Chapter 4 of The Common Good
You hit the nail on the head about this nation’s failure to hold Nixon accountable! Never forget that Nixon walked away from his crimes with a full and unconditional pardon, but men were assessed prison terms ranging from 9 months to 20 years for obeying his unlawful orders. Gerald Ford made a monumental mistake in pardoning Tricky Dick. I would go father in saying that Jimmy Carter grievously erred in commuting the 20-year sentence of G. Gordon Liddy to time served. Liddy was an absolutely evil and unrepentant man who was willing to kill for Nixon. Twenty years were a small price to pay for this fiend.
In Trump, we have something far worse than Nixon. Nixon used the government as a means to satisfy his own vendettas, but Trump tried to overthrow it. Nixon said that he believed in the death penalty, but Trump has vowed to expand it and revive hanging and the firing squad, expanding not only the range of its application but the degree of its cruelty. Trump has not disguised his craving to become a dictator. He deserves to spend the remainder of his life behind bars.
It is difficult to share with young people that there was a time where there was shame and not alternate reality
I agree, Professor Reich that the decline in trust started its downturn with Nixon and has continued down through Trump. It is even affecting a really good President like Joe Biden. But there is another story to go with it. As you pointed out Newt Gingrich stormed into Congress determined to undermine Clinton with every salacious story he could dig up. But something worse happened. Every time the Republicans controlled either the Senate or the House no legislation helpful to the majority of Americans was passed. From Ronnie Baby on, taxation increased greatly on those of us at the lower end of the spectrum. With the 1986 tax "break" my taxes went up in 1987 by $700. In those years I was a teacher. I made decent money for the time, not six figures but getting closer to $50,000. An additional $700 (I was already paying about $3000 State and Federal) hurt.
More and more,, the wealthiest got bigger breaks and we, the "general population" supported them. Obama did manage to get the Affordable Care Act passed; but at the same time he allowed the very people who had taken the saving accounts, raided our pension funds, stole the mortgages from millions of people; to not just get away scot free, but with 900 billion dollars of our tax dollars to sooth their fragile nerves. How do you think we felt reading about Insurance Giant AGS spending $2 million dollars on a Christmas party in Vegas and rewarding their con artist employees with huge bonuses from those bailout funds. I didn't lose my home, but I was very, very, sorry for those who did.
I retired from teaching in 1988 and went to work for Social Services. It broke my heart to see funds cut
to truly needy people. Yes, there were a few drug addicts getting help (5 to 7% of the entire caseload) But most were people who had lost their jobs, women with 2 or 3 children whose husbands had left them.
My point is, the political games are disgusting. But I think the fact that very little helpful legislation and in the 118th Congress NO legislation is passed. I think a lot of us resent that we are paying $274,000 per year in salary plus expenses - both offices an personal, and some darned good benefits and in return all we're getting is 24/7 begging for money. Is it any wonder we're losing our trust in Government?
Mr. Nixon should never have been pardoned. At the time, I thought Mr. Ford was doing that in order for the country to heal. That may have been his intentions but it signaled to the Nixons, Gingriches, Trumps of our country that authority over our country could be had by lies, deceit, and corruption. I like to think that we, as Americans, are a resilient bunch. We live in a country where freedom is treasured. We believe in the justice system to work for EVERYBODY! Mr. Trump must be held accountable for his actions and face the consequences. In order for us to begin to trust and believe in the federal government again, we must ascertain who is fit to be a politician. When I am deciding who to vote for, I research that person's voting record in Congress if they are incumbents. If they are brand new to politics, I ask if they are willing to work across the aisle, bipartisan, to get things done for the American people. If they hedge, or garble the answer, they do not get my vote. Nothing can be done for the American people unless both parties are willing to work together for the common good. We, as Americans, have one very important job and that is to vote. Ask questions, research the person you are considering voting for. I truly believe the Republican Party can stop at the edge of the cliff. Many Republicans want their party to improve. Yes, they will scream about Mr. Trump being a victim, but he is no victim. We were the victims from his time in the White House and in order for us to move beyond those horrible years, we need to see the justice system prevail and hold Mr. Trump accountable. Once that is done, maybe just maybe, all of the wannabe dictators will realize just how strong our Democracy is.
Let there be NO doubt.....Roger Stone, a friend of Trump for measly 45 years, has influenced and advised Trump. Stone screwed Democrats in the 70s as he helped sabotaged carters reelection effort & Stone was the guy behind 'the Brooks Bros. riot' who attempted to intimidate vote counters in Florida 2000 Presidential election. He was convicted of a felony during Trumps term but D pardoned him. This SOB must be stopped once & for all...MAGA must be stopped.
Who do you want to say you stood for? Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Donald Trump and George Santos on one side ,Republicans or on the other side Democrats of FDR, Jimmy Carter, Barrick Obama and Joe Biden? Who will history admire?
There have always been megalomaniacs in politics, and both Nixon and Trump are at the top of that list. I find it quite terrifying that both were actually elected president.
What goes on now in Washington is beyond scary..it's downright horrible, I'm 71 and over my lifetime I have seen, heard, and read about what is happening...it's so damn sad that a country that once was revered throughout the world has been reduced to a joke...with the Republican Party only going after what they want and not giving a damn about what the people who elected them on what they told them during there campaignd for reelection...Ron Johnson said I have a plan to bring down inflation and gas prices...2+ years later...nothing but he's back in Washington...and that's just one person....they the "Republican's" are out to destroy America and they will succeed...they all stand with Trump said he did nothing wrong... election interference he screams, it's a witch hunt...any person who watched television anytime between November & January know exactly what TRUMP did , the people who support him all have their heads in the sand and soon with that happening this country will be buried in sand....LORD help us all...
