Across the nation, county and federal services close down. People gather to mourn. Citizens grieve the loss of an individual who spent his life serving the public. To many, the best president of their lifetime is gone.
Yet, President George H.W. Bush’s death has only further emblazoned a legacy unmatched by most, especially in the realm for the service that he is best known for—politics.
President Bush’s death on Nov. 30 struck a tragic chord for citizens across the nation. As the former president passed away, the country that he served during the eventful last four years of the Cold War felt a unanimous pain of sadness and reminiscence.
And this nationwide mourning was not just about losing a one-term president. The event and the despair that ensued was about implications and the loss of an era of presidency.
President Bush’s passing signifies the legacy forever tarnished by Bush’s successors. His death has arguably paved the way for a much different set of presidents to reign, including his direct successor, President Clinton, as well as his own son, President George W. Bush.
Perhaps one of the most notable differences between the ideals of the past and present are those of former President Bush and the current President Trump, respectively. Obviously, both presidents harbor Republican ideals; however, comparing just a few events between these presidents shines light on the fact that the party has undergone drastic changes through the decades.
For instance, despite the two presidents’ supposed common ground in the Republican standpoint, Trump greatly disagrees with Bush’s past negotiations regarding trade in the Americas. On the same day that President Bush died, Trump replaced Bush’s North American Free Trade Agreement with a new one, which contradicts Bush’s original agreement. Essentially, the changes that Trump signed off on almost completely obliterates the initial intentions that Bush had in mind for the country when he first forged the agreement.
Throughout his presidency thus far, Trump has reversed numerous political values concerning immigration and border patrol in the United States. Today, Republicans prioritize the agenda of limiting immigration into the nation. In fact, the Trump administration has gone as far as to separate loving families, simply because of a citizenship incongruity. These traumatic events signify a clear dispute between the views of both presidents.
While Trump half-heartedly removed DACA which made undocumented immigrant children under the program who lived in the U.S. their whole lives be able to be deported, Bush implemented an executive order during his presidency titled, “Immigration Reform and Control Act.” This order worked directly in favor of undocumented immigrants, covering them under the United States law. It also maintained a strict avoidance of separating families, especially if separation posed more harm than good for the family itself.
This, in and of itself, clearly illustrates the glaring contrasts between today’s ideal Republican and those of the past. Immigration has long been a crucial topic in politics, and it has no doubt undergone a dramatic shift in views within the Republican Party.
Sure, times have changed and the stark differences in political ideology is not surprising. Yet, these dissenting views are expected from the opposing party. And these changes have effectively rendered Bush’s presidency pointless.
And this incongruity in political agendas does not just include the current president: it has been a recurring phenomenon, affecting President Bill Clinton and even his own son, President George W. Bush.
President Bush’s son, President George W. Bush, was more adamant on speaking out against President Trump. In fact, his son went as far as to have a book written titled, “The Last Republicans,” which claims that the two Bushes are the last true Republicans to take on the presidency. He also did a speech stating that Trump is not a Republican and other Republicans need to stop listening to him. This is completely different from the old president’s tradition of not taking part in politics after their term is finished.
Furthermore, Bush’s presidential legacy between 1989 and 1993 has significantly warped because of the shift in citizen involvement with politics. Whereas Bush’s presidency was characterized by citizens’ unanimous placement of the president on a god-like pedestal, recent presidents have not received the same distanced respect.
With the rise of social media and the increased role that it plays in politics, American citizens have become ever more involved with modern politics.
Look no further than the Trump administration for the obvious effects of the public’s newfound political interest. Throughout his campaign, and even into his presidency, Trump has constantly communicated to citizens through the popular social media platform Twitter. Because of this communication, millions of citizens see Trump as little more than just another average citizen with just a little more power in his hands. The view of presidents as immaculate beings working solely for the greater good of the public has greatly dissipated since the time of Bush. Through his ample social media presence, Trump has also been able to get away with several horrible political flaws and still maintains a strong group of supportive citizens.
However, Bush was not so lucky. After breaking one promise about not raising taxes, Bush lost any chance of a second term of presidency. On the other hand, Trump’s numerous mistakes throughout his presidency have yet to definitely destroy his chances at a second term.
Bush’s death ultimately signifies the end of traditionally-rooted politics. President Bush’s death proves to all American citizen that no matter how strong a legacy stands a simple change in politics and a succession in presidency can change everything. As our country approaches upcoming election seasons, citizens must keep this inevitable change in mind to maintain future political stability.