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Richard Nixon Presidency

By ThePinkheart Mar 07, 2015 928 Words
Why was Richard Nixon elected by a landslide in 1972, but forced to resign in August 1974? Richard Nixon was the 37th President of the United States and was president from 1968 to 1974. In the 1972 elections, he won the electoral vote by 96.6% due to many reasons which appealed to many parts of America. However, in 1974, he was forced to resign instead of being impeached because of the Watergate Scandal, which involved people who worked for Nixon tapping phones of the other party. One of the reasons why Nixon won by a landslide in 1972 was because he had a very successful foreign policy, mainly in Vietnam. People in America were extremely fed up and angry with the events happening in Vietnam and the huge negative effect it was having on the economy. Nixon promised ‘Peace with Honour’ in Vietnam which attracted many voters towards him. Many people were sick of Johnson’s policy so the felt as if they ‘needed a change’. Although Nixon didn’t want to use the war to his advantage, his Secretary of State, Kissinger, implied that ‘peace is at hand’ in November 1972 which definitely benefitted Nixon. Nixon had been illegally communicating with the South Vietnamese president to persuade him not to seek a peace settlement while Johnson was still in office. However, Nixon was very vague in speaking about Vietnam and often tried to change the subject when he was asked about it. Therefore eventually not much was done about Vietnam by Nixon, as it still continued after he won the election. Another reason why Nixon won by a landslide in 1972 was because he appealed greatly to Middle America. His campaign focused more directly on Middle America, the ‘silent majority’ Speeches were designed to appeal to anyone opposed to 1960s Counterculture, radicalism and change. He promised to restore law and order to the cities, to make government and more streamlined and economical, and seemed to suggest that he was prepared to curb welfare programmes that in turn would provide tax cuts. This lead to the New Economic Policy and New Federalism which tackled rising inflation, rising unemployment and debt from war expenditure. The New Economic Policy in August 1971 brought in a freeze on wages to try and control inflation. However, it had little long term benefit and didn’t solve underlying problems but the active and innovative approach won Nixon votes. His New Federalism programme gave states more control over spending federal money allocated to them and reduced the bureaucracy connected with federal finances which also won Nixon more votes. Even though many of Nixon’s policies attracted many voters, you can argue that the reason why he won was because the weakness of McGovern. His liberal views were out of touch with conservative Middle America. The Republicans called him the ‘acid, abortion and amnesty candidate’ because he wanted to legalise marijuana and abortion and provide amnesty for Vietnam draft dodgers. This was too permissive and lacked patriotism for many voters. However, almost all of Nixon’s policies appealed to Middle America which confirmed him as their reliable candidate. Nixon kept a personal rather than a Republican focus on his campaign which was a wise move in view of the democratically controlled Congress. Moderate Democrats who didn’t like McGovern were less vocal in opposition to Nixon. Therefore, McGovern’s mistakes and position drove traditionally Democratic groups towards Nixon, resulting in him winning the election by a landslide. Nixon was the first president in the United States that had to resign in 1974. This was mainly due to the Watergate scandal from 1972-1974. People who worked for Nixon had broken into to Watergate building to tap phones of the opposite party. Some of the reasons for ordering the Watergate break in was that because Nixon had decreased the CIA’s power, they were planning to bring Nixon down and to expose democrats linked to radical groups. Nixon was eventually exposed and faced impeachment from presidency by the House Judiciary Committee. Nixon tried to justify his actions over Watergate by saying how his daughter was getting death threats and how ‘everybody tried to bug everybody else’, as Kennedy and Bobby also did it, but he just got caught. He was forced to give up his presidency because he had lost many of the support that he had from everyone around him including Congress as they felt as if they had been ‘betrayed by their own President’, so it would have made it impossible for him to successfully run America. The House Judiciary Committee approved of impeachment on the grounds of instruction of justice including his participation in the cover ups, and on the grounds of abuse of power such as invading civil rights activists and misuse of government agencies such as the FBI and the CIA. Nixon ended up resigning instead of being impeached. He did this because he would still have got his presidential pension of $60,000 and $100,000 for staff expenses. However, if he got impeached, he would have been wiped out financially and would have faced criminal prosecution. Therefore, the main reasons why Nixon won by a landslide in 1972 was because his ‘peace with honour’ policy in Vietnam, his positive appeal towards Middle America, and to some extent, because his rival McGovern lost many votes. The main reason why he was forced to resign in 1974 was because of the Watergate Scandal resulting in losing trust from his colleagues and fear of impeachment. He ended up resigning instead of being impeached to still be able to keep his presidential pension.

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