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Absolute Power at the Expense of Democracy

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Abstract

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.

Keywords

Foreign Policy Bush Administration Executive Branch Military Spending Reagan Administration 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Robert Justin Goldstein, Political Repression in Modern America (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2001) p. 465.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    David Wise and Thomas Ross, The Invisible Government (New York: Random House, 1964) p. 328.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Frank Donner, Protectors of Privilege: Red Squads and Police Repression in Urban America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992) p. 307.Google Scholar
  4. 14.
    David F. Schmitz, The United States and Right-Wing Dictatorships (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006) p. 115.Google Scholar
  5. 15.
    Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States (New York: Harper Collins, 2003) p. 572.Google Scholar
  6. 19.
    James Patterson, Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush v. Gore (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005) p. 202.Google Scholar
  7. 21.
    David Schnitz, Thank God They’re on Our Side: The United States and Right Wing Dictatorships, 1921–1965 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999) p. 201.Google Scholar
  8. 24.
    Stephen Kinzer, Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq (New York: Henry Holt, 2006) p. 273.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Andrew Kolin 2011

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