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Essay: The Watergate Scandal and how it changed America and its Politics

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  • Published: 24 January 2023*
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The Watergate Scandal was one of the most exciting events that happened during a presidency in the history of America. (Weebly) Several burglars were caught and arrested in the Watergate complex of buildings in Washington D.C. in 1972. The burglars were caught wiretapping phones and stealing documents from offices. This scandal all traces back to the President at the time, Richard Nixon. Nixon later resigned when his role in the conspiracy was revealed. Nixon and his chief of staff were recorded during the scandal and were said to have been discussing using the CIA to block the FBI’s investigation after the Scandal. He is most famously known for covering up the scandal and being the only president to resign. (NCC Staff) After the Watergate Scandal, America and its politics adjust and advance by creating a stronger security system and getting loyal members involved including the President and his administration. American people still question their leaders and think much more critically about the presidency and who they choose every 4 years.

One of the first ways the scandal changed politics was how the politicians were portrayed as people and leaders. (NCC Staff) After Nixon and members of his administration were convicted of the crime, Americans were scared of the presidents to come and what they would do behind America’s back. Recently, Andrew Lewis, a member of the Republican party and candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania went out into the state and introduced himself to citizens of PA, one man responded with, “If you are a politician, you must be a crook.” Lewis was not the only running candidate to receive this hate from people either. (NCC Staff) Politicians everywhere receive the same messages and reactions from public opinion polls, letters, and face to face, because Americans are candor to politicians and aren’t afraid to speak their mind. (Karlyn Bowman & Jennifer K. Marsico) + (Weebly) Americans thought that letting political figures know their opinions on them would make their either drop out of the race, but what most did was crumble up the letter and throw it in the trash. Studies show that Americans, when polled, reconsidered every vote they make to reassure themselves that the candidate they chose to elect was not one to make a foolish mistake like Nixon did.

Also when running for presidency, runners have been shown to be bringing more experienced politicians along with them during their term. The best type of person to bring anywhere during any situation is the, “practical type.” This is someone who doesn’t just say something and watch someone else do it, but they give their ideas and are very active when planning and completing them. Bryce Harlow and H.R. Haldeman were two of many of Richard Nixon’s administration during his term. (U.S. News Staff) Harlow was Nixon’s counselor and prior to his job at the time already had a wide experience in politics and the government. After the scandal Harlow was brought back to help the government get back up and moving again. Haldeman was the White House Chief of Staff during Nixon’s term and unlike Harlow, was not that experienced but he was one of the President’s top men at the time. After the scandal broke loose he was under indictment being that he played a role in the Watergate Scandal. (U.S. News Staff) The difference between these men show Americans how being well educated and having good experience in politics helps you to stay out of trouble and be very well liked all around. Being well liked can be hard if that someone is a different race than prior presidents, like President Obama. This man was not liked by many americans because of his race, but he himself never got into trouble nor did his VP Joe Biden either. Both men were well educated and had prior experience in politics as every president should. (U.S. News Staff) Obama was also the President of Harvard Law Review and in the senate, which is where he picked up most of his political background. Biden was also a member of the Delaware senate for thirty-six years. The great thing about these political figures was that they had a lot of experience in the field and they were able to watch the government throughout their terms in the senate before making the big jump into presidency.

Ever since  the day when the Supreme Court demanded Nixon to hand over the recordings and files from the scandal they have been seated higher than every form of government in the United States. One of the tapes that was handed over was the, “Smoking Gun,” tape, which held conversations between President Nixon and his staff about calling off the break-in to the CIA and the FBI while in the process of already performing the scandal. The tape was a coverup for Nixon and his administration while trying to abandon their mission. (NCC Staff) Justices to this day believe that not even the President of the United States is higher than the Supreme Court. The court’s position today is very crucial to how Americans live their lives because the court continues to have power over the executive branch of the government. The Supreme Court became supreme and always will remain supreme. (NCC Staff)

Sadly, Americans link corruption and politics together because of our past. (Karlyn Bowman & Jennifer K. Marsico) In their minds, Americans think that if Nixon was able to allow corruption into his term, why couldn’t any other president do the same. The overall trust from America to the government diminished after the scandal and now Americans are even more pre cautious and scared for who they elect to lead their country for at least four years if more. Citizens of the United States also found that Watergate was the perfect explanation for political mischief making. The Watergate Scandal and Vietnam War weakened the confidence of the government but was later recovered by other occasions.  An assumption was made that the weakness of the government was shot down after the 9/11 attacks took place. Although many individuals died, our government knew how to deal with crises like this one because they had been apart of prior experiences with cases like those before so when it happened again they knew what to do and the weaknesses weren’t to be seen again. Due to the governments prior experiences, they were aware of how to deal with a crisis like this.

Lastly, the trust again was completely lost for the government after the Watergate Scandal. This scandal destabilized the precedent for the United State’s future. While the trust in the government was failing, Americans turned to journalism to ease their worries. (NCC Staff) Journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein contributed to the scandal by investigating in it and covering over recent news at the time. The scandal allowed journalism to create its own popularity and become the biggest it ever was during the days in court after the scandal.  (NCC Staff) Watergate allowed journalists everywhere to dig deeper into many different stories in order to find out new information and send their best stories out to the press for the rest of America to see. Journalists added captivating twists to headline news stories everywhere. (NCC Staff) There will always be distrust in the government because they can not tell the country everything that is going on at that time and moment which can cause the negativity of people to come out as well.

The Watergate scandal changed American politics forever which led to Americans second guessing their leaders and what they would bring to the table while leading America. Not only did the scandal affect people running for President but also those for other jobs like governors, senators, mayors, and so on. People running for positions also became smarter in the fact that they should bring people along with them that have had experience and that are the “practical type.” After dealing with Watergate, the Supreme Court ruled out that they should have the most authority when it comes to dealing with anything since they essentially have a higher power than the President. Since Nixon, Americans have not stopped linking corruption and politics together, because they are scared that whatever one president can do so can another. This linking also affected the amount of trust lost by the people of the U.S. from the government. Since there is no drastic or clearly visible change since the Watergate Scandal, it is never really remembered for what happened and what did change. But these are just some examples of many that show how Watergate changed America and its politics forever.

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Originally published 15.10.2019

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