There are three major issues emphasized during the 1969-1974 term of President Richard Nixon: Vietnam, domestic policies, and the infamous Watergate affair. Nixon inherited the Vietnam War from Lyndon Johnson. The war had caused years of turmoil among Americans who believed that America should not even participate in the war in the first place. In an aim to bring peace, he initiated the Vietnamization of the war, centering of the withdrawal of the US troops. For a while, the plan seemed to be working, but the damage had already been done.
Back home, America found herself with a dissenting generation. The war had already drained the country’s economy, inflation was high, crimes and civil rights movement were rapidly swelling. Nixon tried to solve this by injecting domestic policies that involved increasing interest rates to curb borrowing and introducing what the president called “affirmative action programs,” initiatives that hired minorities and women. Some African Americans who were able to finish college benefited from this but majority were still poor and stayed in slums.
Furthermore, people blamed the Supreme Court for the rising incidents of crime so Nixon filled the court with conservative justices. However, while this alleviated the bevy of civil rights movement, it did not entirely solve the crimes. What it did was that it ushered an “us vs. them” sentiment, a battle between Nixon and those who opposed him, people who Nixon thought were countering the American values. During Nixon’s term, the activism was popular-environmental, consumer, and feminist movements were formed.
People had become liberalized, more aware of their rights and surroundings. It seemed that Nixon’s gameplan was not working. Nixon’s economic strategy also failed to work. It was not until 1971 when the president started a 90-day freeze on wages, prices and rents that his efforts finally started to pay off; inflation and unemployment had lessened. This improvement, along with having positive foreign relations helped him earned a reelection. But it only ushered the road to Nixon’s downfall.
The illegal activities of the Committee to Reelect the President erupted into what became known as the Watergate Scandal which led to the president’s resignation. From a popular man, Nixon placed himself in a world of lies, crimes and deception. His presidency was in shambles. The lesson of the scandal became clear: that there would always be the dangers of uninhibited executive power and opportunities for political abuse. It was and still is something American will forever be cautious of. Maybe just for that, however painful and shameful it sounds, Americans are grateful for Nixon.
Courtney from Study Moose
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