40 years ago today, the Watergate scandal erupted, as seven “burglars” were caught at the Watergate complex in Washington, DC, inside the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee.
The scandal lasted more than two years before President Richard Nixon was forced to resign, in the midst of an impeachment effort that had succeeded, and would have led to his removal from office had he not resigned.
The events of 40 years ago transformed the Presidency, the news media, the political parties, and Americans’ views of their government.
It has led to investigative media that is ready and willing to expose scandal and evil like never before.
It has led to such partisanship that no President can ever really have a true mandate anymore, and antagonism between the major political parties is at an all time high since the Civil War era.
Most Americans are skeptical of the value and virtues of government, a terrible and tragic event, considering the complex world we live in.
Richard Nixon’s reputation has risen quite a bit since his resignation, as many have realized how tragic his downfall was, as he had actually accomplished a great deal of good, mixed in with the evil events of his Presidency.
Disillusionment with many of his successors in the White House has also helped to make him look “better” in many people’s eyes, but the revelation of new transcripts of the Watergate tapes every year remind us just how dangerous and law breaking the 37th President of the United States actually was.
The need for mental health evaluations of Presidential candidates seem more essential now than ever, considering that there were manifestations of mental illness by Nixon, and instability in behavior by Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush in later times.
The Watergate scandal still fascinates us, as a turning point in American history, on the level of the Civil War and the Great Depression, in its long range impact on the nation.
With the Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, and the major exposer of the scandal, John Dean, still alive and kicking, Watergate in many ways is still current, but the question is whether the lessons of that scandal have been learned in a time when we are having millionaires and billionaires investing obscene amounts in campaign spending on the Presidential campaign, thanks to the disgraceful Citizens United case of the Supreme Court in 2010.
So in a sense, Watergate is the past, but also part of the present political situation, sadly!