Absolute Power at the Expense of Democracy
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Once in office, Nixon expanded the apparatus of agencies involved in political repression, a move that would culminate in Watergate, the quintessential illustration of his administration’s efforts to eliminate legal constitutional principles. Watergate was a historic first: an administration sought to undermine the electoral process, and in effect, fix an election. The only police state element that Watergate lacked but which was present with 9/11 was an external-internal crisis. Nixon was, in part, hampered by mass movements and an unpopular Vietnam War, while George W. Bush was not; unlike Nixon, the Bush administration had successfully manufactured a threat in Saddam Hussein. Nixon endeavored to eliminate mass-based democracy inside and outside government; by the time Bush took office in 2000, there was not much democracy left to speak of. The Nixon administration helped lay the groundwork for the Bush police state by confronting the broad-based political movements that America hadn’t seen since the Great Depression. Nixon was deeply suspicious of diverse viewpoints and those who questioned his authority. His governing style was paranoid, and he exhibited ongoing concerns over whether his associates were friends or “enemies.” Nixon’s closest advisors regarded opponents of Nixon’s policies, especially student demonstrators, as enemies. The administration used the FBI, the CIA, and the IRS to accelerate measures against political dissent.
KeywordsForeign Policy Bush Administration Executive Branch Military Spending Reagan Administration
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