On Thursday, Oct. 19, former President George W. Bush delivered a speech that condemned many of the features of current President Donald Trump's politics. During the speech, the 43rd president of the United States urged Americans to "remember our values," denounced bigotry, and warned against the dangers of nationalism, which has fueled the "America first" worldview that Trump championed during his presidential campaign. During his George Bush's speech on bigotry and other political subjects, the former president said,
People of every race, religion, ethnicity can be fully and equally American. It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed and it means the very identity of our nation depends on the passing of civic ideals to the next generation. We need a renewed emphasis on civic learning in schools.
In the whole of the speech, Bush also spoke about the division of the U.S.'s national discourse and lamented the state of the country's politics. The 71-year-old former president said,
Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication. We've seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together.
Bush didn't mention President Trump's name during the speech, but he delivered very obvious criticism of both Trump policies and controversial moments during Trump's presidency.
At one point, former President Bush asserted that the need to help people who are "hurting" in the U.S. should not mean fighting against globalization, which President Trump has long criticized as the source of many American problems. Bush said on Thursday,
People are hurting. They’re angry and they’re frustrated. We must help them. But we cannot wish globalization away, any more than we could wish away the Agricultural Revolution or the Industrial Revolution.
At another point, Bush warned that efforts from foreign governments to influence American politics — which a number of U.S. intelligence agencies agree is what Russia has tried to do — should not be downplayed. Trump, his administration, and other Republicans have been criticized throughout the year for doing just that: downplaying Russian influence. Bush said on Thursday,
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. Ultimately this assault won't succeed. 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.
Bush's speech in New York came during a rare public appearance for the former Texas governor. Since leaving the White House, "W" has been known to seldom speak on current events. On Thursday, however, he made certain points that he had raised in the past.
Back in January, while speaking about the early days of the Trump presidency, Bush told People magazine,
I don’t like the racism and I don’t like the name-calling and I don’t like the people feeling alienated. Nobody likes that.
His speech in New York echoed the same sentiment. Bush said,
Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, 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.
Former President George W. Bush delivered his remarks at Manhattan's Time Warner Center, where the Bush Institute’s Spirit of Liberty event was held on Thursday.