In a rare move, former U.S. President George W. Bush gave a public speech. He spoke at an event host by the George W. Bush Institute in New York City, reported ABC News.
In the speech, he seemed to be criticizing the current president for the “divisive state” of American politics. He also took the time to reject the nativism he saw in the current political climate.
“Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication,” he said, likely in reference to the “fake news” conflict that’s surrounded President Trump’s presidency.
“We've seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty,” said the president who served two terms and saw America through the major tragedies like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. “At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together.”
He also seemed to criticize President Trump’s widely-known stance on immigration. Bush said that nationalism has been distorted into nativism, which is a policy of protecting the native-born against those of immigrants.
“We've seen nationalism distorted into nativism. Forgotten the dynamism immigration has always brought to America. The fading value of trade.”
He continued, “We've seen the return of isolationist sentiments forgetting that American security is directly threatened by the chaos and despair of distant places where threats such as terrorism, infectious disease, criminal gangs, and drug trafficking tend to emerge. In all these ways, we need to recall and recover our own identity.”
Echoing John McCain’s words about America’s critical role in the world, Bush said that America could not back out now.
"People are hurting. They are angry. And they are frustrated. We must hear and help them but we cannot wish globalization away any more than we could wish away the agricultural revolution or the industrial revolution."
As a further comment on the Nativism he’s identifying in America, Bush challenged those who he views as having embraced bigotry or white supremacy.
“Bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed,” said the president—referencing the violence in Charlottesville—to applause.
This is one of the first times that Bush has commented on political matters since he left political office in 2012. He broke that trend in New York.
In a thinly-veiled reference to the way President Trump is portrayed, Bush commented on the national tone. He said the tone gives permission to people who want to be cruel.
“Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone. [It] provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children. The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.”
While the majority of his speech was generalizations, former President Bush directly addressed the issue of Russian interference in the 2016 election. He didn’t hesitate to say he believed there were attempts to corrupt the American Democratic procedure.
“According to intelligence services the Russian government has made a project of turning Americans against each other. This effort is broad, systemic and stealthy. It is conducted across a range of social media platforms,” he said. “Ultimately this assault won't succeed.
He added, “Foreign aggressions including cyberattacks, disinformation and financial influence should never be downplayed or tolerated.”
“It's a clear case where the strength of our democracy begins at home. We must secure our electoral infrastructure and protect our electoral system from subversion,” he concluded.
What do you think about Bush’s comments? Let us know in the comments.
In other news, a U.S. governor just signed a controversial executive order that will force the LGBT agenda onto private businesses.