Nixonian? Let’s Talk About That


WoodwardBernsteinReuters

Richard Nixon left office as one of the most reviled Presidents in American history. He was the first and only to resign office, and he would have been, at a minimum, impeached (if not removed from office). His level of corruption, and his paranoia, have come to be known as “Nixonian,” which is certainly not a compliment.

There’s another side though to being “Nixonian,” dealing with what you get done as President. Nixon created the EPA, he proposed national health care, he negotiated with the Chinese (and even visited them), and he was generally a productive President until his scandals completely shot his Presidency in the foot. Watergate served as the impetus for curbing Presidential power, and creating a much more limited executive power.

Nixon is mostly attacked for Watergate and his actions in Vietnam, and with good reason. His paranoia levels were unnecessary, and cut down one of the most successful political careers of the 20th century. He really wasn’t given credit for the things he did do until the 1990s, and then he died. He ruined his own career.

Yesterday was the 41st anniversary of his resignation though, and it’s worth noting how far from Nixonian his political party is today. Sure, the same levels of paranoia and fear remain, but the levels of effectiveness are gone. Last week, ten men stood on stage in a debate and rejected any real link to the successes of Nixon. They talked about making government incapable of doing anything, unlike Nixon who had achievements. They reject action on the environment, unlike Nixon who created the EPA. They reject any form of national action on health care, unlike Nixon who proposed it. They reject talking to our enemies and negotiating anything, unlike Nixon who did those things. There was plenty of paranoia, be it at women, minorities, or foreigners, enough to make Nixon proud. There just wasn’t nearly the level of achievement.

As amazing as this is, the Republican Party has fallen a far ways from the days of the only President to resign in our nation’s history. While Nixon had many reprehensible qualities, he had some interest in governing achievements. Today’s GOP is lead by the Pauls, Cruzes, and Trumps of the world, who espouse no interest in attaining “Nixonian” status in any way but paranoia. They actually make the nation miss Nixon.

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