Donald Trump does not reflect the Republican party's "principles or inclusive legacy," former Florida governor and 2016 GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush writes in a fiery opinion piece for Saturday's Washington Post.
"Call it a tipping point, a time of choosing or testing," Bush writes. "Whatever you call it, it is clear that this election will have far-reaching consequences for both the Republican Party and our exceptional country."
Trump has tapped into the country's anxiety, without a doubt, said Bush, but he didn't create the United States' current political culture: The blame that lies with the Obama administration.
"Eight years of the divisive tactics of President Obama and his allies have undermined Americans' faith in politics and government to accomplish anything constructive," writes Bush. Obama often exceeds his authority by using his powers as president to punish opponents, issue legislation from the White House "and turn agency rulemaking into a weapon for liberal dogma."
And as a response, a segment of the Republican Party set out to "out-polarize" Obama by "making us seem anti-immigrant, anti-women, anti-science, anti-gay, anti-worker and anti-common-sense," said Bush.
That has left the country with no semblance of bipartisanship, resulting in gridlock and a breakdown of the nation's political system, he continues, and that gave rise to Trump and his "abrasive, Know Nothing-like nativist rhetoric" which is blocking sober discourse.
And then there's presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who promises to continue the policies of the Obama administration, said Bush.
"She has gone as far as to say Republicans are her 'enemy' — a clear sign she doesn’t have any more interest in doing the hard work of forging consensus than her former boss does," said Bush.
He expects the next four months of the presidential campaign to be "entertaining," but he doesn't think it will solve anything, and he doesn't know yet whether he'll support Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson or write in a candidate.
But there are things the party can do to rebuild and set a foundation for conservative renewal, including retaining party control in Congress and in the states.
"We need House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and others to retain this important check on the power of the White House and federal bureaucracy, no matter who wins the presidency," said Bush.
He also called for moving beyond the daily arguments on Twitter and instead rally around a policy agenda that rebuilds trust in the Republican Party.
"Rebuilding trust in our party and, ultimately, in our government, requires that we be the catalysts that lead to change," Bush said, outlining a call to return to traditional party principles.
"We can renew our country by applying conservative principles and aspirational politics over the long haul, but it will take stick-with-it-ness and strong leadership in the years to come," he concludes.
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