Bush defended globalization, free trade and immigration in his speech and condemned divisive politics and white supremacy just two months after Trump said “both sides” were to blame for a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism, forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America,” Bush said at the speech intended to promote democracy and freedom. “We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade, forgetting that conflict, instability and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism. We’ve seen the return of isolationist sentiments, forgetting that American security is directly threatened by the chaos and despair of distant places.”
In recent months, a a crisis has been created that has distorted the identity of the United States, Bush added.
“In all these ways, we need to recall and recover our own identity,” the former president said. “Americans have a great advantage. To renew our country we only need to remember our values.”
Bush continued with his comments, implying that bullying from those who lead our nation sets a poor example for all Americans.
“Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry and compromises the moral education of children,” Bush said. “The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.”
The speech was sponsored by George W. Bush Institute. Watch Bush’s full speech in the video below:
Bush’s remarks were met with praise by his brother, former presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. John McCain.
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Bush has largely stayed out of the spotlight since he left office in January 2009, avoiding commenting on political issues. But it’s known that the Bush family has never been fans of Trump, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination against Jeb last year. Neither Jeb nor George W. voted for Trump or Hillary Clinton in the November 2016 election.
After intense violence occurred at the Charlottesville rally, the former president, along with his father, former President George H.W. Bush, issued a joint statement condemning the event and the hte that it brought.
America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred in all forms. As we pray for Charlottesville, we are reminded of the fundamental truths recorded by that city’s most prominent citizen in the Declaration of Independence: we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights. We know these truths to be everlasting because we have seen the decency and greatness of our country.