What Do the Nixon and Trump Eras Have in Common?

Trump and Nixon Thumbs-up (NBC Los Angeles)

Living in a Democratic Republic can be scary. The virtues of a democracy are many – freedoms, the free elections – to name a few. But what happens when the system breaks and the electorate chooses a bombastic nut to lead? Nobody ever thinks about that. But it happens; it happened in the United States. And here we are, licking our wounds and trying to move forward. But you cannot have a destructive force occupying a powerful position for four years and not have some fallout when he gets voted the hell out!

A few days ago, I made the point that pursuing sanctions through a Senate trial post impeachment was a bad idea. I still hold that opinion. Donald J. Trump is gone. His name placard has been tossed in the trash. His parking spot has a new owner. The White House bed sheets have been washed and the floors cleaned. The Oval Office has been sanitized. Trump is gone!

I admit I am speaking short-term here, but hear me out, please. The most that can be gained from a Senate trial is blocking Trump’s future political plans. And I admit, that is a huge deal if it works. But why not let things simmer down? Allow public opinion to evolve; give the conservative extremists that have not broken any laws a way out without them turning back to their conspiracies and paranoia. In short, lets allow the country to heal. I think the gains from doing so will overshadow anything that might be gained from carrying out a trial where Trump will undoubtedly be acquitted anyway. Once again, this is a short-term remedy. But I think it’s the right thing to do right now.  

However, if we want to exact a pound of flesh and give insurrectionists and seditionists a lesson in consequences, here’s what I propose. Take a head count the number of politicians and bureaucrats who still hold public seats who are confirmed to have participated in insurrection and sedition. We could even count those who actively supported Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud and rigging. Then Friday morning, give them all their pink slips and dismiss them all without further argument. Everyone knows who they are. And any and all individuals who can be proven to have broken laws need to be charged. Remember all those rants from the Republicans not so long ago about law and order? It’s time to pay the piper.

When Richard Nixon was found to have committed high crimes and misdemeanors back in 1974, his support base crumbled in a relatively short time. His ratings went from over 50 percent to down around 20 percent almost overnight. His political supporters and allies stopped singing his praises; Nixon became an island. He could see the writing on the wall; he knew his only recourse was to resign and hope for a pardon. He got his pardon from Gerald Ford. Nixon flew off into the sunset and soon became nothing more than a bad memory.

Ford’s pardon of Nixon arguably cost him the 1976 presidential election; he had to have known that would be the outcome when he did it. The question was later put to Ford why he pardoned Nixon. Ford’s answer was simple; a long, drawn-out trial would only have further polarized the public. I think Gerald Ford knew something about the ‘greater good.’ Pardoning Trump is absolutely not the right thing to do, but allowing the U.S. public psyche to heal and move on is the right thing to do.