In today’s reading, Howard Zinn declares that during the 70s, the American public lost trust in the government. While this loss of trust is often depicted in the media as being crazy or radical hippies trying to fight the US government, I think looking at the actions of the US government, particularly the Nixon Administration would make the mistrust of the government and promotion of counterculture during the 70s a logical response to an increasingly unresponsive government.
Indeed, the Watergate Scandal revealed more than just the workings of a man trying to gain information on his opponent. Rather, Watergate revealed a plethora of illegal activities that the Nixon Administration — one that had defined law and order as one of its defining characteristics — had partaken in. Obviously, the hypocrisy of this news angered the American people; however, I believe the specifics of the crimes were more harmful to the relationship between Nixon and the American people. I found the illegal bombing of Cambodia to be a particularly interesting crime that was uncovered in the aftermath of Watergate. Nixon had thought that bombing eastern Cambodia would help the war effort in Vietnam by stopping Viet Kong troops from entering through Cambodia. While this logic may have been sound, Nixon knew that the American public would not approve. Thus, he kept the operation secret. Indeed, the bombing of Cambodia furthered the point that Watergate had suggested. President Nixon — and, therefore in the eyes of the public, the American government — had abused his power and lied to the American people about it in order to maintain favorable reelection conditions.
It is impossible to look at the Nixon Administration — as well as the 70s in general — and not see parallels with today. Indeed, the current President of the United States has been accused of many of the same things that Nixon has (illegal fundraising, campaign fraud, and election tampering). Thus, it is important that we all think about our own emotions right now when trying to understand the culture of the 1970s. Indeed, people then, as they do now, distrusted the government because the President seemed to care more about electoral gain than their job. I think the sign that many Americans no longer trust that the election results will be accurate echoes the feelings of Americans in the 1970s.