The Fault in Our Political Climate


I’m confident that if Richard Nixon was alive right now, he’d be green with envy. It only took one scandal for Congress to bring him down, whereas Donald Trump has been dodging accusations of illegal activities since before his election.

I mean, it’s absurd that the president is still in office. He makes Nixon look like a saint! And a genius! He’s certainly been far less tactful than Nixon was in navigating these scandals.

So why hasn’t he been removed? Why is talk of impeachment only beginning to happen almost three years into his (four year long) term? Why is it that many who political scientists, like Duke University Professor, David Rohde, predict that nothing will come of an impeachment trial?

The fault, dear reader, is not in our Cheeto-in-Chief*, but in ourselves.

Now, I’m not at all trying to imply that you are personally responsible for what’s going on. But over the years, we have allowed our political climate to morph into one that allows someone like Trump to thrive.

In one of the articles we read for class this week, Trump might make us miss Watergate, Richard Skinner explains why this is. In 1972, when the Watergate scandal first broke, political parties were relatively weak, and nonpartisan elites, like the media, were strong. Congressional leadership was also pretty weak, so committees took control of most matters. The majority of the public favored centrists: conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans.

Today, quite the opposite is true. Parties are ridiculously strong. News sources are weak. Congressional leadership controls everything that congress does. The American public is incredibly divided.

Ever-growing distrust in the media makes it easy for Americans, especially those who support the president, to dismiss claims made against him. And the extreme emphasis on party loyalty means that it’s unlikely that enough Republicans will be willing to break rank to successfully impeach.

*Obviously he is at fault for a LOT of things, but the reason he hasn’t been ousted from political office has very little to do with him.

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