Blame Nixon

Donald Trump's, and Republicans', election-fraud problems are Richard Nixon's fault.

Donald Trump, for all his many great and worthy strengths, has a horror of ever admitting that he is wrong or might have made a mistake.  Instead, he likes to cast blame when bad things happen.  For sure, there's plenty of blame to go around regarding his unprecedented Federal prosecution by his political opponent's Justice Department for what is, at bottom, a paperwork dispute.

But he's not going nearly far enough in assigning blame, because the true fault for our current situation of a runaway, weaponized, unaccountable, election-rigging government lies with none other than Richard Nixon.

When Tricky Dick Wimped Out

As Americans, we have certain expectations of our government.  Yes, many of those are bad - we expect it to be slow, deeply inefficient, and grotesquely costly - but we also don't expect astronomical corruption, or bad-faith active destruction of the body politic.  And for most of America's existence, that generally held sway.

Yes, New York's Tammany Hall gang fleeced the taxpayers mercilessly, but they also built a great deal of city infrastructure that still benefits Gotham today.

Yes, Democrats and Republicans, and before them the Whigs, disagreed as to what policies would best benefit American strength, wealth, and security, but there mostly wasn't any doubt that both sides truly did desire American strength, wealth, and security, and were pursuing it to the best of their ability, while raking off the odd percent or three here and there.

Even the most personally foul Presidents had worthy redeeming virtues.  John F. Kennedy was a shameless womanizer that would make an NBA star blush, but he was also a legitimate war hero who personally saved the lives of several of his men while coming very close to dying in direct combat with an implacable enemy.  He failed miserably in his first encounter with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, but recognized his failure and worked hard to improve.

However, for all that JFK truly did love his country, he didn't belong in the Oval Office: his victory in the 1960 election is now widely accepted to have been stolen by election fraud, arranged by his running-mate "Landslide" Lyndon Johnson of (then-staunchly-Democrat) Texas, and Mayor Richard Daley of the Chicago machine.  Of course we'll never know the details for sure, but the point is that Mr. Nixon believed he had been robbed... and decided to do nothing about it legally.

The American people should not know that the presidency of the United States can be stolen.

- Richard Nixon

That doesn't mean he did nothing at all - history shows that the lesson Mr. Nixon learned from his 1960 experience was "When the going gets tough, the tough start cheating."  Even that far back, though, he should have realized that what a Democrat can get away with, a Republican cannot, and so it turned out to be.

Would it have been possible for Mr. Nixon to prove that Mr. Kennedy had won by fraud?  Likely not: while some recounts were conducted, no great change in numbers resulted.  On the other hand, no recount could show how many genuine-seeming ballots were cast by residents of Chicago graveyards, Texan transient ranch hands, or illegals.

Mr. Nixon came to believe that cheating in American politics is OK, which ultimately destroyed him when Republican Senators turned against him.  The correct lesson, in 1960 as today, is that vote fraud and other forms of cheating in American politics is just fine if you're a Democrat and not otherwise.

True to past form, Mr. Nixon tried to cloak his hesitance to fight the fraud with a high-minded concern for the tender sensitivities of the American public.  In reality, he felt, probably accurately, that being viewed as a "sore loser" would be the kiss of death to any future campaign he might wish to engage in as a Republican.

Even back then, he probably saw that questioning elections is OK if you're a Democrat: Hillary still blames her 2016 loss on Russian cheating in favor of Mr. Trump and Al Gore still questions his loss to Mr. Bush in 2000, whereas Mr. Trump and Ms. Lake questioning more recent elections is a threat to "our democracy" where Democrats win all close elections. In Donald Trump, we are already seeing this as quite a few Republicans who'd otherwise like him are sick of hearing him complain about being robbed.

Mr. Nixon's Better Path

Suppose, though, that Mr. Nixon had been driven by righteous indignation like Mr. Trump, and not (just) a thirst for personal power?  If he'd come out in full-throated fury, the American people would have had no choice but to listen.  In 1960, the media and cultural scene were already leaning to the left, but they weren't as completely captured by far-left anti-Americans as they are today.  There were many Republican newspapers, and even the TV networks felt a need to appear to be impartial, limiting their ability to control news by ignoring inconvenient stories.

As Mr. Trump himself has revealed, a major-party candidate by definition cannot be ignored, and attempting to spin him too hard simply destroys the credibility of news organizations that try.

The America of 1960 believed far more in fair play and morals than we do today.  What's more, the governments of Chicago and the Democrat Jim Crow "solid South" were held in far more widespread contempt than those of the Democrat disaster cities and bankrupt blue states are today.

While national Democrats were happy to accept the votes, funds, and help of their misgoverned compatriots, they still were capable of being embarrassed by the obvious injustices and maladministration.  In a few short years, the Jim Crow racism that had locked Democrats into Southern power for most of a century would be ended by an America that found such views repugnant and retrograde.

A Mr. Nixon who truly loved his country and was willing to sacrifice for its benefit would have started a crusade against electoral fraud.  It's unlikely that anything would have occurred to change the 1960 result, but, considering that at least some fraud demonstrably did occur as was quickly proved, President Kennedy would not have dared oppose angry Republicans for fear of, in effect, confessing to the truth of the accusations.

Back then, it would have been relatively easy to establish the straightforward, common-sense anti-fraud measures that are standard in every democratic country across the world save America: universal government ID requirements, strictly limited absentee voting, a single heavily-regulated and well-monitored Election Day.  Imagine how every election from that day to this would have been different, had those standards been enacted into law in the early 1960s, before America's cultural consensus fell apart?

The Road Not Taken

Unfortunately, that wasn't what Mr. Nixon chose; instead, he decided to simply cheat more and harder.  As we all know, though, the Republican party, then as now,was as incompetent and feckless at cheating as it is at promoting the concerns of its voters.

Had Mr. Nixon taken the opportunity given to him to clean America's electoral house, Donald Trump would be president today.  Of course, had Mr. Nixon done that, perhaps we wouldn't have needed a President Trump in the first place.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Partisanship.
Reader Comments

It's obvious that Democrats' efforts over 4 years to remove Trump by any means necessary, illegal or not, were perfectly fine. It's also obvious that any Republican complaints about election irregularities are a threat to our democracy. Trump should have acted like Nixon, and accepted any vote fraud that might have occurred, whether it changed the election outcome or not.

The fact that Nixon's acceptance of vote fraud encouraged over 2 decades of increasingly outrageous vote fraud in Chicago is irrelevant, because it helped Democrats. It was impolite when the Reagan DOJ prosecuted and convicted 63 Chicago Machine Democrats for casting 100,000 fraudulent votes in the 1982 election for Governor of Illinois. The fact that Republican Jim Thompson won by just under 9,000 votes added insult to injury.

It is our duty as Republicans to accept defeat meekly. Only Democrats are allowed to claim elections are illegitimate, and act in any way necessary to nullify election outcomes they don't like.

June 22, 2023 11:22 AM

"Donald Trump [...] has a horror of ever admitting that he is wrong or might have made a mistake."

Yeah?! Who in public life doesn't!? Apart from Slick Willie's lip-biting performance, I defy you to find me any public figure that attains the standard to which we -- for reasons I cannot understand -- insist on holding Trump, and only Trump. I don't know if our side feels the need to virtue-signal about the Bad Orange Man's faults but it gains you nothing.

June 25, 2023 1:48 PM
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