There is, of course, plenty of blame to go around, but Richard Nixon did give us two terrible precedents. Both struck at the heart of our constitutional order, and they are key elements of our current political catastrophe.
The first of these precedents occurred in the wake of the 1960 election. As you know, John F. Kennedy stole the election with the help of the Mafia in Chicago and the crooked cronies of “Landslide” Lyndon Johnson in Texas. Although this was widely known at the time, Nixon decided not to challenge the results in Illinois and Texas. It was said that he did not want to put the nation through the trauma of a disputed presidential election.
As Guilty As the Thief
I was shocked. Instead of honoring his constitutional duty to stand up for election integrity, Nixon acquiesced to the high crime of a stolen presidential election. Had he mounted a successful challenge, Americans would have had the opportunity to learn about the series of steps that the framers included in the Constitution’s design as safeguards against election theft.
In addition, Nixon would have done so at a time when the news media had not yet gone over completely to the Left. As incredible as it may seem now, the Los Angeles Times was, at that time, generally associated with the Republican Party. As were other media outlets.
Earlier that year, my high school gym teacher had told us that if we left our lockers unlocked and someone stole something from our unlocked locker, we were as guilty as the thief. At the time, I thought he was a jerk. But what Nixon did, or did not do, drove home my gym teacher’s wisdom. Kennedy was guilty of theft, and Nixon was guilty of allowing that theft. Each had, in his own way, disqualified himself for the high office of president of the United States.
I was deeply troubled during the run-up to the election in 1960. It was obvious that either man would be a big step down from Dwight D. Eisenhower. The whole story of the election was right there on their faces, direct from central casting: Kennedy the star, rakish, careless, and shameless, and Nixon, the second banana, wearing a “Kick Me” sign, and destined not to get the girl. Neither one had the stature to be the man behind that desk in the Oval Office.
Together, their shared legacy was acceptance of election theft. Was it a mortal wound to America’s constitutional order? It seems to me that we may be now in the midst of learning the answer to that question.
The Party of Election Theft
The Democrats, to put it simply, are the party of election theft. Democratic-run cities are known for crooked elections and states dominated by the Democrats lean over backward to provide opportunities for election fraud. If Nixon had fought this winnable fight and won, however, the Democrats might have drawn a very different conclusion about the risks and the high political costs associated with getting caught stealing a presidential election. A successful challenge by Nixon might even have moderated the Democrats’ behavior further down the ballot, at least for a while.
Tragically, the accepted political wisdom in my lifetime has been that in order to win, the Republican candidate has to win beyond the margin of theft. Everyone knows that if an election is close, skullduggery likely will give the victory to the Democrat.
Consequently, when the Democrats chose to go for election theft on an industrial scale in 2020, America was unprepared. Voters, and especially Trump voters, looked on in amazement as the actors on the political stage blew through all the safeguards put in place by the founders to prevent the theft of a presidential election. Instead of carrying out their responsibilities to the Constitution and the voters, the people in politics wielded the proverbial rubber stamp in Soviet-style. At each of these critical stages in the Constitutional process, the theft was certified.
Unfortunately, our current political catastrophe includes yet another Nixonian precedent.
High-ranking officials in the FBI and their cronies in the news business colluded to drive Trump from office. Remarkably, this was a rerun of Watergate. Back then, a high-ranking official in the FBI colluded with two Washington Post reporters to drive Nixon from office. The reporters’ efforts were supported by their editor and amplified many times over by others in the news business, filled as it was with Nixon-haters. Nixon eventually acquiesced to the demands and resigned.
You can be sure that had Kennedy been in the same circumstances, he would have brazened it out and not stepped down, though of course Kennedy, unlike Nixon, could have counted on the help of the people in the news business.
Once again, Nixon taught the Democrats a lesson that would later threaten America’s electoral system and constitutional order; if the Washington Post, the New York Times, CNN, and PBS don’t approve of the winner, they can get away with canceling the results of the election by the extra-constitutional means of a brouhaha.
Nixon was the same person in 1960 he was during Watergate. His strange character was such that he expected to be treated unfairly. He also anticipated and acquiesced to being defeated by his enemies. This was a sad fact of Nixon’s life. Tragically for America, because of the high office he sought and won, his personal flaws had terrible consequences for the nation, consequences that are still at work today long after he departed from the political arena.