President Richard Nixon and themes that defined his Presidency
Richard Nixon previously served as a United States Representative and the U.S. Senator from California. He was elected as the 37th President of the United States, where he served from1969-1974. Nixon won against Vice President Hubert Humphrey, whom he beat by less than 500,000 votes. This is because the third-party candidate George Wallace had a robust support system rallied around him during the general election. President Nixon's campaign focused on the "silent majority" of the working and middle-class Americans. He appealed to the citizens' desire for peace after years of anti-war and civil rights protests. During his presidency, he oversaw dramatic changes in the country as he advocated for a better government. In this regard, the analysis of issues the defined his presidency will be critical.
President Nixon was identified as an individual whose life revolved around politics. He was a seasoned politician who was well versed in United States politics. Nixon served as the vice president to Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower from 1952-1960. Nonetheless, he lost his first chance at winning the presidency in 1960 to John F. Kennedy. Eight years later, President Nixon won, although the Democratic Party controlled both houses of Congress. However, President Nixon was not enthusiastic about the Democratic social strategies he chose to focus on the U.S. foreign policy. Thus, the first objective was to bring "peace with honor" after the prolonged war in Vietnam.
Themes that defined President Nixon's Term
First, the drug menace in the United States was a significant issue during Nixon's presidency. The passage of the Harrison Act in 1914 allowed the executive branch to officially implement the national drug-control policy (Bertram, Blachman, Sharpe & Andreas, 1996). President Nixon made the war on drugs a central theme during his presidency. The national policy concern and the drug war has since become a primary interest in modern politics. President Nixon referred to drug abuse as a "national threat." In 1969 citing the increase in drug-related juvenile detentions and street crime in 1960-1967, Nixon called for national anti-drug policy at the state and federal levels.
Drugs during the 1960s symbolized youth rebellion, political disagreements, and social disorder. In this regard, he declared war on drugs in June 1971, which further increased the federal drug control organizations' size and influence. Also, the declaration facilitated the implementation of measures such as mandatory sentencing and the no-knock permits. According to Bertram (1996), President Nixon relied on the power of public persuasion and control of the federal administration to expand the fight against drugs. The United States began convincing Mexico, Turkey, and Southeast Asia's Golden Triangle to eliminate their opium plants (Chepesiuk & Arango, 1999). In 1973, President Nixon created the Drug Enforcement Administration to facilitate the efforts of other agencies. Over the years, President Nixon's actions in the war on drugs provided a stepping stone for different administrations.
Second, during the Presidential campaign, Nixon assured his supporters that he would diligently handle the Vietnam crisis. The plan was to enforce a Vietnamization plan that entailed replacing over 5000,000 American soldiers on the ground with South Vietnamese soldiers. Additionally, the United States moved the war into Cambodia, which served as a channel for Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers. President Nixon's administration managed to negotiate a truce in Vietnam in 1973 but gained several compromises. The Americans lost since North Vietnamese conquered the southern capital and achieved their objective of uniting Vietnam under the communist government.
Next, the Watergate scandal significantly affected Nixon's presidential tenure. He was the first president to resign due to a scandal that affected his reputation and image. Political scandals in the United States have always been short-term cases; however, the Watergate scandal was different (Kurland, 1974). A group of individuals linked to the President was caught attempting to place listening devices in the Democratic National Committee office in Washington's Watergate building. The House Judiciary Committee suggested that the House of Representatives impeach the President for abuse of power and obstruction of justice. President Nixon chose to resign in 1974 rather than face impeachment.
Finally, foreign policy was another theme that characterized President Nixon's administration. Although the Vietnam War concerns failed, President Richard Nixon achieved several significant foreign policy victories during his presidential term. For instance, he re-established American diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China. This is because the United States failed to recognize them after their communist revolution in 1949. Based on Swanson (2004), the President and the first lady took a two-week public-relations trip to China to enforce the new agreements. Besides, he also took a USSR trip and, alongside the Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev, agreed to a truce. He also signed the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, which aimed at reducing the number of nuclear missiles in the armoury. Hence, before his resignation, he had a significant influence on the nation's diplomatic issues.
In conclusion, President Nixon was an influential leader who used the opportunity to understand the office's demands. As a seasoned politician, he used his expertise to advocate for issues that would promote the nations' progress. In this regard, the drug menace, Vietnam War, Watergate scandal, and foreign policies characterize his presidency. Despite his disgraceful exit from office, his diplomatic approach to various issues has been adopted in modern-day politics.
Bertram, E., Blachman, M., Sharpe, K., & Andreas, P. (1996). Drug war politics: The price of denial. Univ of California Press.
Chepesiuk, R., & Arango, A. P. (1999). The war on drugs: an international encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO.
Kurland, P. B. (1974). Watergate, Impeachment, and the Constitution. Mississippi Law Journal, 45, 531.
Swanson, K. (2004). Secrets, Schemes, and Strategies: Nixon Opens Relations with Communist China. Historical Perspectives: Santa Clara University Undergraduate Journal of History, Series II, 9(1), 12.