Putting Aside “slavery”Nikki Haley’s Civil War Answer was even more Mortifying.

Daylin Leach
5 min readDec 29, 2023

Sometimes, at family events, I am grateful when someone behaves horribly. That takes the focus off of me and gives everybody something else to talk about.

If Uncle Winthrop (not his real name. His real name is “Rodney”) gets drunk and starts showing everyone his denture collection, that deflects people from their usual conversations about my wardrobe, my table manners, my love of the Didgeridoo, and who exactly am I related to anyway?

I feel like this is the story of the Republican presidential primary so far, minus the didgeridoo. Given that the front-runner spends his days as a jukebox for Hitler’s greatest hits and sending out Christmas “rot-in-hell” messages, it is very difficult for any other candidate to get noticed for anything, least of all committing a gaffe. Trump has made committing a gaffe all-but impossible and given his primary opponents leave to say virtually anything without getting in trouble for it.

The exception that proves the rule occured this week when former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was asked what caused the American Civil War. Worried about offending a constituency that has…how shall I say it…a slightly more ambivalent view about the outcome of that war, Haley gave a convoluted answer which studiously avoided mentioning the one, obvious, cause of that war: slavery.

There have been those who have tried to euphemize the cause of the civil war before. But let’s be clear, it was 100% about the South’s insistence on keeping the right to own other human beings. When they say the war was about “state’s rights’’, it was about a state’s rights to allow legal slavery. When they say the war was about personal liberty, it was about a person’s liberty to own another person, who had no liberty. Ya know. Because they were a slave.

Haley’s breathtaking blooper actually broke through and has been causing her campaign a good deal of angst as they figure out how to say that of courseslavery was the cause of the civil war while at the same time not leading her base to believe that she thinks slavery was the cause of the civil war. Good luck to her on that.

But what struck me was not so much what she didn’t say. It’s what she DID say that is, if…



Daylin Leach

Long-time state House and Senate member, author of PA’s Medical Marijuana law, also creator of “shit-gibbon!” Comedian, professor, father of 2 awesome children!