6 January 2018
Is the government trustworthy? Are politics corrupt? These are the questions that have troubled American citizens for decades.
Confidence in the government has long been a fluctuating and controversial issue. With Donald Trump in office, the debates regarding the distrust in the administration are growing more intense, further dividing the population on the issue of politics. What’s new?
Many say that the trend of skepticism surrounding the government greatly increased after the Watergate Scandal — when “plumbers” of the Nixon administration were caught trying to raid the Democratic National Convention. In attempts to deny involvement, Richard Nixon refused to give up tapes that would likely incriminate him; however, this ultimately led to his resignation in August of 1974.
This infamous event resulted in a revelation of the potential corruption behind the American government as a whole.
43 years later, how does Watergate compare to the accusations against Trump and his alleged communications with Russia? A recent survey conducted by Public Policy Polling on August 2017 found that support for the impeachment of Donald Trump is at all time high. With 49% of voters in support of the impeachment and 41% against it, this poll marked the sixth month in a row a plurality of voters were in favor of removing the president from office. Moreover, contradictory to Trump’s claims that he had accomplished more in 9 months than any President in American history, 66% of the surveyed population stated otherwise.
These statistics share a similar pattern with those released by the Town Crier in 1974. Could the same survey questions be asked today? The Atholton community responded :
Sophomore Olivia Lampf expressed how differences between the two administrations made it difficult to compare Nixon to Trump.
Another sophomore, Vincent Nimmo, agreed: “It’s a totally different situation. With Nixon, they had proof that he was doing scandals and stuff. With the Trump administration we don’t really know what’s going on yet.”
“Trump did not break or order anyone to break into places like Nixon did,” Junior Andrew Waxman elaborated, “so I think it’s quite different. I don’t think Trump is close to being impeached. If you look at the latest vote, it was like 350 to 58. But yeah, the political climate is de nitely similar to 1974.”
Others, in contrast, discussed the parallels between the two administrations.
Mr. Jones called the 1974 survey relevant then and “even more so today, because of the access of information and social media, and awareness and civic inquiry about their leaders and the people challenging [the government].”
Sophomore Taylor James connected the thought of Nixon being controlled by corporations to Trump, saying that she thinks Trump is heavily influenced by money. “I think he’s taking that fact, that he has so much money and businesses, I think he’s taking that as he can do whatever he wants,” she said.
Sophomore Alex Mouangue also focused on the parallel between illegitimate control between the two administrations. “I think it’s wack that they’re working so hard to defend this when it’s kind of obvious that there was communication [with Russia], she said.
Another students expressed less enthusiastic viewpoints about politics.
Freshman Sophie Tsai mentioned her lack of interest and said, “You really don’t know much with government and politics these days. I’m not sure. I don’t know; I really don’t want to assume stuff.” Tsai expressed the frustration that many feel when trying to make judgements about current events accurately.
The Watergate Scandal created an uneasy political environment, according to Mr. Jones. “The current administration has given us plenty of ammunition and fodder to be even more skeptical and distrusting of what our chief executive says,” he added. Mr. Jones furthered that the administration has fueled the notion that we should “not take for granted [information] just because the President is saying something.”
Lampf offers a note of reflection. “It’s [political climate has] been better in the past; I think it’ll be better in the future, but right now it’s not good.”
Doubt and dissent in the government has been there, including but not limited to the times of Watergate and Russia.
Who knows? Maybe government scandals are an inalienable part of American political culture.
Only time will tell.