Can’t is Not an Option

This review was originally published on Future Female Leaders

January 20th is Nikki Haley’s birthday. This is a very important fact to note, because the inauguration following the 2020 election takes place on January 21st, 2021.  The same goes for the 2024 election. Whether she is our next president or not, and I really hope she is, January 20th is a big day for her and we can celebrate her no matter the year! This year, we look back on her first book, Can’t Is Not an Option: My American Story, which was published in 2012 when she was the Governor of South Carolina.  Now that she is kicking butt and taking names at the United Nations, let’s take a look back at how she got to where she is today.

Nikki Haley was born in the United States, in Bamberg, South Carolina, to parents who had immigrated from India. They had a good education, and her father became a professor while her mother started a small business. It was at this business that Nikki found her love for balancing budgets, making things happen, and her utter determination. By twelve, she had taken over the books for her mother’s business and was balancing the budget, writing pay slips, and making bank deposits. As someone who never really held a job until college but was dedicated to other school based things, I was amazed. I also related to Haley feeling unfulfilled and unchallenged with her school work.

Haley doesn’t shy away from talking about college, meeting her husband, and getting her traditional family’s approval to marry him, but the real meat of the book picks up when she decides to run for the state legislature in an already packed primary against the longest serving state legislator, and boy did the race get ugly. Nikki Haley really experienced it all in her campaigns for legislator and governor. People called her a “conservative with a tan” and her father a “raghead.” They implied she wasn’t a Christian, despite the fact that her Christian faith was integral to her life and she went to church often. She prevailed, made moves in the legislature, and instituted a mandatory roll call vote to make government more transparent, something we can all get behind.

During her time as legislator, the Governor Sanford scandal broke. It was revealed that he had been having an affair. He and Nikki Haley were close before that, and she felt betrayed by his indiscretions against his family, but she stands by the fact that his consensual affair did not institute a crime. She still continued her run for governor. That’s when one of her competitors claimed that she and Sanford had had an affair. Haley denied this vehemently and pointed out just how sexist this claim was. They thought she couldn’t be a successful woman in politics without using her feminine charms to get ahead. They knew their racist claims hadn’t worked, so they had to resort to scandal. Haley and her family stood strong in the face of these rumors and wannabe scandals. She won the governor’s race. Nikki Haley was the first female governor South Carolina ever had, along with the first minority governor.

The book ends there, but we all know that now Nikki Haley is the United States Representative to the United Nations. She’s certainly not taking any nonsense, is defending American interests and getting the foreign policy experience she will need to run for higher office someday. There is not a doubt in my mind that Nikki Haley will run for president one day. I believe that if she takes what she learned on her smaller campaigns and continues to fight for conservative values and America as she has, she can win.  If you see Nikki Haley writing a new book in the future, know that a run is imminent!

Pick up Can’t is Not an Option wherever books are sold and learn why we celebrate Nikki Haley as much as we do.


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