Former U.S. presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush recently made headlines for their harsh statements about current president Donald Trump. These statements come as a shock considering all three are Republicans and, according to precedent, are expected to support one another for the sake of the party.
The unexpectedness of these statements emphasizes concern the two have for both the Republican Party and the implications of Trump’s presidency for the nation. The Bushes fear Trump may bring about the dismantlement of the Republican Party because of his disregard for and departure from the Republican institution. Considering the substantial amount of time both Bushes spent in the White House cultivating a specific Republican legacy, they have a vested interest in defending what they worked to build.
Disapproval began in May 2016 when the elder Bush dismissed Trump as a “blowhard” who is led by ego rather than genuine interest in the nation’s well-being. Neither believed his outlandish and offensive approach as a Republican presidential candidate would get him far in the race.
To their dismay, Trump clinched the Republican nomination, and when election time came in November 2016, neither Bush voted for Trump. The elder voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton while the younger did not vote for either major party candidate.
George W. Bush gave a speech Oct. 19 in New York City in which he implicitly attacked Trump. Without naming the president, Bush professed his distaste for the recent emboldening of bigotry and expressed his fear that “politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.”
The widespread disapproval of Trump within the Republican party is indicative of a transformation or perhaps a split within the party. In his Oct. 19 speech, the younger Bush attributed this to a departure from traditional Republican values and a shift to “casual cruelty” in policymaking.
This public disavowal of the Republican leader is not distinct to the Bushes. Several other notable Republican politicians, including Mitt Romney and Condoleezza Rice, chose not to support Trump in the presidential race and continue to speak out against some of his unfavorable actions as president.
Trump’s nontraditional and allegedly misdirected approach to Republican politics has pushed many Republican politicians to reject some of his policy proposals outright. For example, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has consistently voted against Trump’s attempts to repeal ObamaCare due to his belief that the proposed alternatives are inadequate. Republican dissent on major issues like health care is significant because it is often enough to halt the advancement of legislation and call for revised or entirely new proposals. With so many key figures within the Republican Party turning their backs on Trump, the efficacy of his administration is being critically tested.
Photo Courtesy of Fox News.