To My Fellow George W. Bush Supporters
Really? Are you serious?
That’s the reaction I have whenever a Bush 2000 supporter pledges allegiance to Trump. Because it is impossible to have believed in the values espoused by George W. Bush in 2000 and then to vote for Donald J. Trump in 2020. It just doesn’t make sense.
So either these people were deceiving themselves when they supported Bush or are deceiving themselves now.
In his acceptance speech at the 2000 Republican National Convention, Bush said, “I will not attack a part of this country because I want to lead the whole of it.” Donald Trump openly sees himself as president of only the states went for him in 2016.
In the same speech, Bush declared, “We must give our children a spirit of moral courage because their character is our destiny.” Trump asked his oldest son to write a hush money check to the porn star he had sex with ten days after his youngest son was born.
Bush said of the Founding Fathers, “Their highest hope, as Robert Frost described it, was to occupy the land with character? And that, 13 generations later, is still our goal, to occupy the land with character.” Who was right? The Founding Fathers, Robert Frost, and George W. Bush? Or the guy who denied he raped a woman by explaining “She wasn’t my type.”
How does this work? How could someone explain to their grandchildren that they passionately believed George Bush when he pledged “to restore honor and dignity to the White House” and also that they supported the man who bragged about grabbing women by their genitals?
Did these people believe it was a mistake for George W. Bush to give a speech at the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C. after September 11? Did they disagree with him when he told America:
These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith. And it’s important for my fellow Americans to understand that.
Were Bush supporters secretly ashamed when he said,
America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country. Muslims are doctors, lawyers, law professors, members of the military, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, moms and dads. And they need to be treated with respect. In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect.
Were they secretly longing for a president who instead would call for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”?
A person cannot agree with both statements. So which one makes you feel ashamed?
I worked alongside many of the people who helped elect George W. Bush. In April of 1999, I moved to Austin to help a man I believed to be a good and decent man campaign to be president. We stood together in the cold rain on that strange election night of 2000, waiting for our new president to give a speech. And we took that long walk back to headquarters when it became clear no winner would be declared.
Have my friends from Bush 2000 forgotten what it was we were fighting for? We didn’t work for a perfect man, but we did work for man who could honestly say, “I believe in tolerance, not in spite of my faith, but because of it. I believe in a God who calls us not to judge our neighbors but to love them. I believe in grace because I’ve seen it, and peace because I’ve felt it, and forgiveness because I’ve needed it.”
How can anyone who was moved by that now support a man who calls himself a Christian, but says he never asked God for forgiveness because he never had the need.
To those who supported George W. Bush with me and now support Donald Trump, I say: This is your choice. It’s not about who Donald Trump is, but about who you are. Does pledging your allegiance and support for this man actually make you feel better about yourself and the country? I don’t believe it. I refuse to believe that each of you are that shallow, that each of you have such a nihilistic view of public life that you can feel good about this choice.
Your support of Trump doesn’t make me angry. It makes me sad. Because it means you have bargained with yourself and decided that your values weren’t worth defending.
Donald Trump is going to lose. Republicans are going to lose the Senate. But defeat in politics is transitory. Shame is forever. I’m sorry. It didn’t have to be this way.