George W. Bush Slams #MAGA: Nativism, Bigotry, 'Casual Cruelty' Pulling Us Apart

Former first lady Laura Bush also spoke at Thursday's forum in New York City

"And our young people need positive role models", said Bush, a devoted husband and father and the author of a senseless war that killed more than a million people.

He said that while it was important not to ignore the concerns of people whose jobs may have been lost to global economic forces, "we can not wish globalisation away". Nonetheless, the parallels were obvious. Bush said that the American spirit doesn't say that "we shall manage" or should just deal with it.

"At times it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together", Bush said.

He said argument "turns too easily into animosity", and "disagreement escalates into dehumanisation".

He added, "Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions, forgetting the image of God we should see in each other".

"We have seen insolvency, economic stagnation, youth unemployment, anger about immigration, resurgent ethno-nationalism, and deep questions about the meaning and durability of the European Union", he said. He condemned anti-immigrant rhetoric, reminding his audience of the "the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America".

Bush's speech also appeared to be a direct rebuke to the populist, nationalist themes that defined much of Trump's 2016 president campaign, personified by the views of former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.

Bush past year supported the unsuccessful presidential campaign of his brother, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, one of a large field of Republican contenders Trump defeated for the party's presidential nomination before winning the November election against his Democratic challenger, former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Instead, he left the presidential section of his ballot blank in 2016. "This means that people of every race, religion and ethnicity can be fully and equally American". He said that Americans should pass civic ideals onto the next generation. This is a clear case where the strength of our democracy begins at home.

Bush said the United States isn't immune to recent crises in Europe, which he says has "developed an identity crisis".

Bush also described the alleged Russian interference in the US presidential election as a "sustained attempt by a hostile power to feed and exploit our country's divisions". But foreign aggressions - including cyber-attacks, disinformation and financial influence - should not be downplayed or tolerated. We have now seen the party he used to lead decline into passivity and pure partisanship, again and again enabling Trump rather than rallying to American principles and looking to the c0mmon good.

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