President George W. Bush said Tuesday that while he understood that voters "were sick and tired of the status quo," he cautioned that "anger shouldn't drive policy."
"I understand anger — and some people might have been angry when I was president," Bush told a meeting of the North American Strategy for Competitiveness at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas. "But anger shouldn't drive policy.
"What needs to drive policy is what's best for the people who are angry," he said.
Bush's comments came a week after Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton to become president.
He declined to speculate on how the president-elect would govern — and he has generally refrained from commenting publicly on President Barack Obama's performance in the White House.
"Policy really matters to me a lot," Bush told the gathering, according to The Dallas Morning News. "I'm pretty much out of the political world.
"I'm interested in politics, but I don't think it's helpful to have the former president of the country criticize successors.
"It's a hard job to begin with."
Bush instead talked about the issues that his organization are dedicated to, primarily free trade, relating it to the outrage among some Americans over Trump's victory.
"One of the things that is important for people who are frustrated and angry [to know] is that in order to close the wage gap, for example, trade is beneficial," he said. "Trade shows a confidence in our workers and in our business people, because trade really means we are willing to compete."
He also discussed the North American Free-Trade Agreement, which Trump railed against during the campaign.
Bush remarked that when he visited the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas as a child, the area was like "a third-world country on both sides of the border."
"I would urge people to go down to the border now and see how transformed the border is," he continued. "There is a thriving middle class on both sides of the Rio Grande river.
"It is in our interest for our country that that be the case."
Bush said that the nation faced a critical choice: building on its strengths or not.
"Our group here believes we ought to build on the strengths," the Morning News reports. "A strength for our respective countries is the willingness to work together: Canada, Mexico and the United States."
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