudlow could be considered her adversaries, especially following April’s shenanigans regarding their disagreement on Russia sanctions. Under a president where anything short of uncompromising loyalty is left to die, how did she thrive?
What differentiates Haley and Cohn from Scaramucci? What moved the anonymous senior White House official to affirm a “quiet resistance” within the administration motivated to subvert the president’s every move? And why did this opinion piece receive such a strong reaction from the West Wing?
Once again, it is a matter of access. When Trump notices and purges a dissident, he further demarcates his inner circle from those who are simply co-workers. Outward loyalty is rewarded with his ear. Insiders transact allegiance for influence in the decision-making process, regardless of their true motives. As described in Bob Woodward’s Fear, where else would purposeful omission of key trade documents be in Gary Cohn’s best interests? Trump’s system begets behavior like this.
With Haley’s resignation, the “quiet resistance” is losing one of their big guns. Though there is no evident link between the U.N. Ambassador and the bloc described by the op-ed, they appear to share an uncommon resolve to stand subversive in the face of an autocrat. Checks and balances are paramount to the preservation of democracy. Where popular demonstrations lack efficacy, a resignation from Nikki Haley carries much more weight. Outsiders mean nothing to Trump; this war can only be fought by insiders.