Lessons for the DNC from Richard Nixon by David Montgomery

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Richard Nixon could teach today’s Democrats a lesson in putting the country ahead of partisan gain.

The Democratic Party on Friday, April 20 filed a multimillion-dollar federal lawsuit against Trump campaign officials, the Russian government and WikiLeaks alleging a widespread conspiracy to tilt the 2016 election in Donald Trump’s favor.

“The conspiracy constituted an act of previously unimaginable treachery: the campaign of the presidential nominee of a major party in league with a hostile foreign power to bolster its own chance to win the Presidency,” the suit states.

“During the 2016 presidential campaign, Russia launched an all-out assault on our democracy, and it found a willing and active partner in Donald Trump’s campaign,” said DNC Chairman Tom Perez in a statement, calling the alleged collusion “an act of unprecedented treachery.

Not all Democrats agreed. US congresswoman Jackie Speier of San Francisco, who has a law degree, told CNN that “I think this sidebar lawsuit is not in the interest of the American people.” But the DNC does not care.

How anyone could be so willing to destabilize our constitutional system is impossible for me to understand. Even their obvious affliction with Trump Derangement Syndrome and alliances with the radicals that have taken over the Women’s March and BLM is insufficient to explain why a political organization that pretends to care about the future of the country would try so hard to provoke a constitutional crisis. Than again, this might be no more than an effort to start a digging expedition under the guise of “discovery” for anything that could be used in their “get rid of Trump at any cost” campaign.

The partisan myopia afflicting current politics makes it worthwhile repeating how Vice President Richard Nixon dealt with the apparent fraud that handed the 1960 election to John F. Kennedy. The 1960 election turned out to be one of the closest elections in this nation’s history. Nixon always believed that election was stolen – another word for rigged – by ballot stuffing in Cook County and in Texas.

There was a lot of evidence he was right. Earl Mazo, a Washington reporter for the New York Herald Tribune, investigated claims of voter fraud in the 1960 election. He was quoted as saying: There was a cemetery where the names on the tombstones were registered and voted. I remember a house. It was completely gutted. There was nobody there. But there were 56 votes for [John F.] Kennedy in that house. He then went to Lyndon Johnson’s Texas, where he found similar circumstances.

Roger Stone tells the story more dramatically: “Mayor Daley himself gave away the game on election eve when he said, ‘With the Democratic organization and the help of a few close friends,’ the Democrats would prevail on election day. There is sufficient evidence that the ‘few close friends’ mentioned include Chicago crime boss Sam Giancana… The evidence of voter fraud in Texas, where the Kennedy-Johnson ticket carried the state by a scant 50,000 votes was as widespread and odious as that of the daily machine in Chicago.”

The New York Herald Tribune started publishing Mazo’s articles when still-Vice President Nixon intervened and told Mazo that “Our country cannot afford the agony of a constitutional crisis” in the midst of the Cold War. Rather than follow a course that would polarize and weaken the nation, Nixon chose to leave the White House for a time.

A recent article congratulates Nixon for his patriotic act. Ironically, this article was written before election day as a warning to Donald Trump of the bad things that would happen if he were to contest the results as rigged.

“Despite the razor-thin margin, Nixon publicly conceded defeat very early the morning after the election, shortly before Kennedy declared victory. Nixon did not encourage Republicans to regard the country as locked in a permanent civil war, or to treat the incoming president as a usurper. [How different from the Never-Trumpers and impeachment nuts]

To the contrary, on January 6, 1961, he discharged his responsibility as president of the Senate and presided over the congressional tally of the electoral college vote. ‘In our campaigns,’ he told the joint session of Congress, ‘no matter how hard they may be, no matter how close the election may turn out to be, those who lose accept the verdict and support those who win.’ Nixon noted that he was the first vice president since 1860 to declare his opponent the winner (outgoing Vice President John C. Breckenridge performed the same task for Abraham Lincoln). It was a ‘striking example of the stability of our constitutional system.”

For the good of the country, Nixon decided to accept the verdict and move on.

And that’s the difference. The threat to our democracy is not the thought, the idea or the charge that an election was stolen or rigged or unfair. It has happened. The threat to our democracy is the refusal to accept the verdict of the election.

Nixon was advised in 1960 to contest the election. He decided not to do so for the good of the country. The DNC could learn a great deal from a politician they loathe, but who showed more character and love of country than any of them are demonstrating today.

David Montgomery is retired from a career of teaching, government service and consulting, during which he became internationally recognized as an expert on energy, environmental and climate policy.  He has a PhD in economics from Harvard University and also studied economics at Cambridge University and theology at the Catholic University of America,   David and his wife Esther live in St Michaels, and he now spends his time in front of the computer writing about economic, political and religious topics and the rest of the day outdoors engaged in politically incorrect activities.

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Letters to Editor

  1. Patrick Byrne says:

    Well written and perfect for the times.

  2. Deirdre LaMotte says:

    What some people, as this author, discovered long ago is that delusion is preferable to the real world. They not only accept the lies, they demand a GOP that supports their wordview and facts are irreverent. These poor souls support an unhinged man that creates his own reality, and now these people are the cult that supports him.

    Not to worry, Trump and his sad supporters are a wonderful elixir for all Democratic candidates.

  3. Steve Payne says:
  4. Tom Steele says:

    Welcome to Bizarro World, where it’s the Democrats provoking a constitutional crisis and not the man in the Oval Office whose campaign couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a Russian enabler.

  5. James Nick says:

    This is rich. Here’s a radical, far-right trump apologist attempting to lecture Democrats on how they should put country ahead of partisan gain. In the process Mr Montgomery aims to elevate Richard Nixon, of all people, to the rank of sainted patriot. An individual of such Machiavellian sliminess and unhinged paranoia that his enemies list included just about everyone in the Washington DC phone book and who went so far off the rails that close aides were prepared to order the Joint Chiefs of Staff to ignore him.

    In looking for a patriotic model to make his point, Mr Montgomery didn’t need to go any farther back than Al Gore in the aftermath of the 2000 election. That election was stolen in plain sight aided and abetted by the Republican Florida Secretary of State, the Republican legislature and courts, and the US Supreme Court. All partisans acting for naked partisan gain. Mr Gore, more principled than one of Nixon’s fingernail clippings, also stood down and conceded the election to Bush for the good of the country despite having won the popular vote.

    If Nixon offers any model for today, it’s that resignation and a pardon by President Pence (shudder the thought) is a way out for the current occupant of the White House before the law catches up with him.

    Trump Derangement Syndrome? Not quite. Unlike the baseless and racist Obama Derangement Syndrome still exhibited with enthusiastic zeal by Republicans, trump earns every bit of the contempt directed his way. Every day we watch a crime family violate the emoluments clause of the constitution with their brazen self-dealing and money laundering, we hear a president regularly attack the checks and balances provided for in the First Amendment by labeling the press “an enemy of the state”, we see a president that refuses to acknowledge proven foreign interference in our elections and take steps to stop it from happening again, we try to come to grips with an unprecedented investigation into collusion with a hostile enemy state that has led to close presidential advisors and associates being criminally indicted, and we are treated to lurid stories about numerous sexcapades and cover-ups by trump’s lawyers. Not to mention the baseline behavior of endless lying, juvenile taunts, petty ad hominem attacks, insufferable narcissism, unfiltered misogyny and racism, and vengeance directed at his political opponents heretofore only seen in third world countries.

    Mr Montgomery expresses bewildered as to how anyone could be so willing to destabilize our constitutional system. That is the very question asked virtually every day by everyone watching in horror while trump and his swamp creatures run roughshod through our constitution and our democratic institutions and traditions.

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