A public opinion poll earlier this month suggested a majority of American, including even Democrats, now have a favorable opinion of former United States President George W. Bush.
As I had observed in posts during the Obama Administration, Bush’s rating has been rising, as people gain perspective and partisanship recedes and they reflect on his accomplishments with more gratitude, such as keeping Americans safe from another major terrorist attack like those on September 11 and view him in contrast to his immediate successor. Such a contrast is especially noticeable now between the conservative Republican Bush and Donald Trump, a non-conservative Republican who is viewed unfavorably by Americans, according to every major public opinion poll.
It is worth remembering that Bush was criticized by liberals and Democrats for making the promotion of freedom a cornerstone of
policy, whereas Trump ignores, excuses and even praises authoritarianism. For example, Trump praised the Filipino
President’s policy of urging Filipinos to murder suspected drug dealers and
praised the Turkish Islamist authoritarian President for the passage of a
constitutional referendum, under less than completely free and fair
circumstances, to increase his powers significantly to the point of making him
an autocrat. Trump pointedly refuses to
criticize Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin.
Because of Trump’s praise of despots and his own authoritarian
proclivities, Bush’s promotion of freedom is something that all but the most hard-line
Stalinists on the left can appreciate better, even if they disagreed with the
specifics of its implementation.
The promotion of freedom, the natural state of man, or at least the avoidance of words or actions that advance authoritarianism, is a defense of self-determination, including American independence, even if the promotion only takes the form of moral declarations. Furthermore, an increase in freedom causes an increase in global peace and prosperity.