I am not an historian or political scientist, but I’ve heard the sentiment often expressed that the Watergate scandal did a lot of damage to American’s faith in government that stretches even to today. Of course there has always been conservatives who want small and limited government, and progressives who want a stronger, more involved government, but I’m not sure if old-style conservatism had as much to do with government distrust as it does today.
Is it possible that things like the Tea Party are long-brewing ramifications of Watergate?
How different would our country be if we had never learned about Watergate, Nixon had won re-election (as I believe he was predicted to do), and the country went on from there?
Would we be a more progressive country? Would there be as much anti-government sentiment as exists today?
If so, or for any other reasons, would America be better off if we had just never learned about the wire-tapping Nixon had done, and why?
(Also, if I am wrong about distrust in or apathy towards the government increasing after Watergate, or anything like that, please feel free to correct my assumptions)
I believe that if we had never learned about Watergate, there wouldn’t be as much distrust and anti-government sentiment as there is today. I think our political map would look a lot different too, and we wouldn’t have nearly the level of safe red states or safe blue states like we do now. Back in Nixon’s day and earlier, there really weren’t such a thing as safe red or safe blue states I don’t think, but after that, the states began shifting allegiences to one party or another, and now it’s almost unthinkable that we could have an election where 90% or more of the electoral college goes to one candidate or another. Yes I know Reagan won huge landslides in the electoral college, but I don’t think it had really brewed long enough by then to fully set in.
My idea is that since government distrust started spreading during Watergate, local governments of certain states began digging in their heels and throwing their weight behind one political party or the other, and both political parties started to having to pander to the whole “government is a big problem in our country and needs to be reduced as much as possible.”