In a signature American moment on Wednesday, Washington mourned the death of the 41st President of the United States at his funeral.
The invitation-only state funeral of the former president at the National Cathedral marked the presence of several key entities, which otherwise would not have been found under the same roof.
The front pew was shared between the conservatives and the liberals at the sacred gathering. Abandoning their collision for a brief moment, the newly empowered and the old establishment sat together, but in an overwrought state.
The moment united several leaders from the US and across the world. Among the global figures were: Prince Charles of Wales, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, and the former British Prime Minister John Major.
Besides, Bush’s funeral also brought together five US presidents, including Donald Trump, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, along with their wives. While the Clintons, Obamas and Carters were seen in conversation, Trump’s arrival led to a shift in the ambience to a visibly tensed and stiffened arrangement.
The funeral takes us to the political era during the reign of the 41st president, George H. W. Bush, depicting the extent to which the US politics has transformed under the current leader of the same political party.
Trump like Bush belongs to the Republican Party, carrying the similar conservative ideology that is considered as the essence of the GOP. However, there is a yawning difference in the approach of the 41st and the 45th GOP presidents towards that ideology.
Shift in the GOP approach from Bush to Trump
George H. W. Bush was a natural born leader, who stepped in the leadership arena during the World War II, becoming the youngest commissioned pilot in the naval air service. On the other hand, Donald Trump is more business-minded in his approach while taking the political decisions.
From Bush to Trump, there have been dramatic changes in the American conservatism. The era of Bush was distant with respect to the political culture and refined traditions. The then Republican Party was down on budget deficits and embraced free trade.
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of 1992 — signed between George H. W. Bush, the former Mexican President and Canadian Prime Minister, Carlos Salinas de Gortari and Brian Mulroney respectively — created the largest trade free area in the world’s history.
However, Trump considered the previous deal a “disaster.” He renegotiated the NAFTA deal with both the countries this year, renaming it as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The deal was reconsidered in an attempt to lower the trade deficit with Mexico, while Canada was isolated from the negotiations for a long period.
The NAFTA deal by Bush focused more on the trade benefits in the long term, while Trump was more concerned about the profitable aspects like jobs and wages.
The gigantic distance between the Bush and Trump presidency can also be seen in the US presence in the Middle East. George H. W. Bush acted as a careful and pragmatic manager during the final dramas of the Cold War.
Under Bush’s leadership, the United States and its allies launched a military operation to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1991. The coalition forces successfully liberated Kuwait.
While Bush used his power to free a country from the invasion, whereas Trump can be seen supporting the killings of civilians in the countries like Yemen and Syria.
The basic and the most crucial difference between the 41st and 45th president lies on the humanitarian grounds. Both of them have been using the money of the taxpayers, but with different intentions and causes.
Trump’s moves are mostly an indication of short term profitable outcomes, compromising on long term US political objectives. On the other hand, Bush’s decisions were instead driven by far-sightedness and welfare of the country on the global platform. The different outlook of both republican leaders signifies a tremendous shift in the conservative approach in the US political culture.