Last night former US President George W. Bush delivered a speech in New York condemning the continuos discrimination and misinformation consuming American politics. In a pointed message to Trump, he warned that “the health of the democratic spirit is at issue,” the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Unlike fellow Republican Donald Trump, Bush is both pro-immigration and pro-trade. “Since World War II, America has encouraged and benefited from the global advance of the free markets, from the strength of democratic alliance and from the advance of free societies,” he said. “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 in distant places.”
He went on to denounce the bigotry dominating Trump’s government. “Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children…Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.”
Bush added that racism was not acceptable. “We’ve become the heirs of Martin Luther King, Jr., by recognising one another not by the colour of their skin but by the content of the character,” he said, alluding to the Civil Rights activist’s famous ‘I Have A Dream’ speech. “This means that people of every race, religion and ethnicity can be fully and equally American. It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed.”
Concluding his speech, Bush stressed the need for leadership guided by values of freedom and equality for all. “[Past] presidents of both parties believed American security and prosperity depended on success of freedom around the world. They knew that the success depended, in large part, on US leadership,” he said. “We need to recall and recover our own identity. We only need to remember our values.”
He finished by calling on Trump to do better; “when we lose sight of our ideals, it is not democracy that has failed, it is the failure of those charged with preserving and protecting democracy.”
Met with applause, Bush’s speech came just a few hours after Trump tweeted a conspiracy theory accusing the FBI, Russian officials and the Democratic party of conspiring against him during the presidential election.