Refusing to Learn the Lesson of Nixon’s Presidency

The shock of Republicans and conservatives so quickly abandoning their principles and saluting Herr Trump, combined with the shock that more than half the voters will consider Trump in the fall is sinking in. I had thought until this week that this election could be a landslide repudiation of one party’s candidate like 1964 or 1972, and Democrats could take both Houses of Congress as well as the presidency if Trump is the GOP nominee. That now seems unlikely. Barry Goldwater in 1964 and George McGovern in 1972 never topped Johnson and Nixon in any polls. They never had a chance at victory. Trump clearly does.

I had thought at least 60 percent of the American people were wiser than to seriously consider voting for an obvious charlatan, shape-shifter, and hate-monger. I have respected every presidential pick the American people has made in my lifetime, even winners I personally opposed like Reagan, GHW Bush, and GW Bush, with one exception — 1968 when I believe they were hoodwinked by “the Selling of the President” to choose a venal crook, Nixon, who had no secret plan to end the Vietnam War as he claimed, and deeply divided the nation, over an honorable visionary, Hubert Humphrey, who would have brought the country together. And that decision has had negative consequences to this day.
This week has made a cynic out of me. “No one has ever lost money under-estimating the intelligence of the American people,” said H.L. Mencken, and I fear this election could reveal the truth of that aphorism.
Americans have no sense of history, and have forgotten the lesson of Nixon. Perhaps every generation has to re-learn what liberty and the Bill of Rights mean, and to learn what it means to them.
If Trump wins, I predict a chaotic four years, in which he repeatedly pushes the boundaries of propriety and legality. Like Nixon, he is a megalomaniac who believes “if the president does it, it’s not illegal.” I predict either a serious erosion in democracy and liberties, or his impeachment and removal from office. If Democrats and Republicans finally unite against him in favor of the rule of law, not of men, then maybe we will take our country back from the brink of disaster.
But first we may have to endure a long national nightmare in which no one’s rights will be secure, the stability of this nation and of the world will be seriously jeopardized.
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