Opinion | Ellen forgave Bush but we shouldn’t

Zach Davis
Opinions Editor

What are the odds that the day before former President George W. Bush is scheduled to speak on campus, he finds himself at the center of attention for hanging out with Ellen at a football game.

I’ll admit, when I first saw them together, I didn’t get why it was a big deal. Why can’t Ellen hang out with a former U.S. President? No doubt that if she was hanging out with Obama, people wouldn’t be getting this upset. But the more I read into it, the more I began to understand why people were upset with Ellen.

Bush doesn’t exactly have the cleanest of track records. His delayed response to Hurricane Katrina, his role in the Iraq war and his opposition toward LGBTQIA+ rights have made many feel uncomfortable. So when Ellen, a supposedly liberal gay-rights icon was seen smiling and giddy with a so-called war criminal, it was bound to ruffle some feathers.

I watched a video where Ellen expressed that we should be able to be friends with everyone regardless of their political beliefs. She said that although she doesn’t necessarily see eye-to-eye with Bush, she’s comfortable remaining friends.

I agree that we should be friends with those who have differing views than us. But I don’t think that her decision to act friendly with Bush makes his actions as President any less despicable or excusable.

When Bush was in office, he supported a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. He fiercely opposed bills that would have classified crimes against gay people as hate crimes. Time after time, he remained a staunch defender of the belief that gay people do not deserve the same rights as straight people. His actions hurt many – and Ellen excusing these actions hurts many all over again.

We cannot excuse George Bush’s actions because he’s friends with Ellen. We cannot forget and brush aside the atrocious acts he has committed and we cannot forgive him for the damage he caused our country.

Which brings me to my point.

Political officials must be held accountable for their actions. Whether it’s Trump meddling with Ukraine to undermine his 2020 opponents or Bush supporting anti-LGBTQIA+ bills or even Clinton lying under oath about his sex life, we must ensure that our government remains in check. No one is above the law, even the President of the United States.

Our government has become so partisan that they refuse to do anything in fear of the reprimands they’ll receive from their political party. Our system of checks and balances is essentially failing.

My senator from Utah, Mitt Romney, who I don’t agree with on most issues, made me proud when he raised concerns about Trump’s July 25 phone call and called the President’s comments “wrong and appalling.” Although his actions resulted in a spew of hate tweets by Trump, including one that referred to him as a “pompous ‘ass,’” Romney reaffirmed his duty to hold our President accountable – whatever the consequences may be. His actions should act as inspiration for other Republicans in Congress.

It’s upsetting that lawmakers will ignore the truth in order to secure one more seat on Capitol Hill. That’s not how our government is supposed to work. We cannot fall complacent – we must keep those in power in check.

That’s why I’ll never forgive Bush for his actions. Even if Ellen is comfortable forgetting such atrocities, I’m not. I can’t simply brush aside the things he did. I’m lucky that I’m able to marry who I love today. But if Bush had gotten his way, I wouldn’t be allowed to. And that’s pretty messed up.