By his second time period within the mid-2000s, Bush was viscerally hated by political progressives, who noticed in him a uniquely harmful mixture of right-wing zealotry and dim incompetence. He had launched an illegitimate and disastrous conflict in Iraq. His administration was condemned for a variety of misdeeds, starting from the problematic to the abominable (together with torture and different human rights violations). Immigration was merely one on that spectrum.
But in contrast with at the moment’s Republicans, on immigration he appears to be like downright liberal. That is not a credit score to him — it is an enormous mark towards at the moment’s GOP.
Now, the previous president is talking out, making media appearances to advertise his e book of work of immigrants and calling on Congress to tone down the “harsh rhetoric.” He wrote an op-ed within the Washington Post encouraging his get together to be extra humane and wise on immigration — immigrants are, in any case, human beings, and in addition people who find themselves very important to the American financial system.
Bush expressed his help for DACA — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — which supplies undocumented folks dropped at the US as youngsters a path to citizenship. He additionally proposed rising the variety of authorized immigrants permitted to enter the nation.
While president, Bush certainly accepted a document variety of refugees and asylum seekers and supported a bipartisan immigration reform effort that, whereas extremely imperfect (and finally killed within the Senate), no less than included a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, in alternate for stricter enforcement of border safety and legal guidelines mandating authorized work standing.
The invoice did not cross, largely as a result of Republicans had been divided on it — a harbinger of issues to come back.
Today’s Republican Party, as Bush himself has famous, is as nationalist, xenophobic and nativist as any political motion has been in a long time. Donald Trump has turn into the get together’s head, even out of workplace (the GOP did not actually have a platform within the final election, merely pledging allegiance to the whims of the mercurial former president). And Trump just isn’t solely intensively xenophobic, he proved himself terrifyingly prepared to deal with immigrants as in the event that they had been one thing lower than human.
He has in contrast immigrants to vermin, separated immigrant youngsters from their mother and father (and misplaced a whole lot of them), and even turned the US from a spot that took in additional refugees than the remainder of the nations of the world mixed right into a nation that accepted document low numbers of determined folks searching for secure haven.
To ensure, Bush’s op-ed was removed from progressive, and stopped effectively wanting what nearly any immigrant rights advocate would say is critical. It’s a conservative proposal, and Bush isn’t any radical, or perhaps a liberal. But his proposal does not dehumanize, insult or inflame resentment of immigrants — and the way unhappy that we’re in a second that dehumanization, insult and the inflaming of anti-immigrant sentiment is the GOP establishment.
Bush additionally went on NBC’s “Today” present and informed host Hoda Kotb that the GOP at the moment is “isolationist, protectionist and, to a certain extent, nativist.”
He’s proper — and his personal conservative management throughout his phrases did not precisely ship the Republican Party in a constructive path. But even the GOP of the early 2000s, which was already cynically shifting towards the reactionary, has veered farther to the appropriate beneath (and after) Trump, who exploited the get together’s worst racist impulses.
There’s a temptation right here to attract a clear line between the before-Trump GOP and the after-Trump GOP, as if Trump was an unforeseeable power that essentially modified the character of the get together. But that is not true.
Leaders like Bush, and his father earlier than him, noticed the Trump base all alongside — the racists eager to latch onto a demagogue, the parents who voted to behave out white male resentment reasonably than selling their very own (or anybody’s) finest pursuits. Researchers have discovered that for many years now, charges of racial resentment have not shifted, however the Americans who’re essentially the most racially resentful have turn into more and more tied to the Republican Party, its presidential candidates and its coverage positions.
And students had been elevating the difficulty of accelerating authoritarianism on the American proper throughout Bush’s tenure as president.
The distinction between the Bushes and the Trumps of the get together is that the Bushes dog-whistled to the bottom — they made Bible references that went over the heads of secular Americans whereas implying fealty to white evangelicals, for instance, which they solely partially delivered on — and maybe even determined to reside with the discomfort of figuring out they had been main a celebration that was more and more banking on racial and gender resentment to realize energy.
But Trump spoke the beforehand unstated, and embraced the resentment not simply as a path to energy, however as an actual battle cry. He drew what was beforehand deliberately obscured and denied to the middle of his motion.
That Bush is now talking out is actually laudable, but additionally conveniently underplays his function in laying the groundwork upon which Trump constructed. Certainly Bush appears horrified by the top outcome — as all of us ought to be. But whereas he is pointing to the ugly factor his get together has turn into, he ought to pause and mirror on his personal contributions.