George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States, was the last in an “older breed of politicians” who treated the presidency with “the respect it deserves as quoted by Costas Panagopoulos, a Political Science professor at Northeastern University. Bush died at the age of 94 years. Panagopoulos feels, “He was the epitome of class and elegance.” He was a very humble public servant who had been taught to appreciate and revere his country and his duty to serve it in different capacities. That kind of deference and reverence was manifested in his actions and his approach to the presidency which contrasts sharply with today’s brittle partisan political environment.
Political friends and foes alike made note over the weekend of Bush’s example, especially after his presidency, of a politician who rose above petty partisanship. President Donald J. Trump, putting aside a feud with the Bush family, praised Bush’s leadership and designated Wednesday, December 5 a national day of mourning. Panagopoulos opined, “The end of the Bush presidency heralded the shift toward a more negative political tone and more intensely the partisan divide in the U.S. politics can be traced back to his loss to Bill Clinton in 1992”.
The surprise of Clinton’s win and Bush’s loss didn’t cause a shift in political tone, Panagopoulos said, but instead coincided with several other factors—including the birth of Fox News and the rise to power of Newt Gingrich as the Speaker of the House. That, along with similarly divisive media outlets and personalities on the other side of the spectrum, contributed to today’s political trench warfare. Panagopoulos opined, “I don’t want to ascribe any causal effects, but I will say it had something to do with the intensely partisan environment that has continued almost unabated to today.” Overall, Bush’s legacy is one of respect and duty and commitment to serving the U.S. in many different capacities and that can’t be overlooked.