- Sunday, January 7, 2024

Sometimes an offhand remark or an ill-considered observation will cause a presidential campaign to implode.

In 1967, then-Michigan Gov. George Romney, father of Mitt, was a serious contender for the 1968 Republican presidential nomination, until he told an interviewer that when he went to Vietnam for a firsthand look at the war, he was subjected to “the greatest brainwashing anybody can get.”

Whatever the governor was trying to say, this made him look like a pathetic schnook. His campaign never recovered.

In a 1988 presidential debate, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, the Democratic nominee, was asked if he’d still oppose capital punishment if his wife were raped and murdered.

His answer — a categorical no without mentioning how devastated he’d be by his wife’s violent death — betrayed not a hint of humanity. He became a historical footnote.

Enter former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, the great RINO hope who — like Casey at the bat — stepped up to the plate, swung and missed.

Campaigning in New Hampshire, the former U.N. ambassador was asked what she thought caused the Civil War.

Although there were other factors, the obvious response is slavery. To attempt to explain the Civil War without mentioning slavery is like trying to discuss the Holocaust without reference to antisemitism.

But that’s exactly what Mrs. Haley did regarding the War Between the States.

“I think the cause of the Civil War was basically how government was going to run — the freedoms and what people could and couldn’t do,” she explained. Say what? Was Mrs. Haley brainwashed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy?

After an avalanche of criticism, she attempted to clarify her remarks. But the damage had been done.

If she wanted to make a political point, Mrs. Haley could have said, “The Civil War was caused by Democrats who wanted to keep their slaves.”

They still do. The slaves Democrats won’t give up today are taxpayers whose property is taken to pay for green energy, canceling student loan debt, identity politics, the sexual revolution and the rest of the left’s agenda.

The average American shells out one-third of his income to the three levels of government each year, meaning he’s a slave for four months of the year.

The Civil War was a project of the Democratic Party. The legislatures of the Southern states that seceded were controlled by Democrats. The Confederacy was practically an auxiliary of the Democratic Party.

The Democrats who stayed with the Union (they were called War Democrats) opposed secession but wanted to keep slavery. In 1865, when Congress took up the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery, the opposition was exclusively from Democrats.

In the post-Jacksonian era of the 19th century, the Democratic Party was elitist to the core. It believed only certain people were fit to lead and others were destined to follow.

Before the Civil War, Democrats believed that leadership was determined by race and class. White plantation owners were destined to lead. Other Whites were destined to follow. And Blacks were intended, from birth, to be property. That’s what a Democratic Supreme Court said in the 1857 Dred Scott decision.

Today, Democrats believe that the nation should be governed by Ph.D.s, preferably from Ivy League schools, and professional politicians who believe in the party’s objectives — including high, progressive taxation, massive government spending, public education that constitutes indoctrination, diversity, equity and inclusion ideology, an open border and the elimination of fossil fuels.

When the hoi polloi question their betters, the establishment is incensed. Witness the response to parents having the audacity to speak out against social experiments at school committee meetings. The Biden Justice Department wanted to investigate them as domestic terrorists.

This is how elites have put down slave revolts throughout history, from Spartacus and Nate Turner to Moms for Liberty.

Democrats have always been on the side of slavery. The field hands of the Civil War era have been replaced by the workers whose income is confiscated to pay for the welfare plantation and other aspects of “woke” government.

California even has its version of a fugitive slave law, enacted in 2020. Residents who flee the state’s tax servitude are forced to pay an exit fee.

The 2024 election will determine if Democrats get to keep their slaves or if emancipation will begin.

Either way, Nikki Haley is well on her way to being another footnote in the history of presidential politics.

• Don Feder is a columnist with The Washington Times.

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