Former president George W. Bush made public comments on Oct. 19 that some are taking as criticism of President Donald J. Trump.
"When we lose sight of our ideals, it is not democracy that has failed, it is the failure of those charged with preserving and protecting democracy," the former U.S. president said in remarks at the George W. Bush Institute, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Throughout the speech, Bush continued to reflect on America's current political climate.
"Bigotry seems emboldened," he said. "Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication."
"Our young people need positive role models," the ex-president added. "Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children."
At another point, Bush touched on issues of race and bigotry, alluding to the controversy over an August white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia. One woman died at the event when a man drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors; President Trump provoked outrage after he responded to the protests by saying there was "blame on both sides."
"We’ve become the heirs of Martin Luther King, Jr., by recognizing one another not by the color of their skin but by the content of the character," Bush said. "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."
Bush also appeared to criticize the Trump administration's stance on foreign policy, border security, and approaches to immigration.
"We've seen nationalism distorted into nativism, forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America," Bush said. "We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade, forgetting that conflict, instability and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism."
"We've seen the return of isolationist sentiments, forgetting that American security is directly threatened by the chaos and despair of distant places where threats such as terrorism, infectious disease, criminal gangs and drug trafficking tend to emerge," added Bush.
Only a few days before Bush made his speech, another Republican also criticized prevailing political trends without directly mentioning the current president's name.
On Oct. 16, Sen. John McCain warned Americans against "half-baked, spurious nationalism" while accepting the Liberty Medal award from the National Constitution Center, reports NPR.
"To abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership 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," McCain proclaimed.