From a young age, I was fascinated with the Richard Nixon saga. As a young Mexican, I was becoming aware of the duplicity of politics and the idea that government was self-centered and focused only on its own gain. I was living two sides of an argument at the same time – on one side, the government worked for the people and on the other side, the people bemoaned the abuses of government. I was in the middle of a schizophrenic existence with two sides tugging upon my belief systems – that the government was salvation or that the government was disaster. As I attempted to meld myself into this reality, I became aware that the president of the United States was being publicly accused of a crime eventually forcing Richard Nixon to abandon his post in disgrace.
As is the smoke-and-mirrors reality of Mexico’s society, I soon became accustomed to hearing accolades towards government officials in public places with those same people calling them pinche politicos in private. I was having a hard time accepting this reality because I preferred a black-and-white reality over shades of grey. The United States, as usual, was propped up as the democracy that the world should aspire to. Yet, the president of the United States was publicly ridiculed, put up to judicial scrutiny and subsequently drummed out of office. The Richard Nixon affair fascinated me from that moment on.
Overtime I came to accept the sad reality that in México, the United States and in all other countries, the political class was just as human as the rest of us and many times, if not all, they worked for their own selfish benefits rather than for the benefit of the country. To my U.S. friends, yes, there is a political class in the United States, even if some of you would wish to pretend it does not exist. But the political rhetoric, from the lowliest post to the presidency is always wrapped around the idea that the new politico will salvage the establishment, hold the line on taxes and make the community better for the voters. But as soon as the election is over, the politico goes about raising taxes and making their fiefdoms serve them, rather than the people.
That is the nature of the political system and the reality. Yet, the system sometimes works for the country. The expulsion of Nixon is one such example. As much maligned as Carlos Salinas de Gortari is today, the fact remains that had he not single-handedly pushed forth the NAFTA agenda in México, today, México would be Venezuela.
The Richard Nixon saga keeps coming up today with the saga of the Donald Trump administration. Since Nixon, all U.S. presidents have had controversies surrounding them. The so-called Drug War is front and center. Iran Contra, the Lewinski affair, Whitewater, the Iraq invasion, the list goes on and on. Since Nixon, each U.S. president has been publicly scrutinized and many times scorned by parts of the political system. Such is the nature of an adversarial political system.
I am fully aware that in the two-party spectrum of the United States political system, there will always be one-side opposed to the success of the other side. As such, it is difficult to fully comprehend the extent of the discord, and or, support of the Trump administration because the political noise gets louder and louder each year. The political chatter is driven by lowering decorum and the addition of new technology. The faster and wider the information is delivered, the louder the political noise is.
The traditional news media, i.e. the newspapers and the television news used to control the political noise by how they colluded together, sometimes with the political system, to disseminate the information that drives the opinions of the electorate.
Today, the political noise is amplified by uncontrolled access to information that is unfiltered and unanalyzed for public consumption. The problem is that the onslaught of information from technology, i.e., the internet, has made public discourse extremely difficult because it is very time consuming to filter the false information out from the noise. People have lost their critical thought process, thus many believe that if it is published it must be real.
In U.S. and Mexican politics, I am only aware of one president that has been dismissed by the political system before their term was up – Richard Nixon. I am sure there are others in both countries that should have also been expelled, but Nixon has been the only one to date.
As I see it, Richard Nixon was expelled for the good of the political system. All political systems first look to protect themselves before looking to protect the electorate. Political shenanigans and crimes are often covered up or ignored for the good of the party and the political system. That is until the conduct is so egregious that the political system must rid itself of the bad actor to protect the system itself. Richard Nixon was publicly expelled because it was the only way to keep the system in place.
The conduct by Richard Nixon resonated so deeply in the electorate, that Nixon had to leave to keep the system intact. To do otherwise would have exposed the system to destruction because the electorate would have lost faith in the system leading to its destruction. All revolutions and calls for independence derive from the simple fact that the voters lose faith in the system and thus become so disfranchised that they become willing to throw livelihoods, their lives and their futures out the window to force the system to change.
Richard Nixon took the system to the edge and the system responded by throwing him to the wolves.
This is the lesson we need to remember as we try to sift through the endless noise of Donald Trump wrongdoing. The future of Donald Trump lies on where the system determines that Trump is too much of a liability and thus he must be thrown out to the wolves. There is a lot of noise but the question remains, is it enough for the system to rid itself of Trump?