The route of decline is well outlined in this article, however it lacks one thread. That is the thread of madness. I say madness because I am neither a lawyer or a psychological professional. Although the thread of madness actually predates Nixon. It started with Joseph McCarthy. But there is a thread that ties Watergate to Jan. 6. That is the person of Roger Stone. It took me a while to realize that the Roger Stone who instigated some of Nixon's "dirty tricks" was the same Roger Stone who was arrested on January 25, 2019. In Watergate there was a thread of madness. G. Gordon Liddy and his wife were certainly bonkers. Nixon himself had gone off the rails by the time he recorded the infamous "Watergate Tapes"
I would love to see a book titled From McCarthyism to MAGA: The Transformation of Political Party to Cult.
My parents, both decorated vets of WWII & Republicans, couldn't stand Nixon & referred to him as Tricky Dicky... in 1960, they voted for my generation's President, JFK - a major departure for them. He committed outright treason to win in 68, adopted racism as the Republican core strategy, sacrificed thousands in the Vietnam War he prolonged for his own corrupt purposes... his pardon made it all OK.
Years later, I took my 2 young sons skiing at Beaver Creek in Colorado. Ford had a place there at the base of the slope. The chair we were on passed over his entry, and as we rode up, out came Gerald Ford to get into a big black Suburban. I clacked my skiis together, and a big load of snow fell right down his collar and neck... one small act of defiance!
My father was an accountant. He showed me how to do my own taxes. I was able to see, from one year to the next, every time Ronnie connived another tax ‘break’ mine went up while his - POTUS - went down. Sorry to say, that is the only policy the Republican’s have had since Ike was in the White House - cut taxes for the wealthy, and screw the rest of us.
The underlying issue is race. Our population is becoming darker and some white folks are desperate to stop it. It wasn't obvious in the early 70s. Nixon was just plain racist. Newt probably was racist like Nixon. But demographics were shifting as our labor (oops! I mean immigration) policy kept up a steady stream of dark-skinned migrants. The US will soon no longer be majority white.
Republicans are playing for keeps to keep the USA white.
PS - Ronald Regan probably switched sides as a result of JFK supporting civil rights actions. It wasn't just Nancy's influence.
Richard Nixon and all politicians, have thing in common: they are products of American "culture" (Culture? What culture?) and society. They merely show the true colors of those who vote for them. If we want someone to blame for the current state American public life, all we have to do is look at our reflection in the mirror. People who voted for tfg either saw themselves in him, or wished they could be just like him.
Anderson Cooper remarked recently on CNN that today’s Republican Party was not Reagan’s Republican Party. On the contrary, today’s Republican Party is in every way the logical extension of Reaganism. At least there were Congressional hearings and trials (though not of Nixon himself) as a result of Watergate, and Nixon lost the respect of the country. When Reagan’s minions, and probably Reagan, too, committed treason by secretly negotiating with Iran to release U.S. hostages after the 1980 election, thereby substantially reducing Carter’s chances for reelection, there were no Congressional hearings and no trials and Reagan remains an icon today, paving the way for Anderson Cooper to make his stupid comment. Even Barack Obama lauded Reagan when he (Obama) ran for president, referring to the Reagan presidency as “transformative,” i.e., in a good way. We’ve been dealing with the aftermath of the Reagan presidency ever since, with no really effective challenge to his person or legacy, one is which trickle-down economics, I.e., greed was legitimized and even institutionalized. How is it that a traitor can remain an icon?
Nixon did suffer some consequences. He was about to be removed from office by impeachment so he resigned to spare himself the embarrassment of impeachment proceedings. He was discredited and never again held public office. Trump escaped impeachment twice. That was the most important missed opportunity. Now he's running for office again. That shouldn't even be possible. He should be removed from public life and languishing in shame and obscurity for the rest of his life like Nixon did, but no. He has cast a spell over 35% of the electorate, and Republicans dare not rebuke him lest they alienate that 35%. That's the core problem, that unshakable 35% who are able to dismiss mountains of evidence to conclude that Trump is great, that the 2020 election was stolen from him, and that he should be restored to his rightful place in the Whitehouse. When Trump is blocked from holding office, which he must be, according to the 14th amendment, there will be a huge upheaval, exactly what Ford was concerned about. Biden would be in a position to do what Ford did, had the Senate done to Trump what they would have done to Nixon had he not resigned. The real failure here is with Mitch McConnell and the Republicans in the Senate who should have impeached him when they had the chance.
Thanks Robert for another excellent review and as a foreigner living abroad, we equally have less faith in America's global leadership and even more so we see similar trends across the globe. Individualism combined with greed and ruthlessness have taken the place of common good and compassion. Strong competition between powers always ends up in a big calamity is what history is telling us whilst climate change in itself is already a potential calamity in waiting. Most politicians seem to be in denial mode and the hard historical and current truths hinder their personal ambitions. We need to change this political trend, hold the abusers accountable and take climate change serious to ensure our children have a safe and secure future. 2024 will be an important milestone.