Former President George W. Bush says the Republican Party can’t win if it becomes just a “white Anglo-Saxon Protestantism” party.
Bush, who has reappeared in the public forum as he promotes his new pro-immigration book “Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants,” says the GOP needs to bring in a more diverse group of supporters if it wants to return to power.
“If your Republican Party stands for exclusivity — you know, it used to be country clubs, now evidently it’s white Anglo-Saxon Protestantism — then it’s not going to win anything,” Bush said in a recent interview with The Dispatch podcast.
“My whole point on all this immigration debate and stuff is, I think if we valued life as precious and every life matters, that we’re all God’s children, that all of a sudden the tone of the debate might be a little better,” Bush told hosts Sarah Isgur, a GOP former Department of Justice spokeswoman, and Steven Hayes, the ex-editor-in-chief of The Weekly Standard, on Thursday.
“I mean, I was discouraged when I saw some of the language associated with immigrants and wanted to present a different side,” the 43rd president, 74, said in the interview.
Isgur asked Bush whether he would remain a member of the GOP if the party follows the same path for the next three to five years. “No I’d say there’s not going to be a party,” Bush said. “You know, to me that basically says that we want to be extinct.”
But he said he is still “proudly” a Republican and expressed cautious optimism that the party can return to power.
“I think Republicans will have a second chance to govern, because I believe that the Biden administration is a uniting factor, and particularly on the fiscal side of things. So, you know, we’ll see,” he said.
Bush’s remarks came days after he warned that President Joe Biden’s decision to pull all American troops from Afghanistan could hurt women and girls if the “brutal” Taliban returns to power.
“My first reaction was, wow, these girls are going to have real trouble with the Taliban,” Bush said last week on NBC’s “Today.” “A lot of gains have been made, and so I’m deeply concerned about the plight of women and girls in that country.”
“I think the administration hopes that the girls are going be OK through diplomacy. We’ll find out. All I know is the Taliban, when they had the run of the place, they were brutal,” Bush said.
The war in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, less than a month after the September 11 attacks. But despite campaign pledges by Barack Obama in his first run for the White House — as well as Donald Trump — neither ever fully withdrew U.S. troops from the war-torn nation. The war has cost more than $2.2 trillion, according to one analysis conducted by Brown University’s Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs.
Biden said on April 24 that the events of 9/11 “cannot explain why we should remain there in 2021.” Biden also said he spoke to Bush before announcing the move.
“I spoke yesterday with President Bush to inform him of my decision,” Biden said. “While he and I have had many disagreements over policy throughout the years, we’re absolutely united in our respect and support for the valor, the courage, and integrity of the women and men in the United States Armed Forces who served, and immensely grateful for the bravery and backbone they have shown through nearly two decades of combat deployments.”