It no longer seems farfetched to predict that at some point in the near future, American voters will elect a woman as president.

Before 2016, an electable female candidate was the exception. Now it’s the rule, with five women — four U.S. senators and a House member — already in the crowded race for the Democratic nomination.

Most of these female Democratic candidates, however, are pretty far to the left politically, even more so by Mississippi standards. And any Democratic nominee faces the challenge of running against incumbent Donald Trump, who, for all of his flaws, proved himself to be a skilled campaigner in his 2016 victory.

It’s a long way and a lot could happen between now and November 2020. Although some Republicans admit being nervous about Trump’s re-election chances, the Democrats could once again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by nominating a candidate who is even more unpalatable to the majority of Americans.

If Trump does get re-elected next year, that moves the presidential calendar to 2024. In addition to this year’s Democratic candidates, there’s at least one more woman who would be a formidable competitor in five years: Nikki Haley.

The Republican checks a lot of modern political boxes. She was governor of South Carolina before resigning to become Trump’s ambassador at the United Nations. She is the daughter of parents who immigrated from India.

Most importantly, she has proven she can make courageous decisions. After a disturbed young man killed nine black people at a South Carolina church in 2015, Haley convinced lawmakers and the public that it was time to remove the Confederate flag from the state Capitol.

Haley is back in the public eye with a new advocacy group, Stand for America. It will promote public policies “that strengthen America’s economy, culture, and national security.”

As noted by Jennifer Rubin, a conservative columnist for The Washington Post, that’s a rather bland description. It could fit about any group in politics.

Rubin speculates that Haley’s using Stand for America to wait and see what happens in the Republican Party.

“She’s saying nothing that would give offense to most Republicans, but neither is she offering anything new,” Rubin wrote this past week. She believes Haley ought to be bolder.

Rubin would like to see Haley apply conservative principles to today’s issues: a market-based approach to climate change, how to encourage work and provide opportunities to Americans who need help, how to revamp legal immigration and discourage illegal border crossings.

It would take some nerve for Haley to do this. She’d have to shed some longtime Republican talking points, such as opposition to Obamacare, in favor of acknowledging that the country is beginning a transformation from a manufacturing economy to a technological and information one, and offering specific ideas about how to get there from here more smoothly.

“Haley should stop playing it safe,” Rubin wrote. “Goodness knows there is not an idea in her rollout that dozens of Republicans over decades have not advanced — and seen rejected by an electorate that wants better government, not less government. Be bold. Swing for the fences. Otherwise, what’s the point of hanging around?”

Rubin is correct. The Democratic candidates are at least being bold — even if too many of their ideas are extreme. Voters are hearing nothing from Republicans except “build the wall” and “cut taxes no matter what happens to the budget deficit.”

There’s an opening here. A smart woman such as Haley would be a good person to use it.

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