Former Presidents Set Example for Unity at One American Appeal


Wayne Chen, Staff Writer

Five former United States presidents put their personal values and political views aside last Saturday to attend the One America Appeal — a benefit concert in Texas for hurricane relief efforts. More and more Americans believe that partisan politics will keeping getting worse, but this relief effort offered a little hope to the world. Their message clearly resonated as the event successfully raised $33 million from 80,000 donors in just three and a half hours. While bipartisanship in politics has escalated to the point where opposing forces are described as radicals, the gathering of five living former presidents this past weekend served as a reminder that Americans can still hope for one indivisible nation, with liberty and justice for all.

The concert was held at Texas A&M University, which is just 90 miles northwest of Houston, a city devastated and almost paralyzed by Hurricane Harvey this past summer. Yet in the context of this event, Texas represented many different things: it is a state with plenty of both conservatives and liberals, as well as being home to an extremely diverse mix of ethnic groups — including 4.7 million immigrants. With its inclusion of both conservative and liberal ideologies, Texas is a reflection of what America stands for, and it was a symbolic venue for the One America Appeal.

Being long-time Texas residents, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush lamented on the catastrophe that took place, and expressed their affection for the state. “We love you Texas,” the elder Bush said in a promotional video for the concert online. It is notable and astonishing that none of the former presidents present spoke about politics or their differences — instead, they repeatedly stressed their intrinsic similarity and collective hope for the future. “The heart of America, without regard to race or religion or political party, is greater than our problems,” Bill Clinton said, signifying his belief that the American identity transcends the borders of race, religion or political parties.

The five former presidents were not alone in their call for unity. “Nothing [is] more beautiful than everyone putting their differences aside to help humanity in the face of catastrophe,” said Lady Gaga, who performed during the event and donated $1 million dollars to the recovery effort. With a piano performance that received a standing ovation from all five former presidents, Gaga echoed the message of persistence while singing “Million Reasons,” a song that contemplates giving up but eventually calls for resilience. She also lived up to her call for aid and unity with her own donation.

Clinton said it right at the event when he stated that “As Americans, we lift each other up.” In a political climate that can be described as polarizing and even toxic, the concert was a strong assurance for the American people that the U.S. is still an indivisible nation and a place where everyone helps each other out in the hardest times.

Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them. Email Wayne Chen at [email protected].