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Horowitz: Bush, Obama, and McCain Speak Up for American Values

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


Former Presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama, along with Senator John McCain, in separate speeches last week provided similar strong and pointed criticisms of President Trump’s  efforts to divide us as well as his persistent undermining of the universal principles upon which our nation was founded. And all three did so powerfully and eloquently without once mentioning Trump’s name.  These three statesman and leaders who certainly have their share of disagreements with each other, spoke up for commonly shared American values at a time when they are under assault from the man in the oval office.  It was a timely and needed reminder of what brings us together in what remains the greatest nation on earth.

Speaking at an event for the George W. Bush Institute, held in NYC, President Bush, taking direct aim at Donald Trump, remarked, “Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.

The former President went on to say, “Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children. The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.”

He also elaborated on how we Americans are bound together by shared ideals—not by loyalty to a tribe: “ Our identity as a nation – unlike many other nations – is not determined by geography or ethnicity, by soil or blood. Being an American involves the embrace of high ideals and civic responsibility. We become the heirs of Thomas Jefferson by accepting the ideal of human dignity found in the Declaration of Independence. We become the heirs of James Madison by understanding the genius and values of the U.S. Constitution. We become the heirs of Martin Luther King, Jr., by recognizing one another not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. This means that people of every race, religion, and ethnicity can be fully and equally American. It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed.”

 President Obama coincidentally speaking on the same day at a campaign rally in Virginia for Ralph Northam, the Democratic candidate for Governor, echoed his predecessor: “Instead of our politics reflecting our values, we’ve got politics infecting our communities. Instead of looking for ways to work together and get things done in a practical way, we’ve got folks who are deliberately trying to make folks angry, to demonize people who have different ideas, to get the base all riled up because it provides a short-term tactical advantage.”

Speaking earlier in the week at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia and asserting that “we live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil”, Senator John McCain sounded the same chords as our two most recent former Presidents: “To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain 'the last best hope of earth' for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.”

 These timely speeches by these very different men with differing political views remind us that we are at our best when we live up to our founding principles and come together to take on big challenges, both here and abroad.   Bush, Obama and McCain call us in the words of Lincoln at Gettysburg to the "better angels of our nature."  As citizens of this great nation, it is all of our responsibilities to take their lead and speak up for American values in this time of challenge.  We must say it loud and clear: President Trump’s divisive, tribal, mean-spirited, and crabbed vision for this nation does not represent the American spirit.  We stand with Bush, Obama and McCain, Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike, for the true American creed.


Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates.. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island


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