Former President George W. Bush on Thursday warned against dangers menacing America’s democracy in rare public remarks that did not mention President Trump.
“Bigotry seems emboldened,” he said in New York City, according to Politico. “Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.”
“Bigotry 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,” Bush continued at the Bush Institute’s Spirit of Liberty event.
“And our young people need positive role models. Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of our children.”
Bush, who served as America’s 43rd president from 2001 to 2009, additionally cautioned against the U.S. losing sight of its traditions.
“When we lose sight of our ideals, it is not democracy that has failed,” he said. “It is the failure of those charged with protecting and defending democracy.”
“We need to recall and recover our own identity,” Bush added later. “Americans have great advantage. To renew our country, we only need to remember our values.”
Trump defeated George W. Bush’s younger brother, former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL), for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
George W. Bush on Thursday did not specifically mention Trump, Congress or any other individual politicians during his remarks.
Americans are increasingly troubled by bigotry within their borders, however, following the renewed energy of white nationalism this year.
White nationalists and counter-protesters opposing them dominated headlines in August after violence erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia.
One woman was killed when a car drove into a crowd of counter-protesters, and two Virginia State Police troopers died in a helicopter crashed linked to the unrest there.
Trump faced intense criticism from both political parties after the incident for blaming the turmoil on both sides.
Detractors argued that Trump did not offer a forceful enough condemnation of white nationalism afterwards.