Earlier today, former President George W. Bush called upon Americans to renew their commitment to America ideals, liberal democracy at home and abroad, and unity as a country.
President Bush warned Americans that “the health of the Democratic Spirit is at issue and the renewal of that spirit is the urgent task at hand.”
He mentioned the many security challenges facing the United States from terrorism, to North Korea, to Russian efforts to divide the nation and reduce public confidence in our institutions. Among these challenges, President Bush stressed that Americans must not allow themselves to be divided, must not see their political opponents as enemies, and must stay true to their values.
Domestically, President Bush urged all Americans to remember the ideals of our Founding Fathers, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King Jr. He asked us to remember that we are united “not by ethnicity, not by soil and blood,” but a set of ideals, laid out in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the words of these great men. Without using the term, President Bush defended the idea of a propositional nation.
To those who would divide the country by race, President Bush stated:
“Bigotry or white supremacy of any form is blasphemy against the American Creed.”
Bush also referenced Russian attempts to encourage the alt-right and Black Lives Matter movements in the hopes of deepening the political divide in the nation. He warned that “America is experiencing the sustained attempt by a hostile power to feed and exploit our country’s divisions. According to our intelligence services, the Russian government has made a project of turning Americans against each other. This effort is broad, systematic and stealthy, it’s conducted across a range of social media platforms.” While reaffirming his belief that these efforts would ultimately fail to break the American people, President Bush stated that Russian hacks and other assaults on our democracy “should never be downplayed or tolerated.”
On foreign policy, he insisted that freedom is “not merely a political menu item or a foreign policy fad. It should be the defining commitment of our country.” He also addressed the benefits of democratic allies and urged Americans to live up to their ideals at home and abroad:
“Democracy remains the definition of political legitimacy. That has not changed and that will not change.”
He went on to praise the alliances America has built, as well as the positive effects that stem from international trade and cooperation.
After referring to recent movements against these ideals in America and throughout the world, President Bush concluded with hopeful remarks about the resilience of America in past crises and his belief that “we will overcome.”
Why Bush Spoke
This is a speech that has been and will continue to be grossly misrepresented by manipulative sources and small minds. Without mentioning specific groups by name, Bush decried movements that have challenged American ideals and liberal democracy. This includes subtle references to groups such as the Alt-Right and Black Lives Matter, both of which promote divisive identity politics. He also decried foreign populist movements that oppose the social democratic order, a reference to parties such as the Front National in France or Alternative for Germany. Those who promote identity politics on the far-left or Alt-Right, who treat politics as warfare, seek to withdraw support from our democratic allies, support anti-American dictators, and abandon the values of Jefferson, Madison, Lincoln, and MLK, were the real targets of this speech made by the former president.
Bush clarified that defeating these groups and restoring confidence in liberal democracy will not be easy. He is aware that Americans have ceased to trust many of our common institutions, such as the media and academia. A primary reason why Americans lost faith in their common institutions was that some of these institutions, like the biased media and the intellectually intolerant academia, failed the American people. As Bush said:
“Finally, the call to action calls upon major institutions of our democracy, public and private, to consciously and urgently attend to the problem of declining trust, for example, our democracy needs a media that is transparent, accurate, and fair.”
Within minutes of Bush’s conclusion, members of the media proved that they had not taken President Bush’s words to heart. They misrepresented Bush’s speech as an attack on President Trump, failing to note that Trump abandoned these supporters and these policies as president. He has dismissed Bannon, appointed Nikki Haley, bombed Assad, armed the Kurds, and left behind the rhetoric which appealed to the groups that supported him in his 2016 presidential campaign. During his U.N. Speech, Trump defended NATO, Israel and the Liberal Democratic order, while decrying Iran, Russia, Hezbollah, and Assad.
Despite what the mainstream media will tell you, this speech was not an attack on President Trump, who has embraced much of George Bush’s vision, but was instead an urgent reminder to unite behind the American Creed and live up its values. Our unity and values are under attack both from external threats like Russia and extreme domestic movements. However, the urgency does not arise, as many have claimed, from the current president, but from movements at home and abroad which President Trump and President Bush both oppose. Those who misrepresent the purpose of this speech will only empower the groups which seek to harm our national consensus, our liberal democracy, and our allies.
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