If the highest official of the land will be allowed to eavesdrop on his enemies then the nation ceases to be a bastion for democracy. Nixon and his group were using tactics similar to what was used in communist countries and other nations where tyrants rule. If Nixon was not forced out of office, America would never be the same. David Simon was able to put it succinctly when he wrote.
“The Watergate scandal that toppled the Nixon Presidency involved every type of political deviance” these included the following: 1. excessive secrecy; 2. lying; 3. dirty campaign tricks; 4. political repression; and 5. violation of civil rights (see Friedman and Levantrosser, p. 5). All these gets translated to questionable ethical conduct such as bribery, perjury, obstruction of justice, forgery, burglary, and possible income tax code violations. Supporters of Nixon may justify their actions explaining that they are simply helping the president effectively manage the affairs of the nation. But the tactics they used could be easily used against anyone and this is the beginning of most tyrannical rule.
It always started with good intentions until corruption sets in and radically transforms their government. This should not be allowed to happen to the U. S. Least Damaging Considering only politics, Bill Clinton’s actions is least damaging to the country as a whole. There was no political blunder that would have compromised national security. There were no serious violations of human rights. The presidency could still do his job and that is the most important consideration of the public. It can be argued that in the case of Clinton, the more appropriate action would have been censorship and not impeachment.
But his opponents were forced to impeach him because he lied under oath and it was considered as an impeachable offense. The only problem here is that Clinton lied not about issues of national interests but he lied regarding personal matters and in the end this allowed him a narrow escape. The second least damaging would be the case of Andrew Johnson. This is due to the fact that Johnson did not do anything that would have seriously undermined the democratic process of this country. His actions were simply based on the authority vested upon his as President.
It was his opponents who interpreted his actions as going above and beyond what was mandated by law. But a careful analysis of the events that transpired in the years following the Civil War reveal no concrete evidence that Johnson did something terribly wrong that will warrant his removal from office. Recent Developments As mentioned earlier a complex system of “checks and balances” was instituted upon the founding of this nation. This system was in place to act as a deterrent in the formation of a super body or the consolidation of power by one person that would lead to despotism.
A major component of this system is the judiciary which serves as a branch of government that acts as a watchdog and finding out if laws were broken. The judiciary system in itself also has a system of “checks and balances” that forces it to abide by rules and regulations that will in turn assure fairness in the event of trials and prosecution. This is the reason that the U. S. criminal justice system is based on an adversary system in which the accuser is required to prove beyond reasonable doubt to a judge or jury that the accused is guilty of a specific crime (Wrobleski & Hess, 2006, p.454).
It is very difficult for an influential person or any powerful political figure to haul an opponent in court and use the court to punish his opponent for a crime he did not commit. This is a mark of a nation that is experiencing democracy and freedom. But after September 11, 2001 things began to change for the worse.
The US government and specifically the Presidency is pressured to bring the terrorist perpetrators to justice. Knowing fully well that these enemies of the State are well aware of the “adversary” system of U. S. criminal justice systems, President George Bush signed into the law the creation of special military tribunals to try foreigners suspected to be terrorists. “According to the order, such military commissions are justified by the nature of international terrorism and by the impracticability of applying principles of law and rules of evidence generally recognized in trials” (Aiken & Haldane, 2004, p 202). It seems now that the President is gaining more power and he is using it to combat terrorism. Conclusion The U. S. criminal justice system is composed of three branches: The Executive; Legislative; and Judiciary.
All three are like pillars in a building that by removing one risks the integrity of the structure. It was discussed a while ago, the importance of having these built in mechanisms to prevent a tyrant from taking over the country. As a result to the commitment to these ideals there are already three incumbent presidents that underwent an impeachment trial. None of the three were forced out of office by the U. S. Congress except one, Richard Nixon, who stepped down from the office of the President. The most serious and damaging of all issues was the one that involved Richard Nixon.
This was followed by Clinton’s embarrassing confession that he had inappropriate sexual relations with an intern. And the least damaging is that of Andrew Johnson because his impeachment was mostly due to politics and not due to some certain scandals or criminal acts.
Aiken, W. & J. Haldane. Philosophy and Its Public Role. VA: Imprint Academic, 2004. Cole, G. & C. Smith. Criminal Justice in America. CA: Thomson Wadsworth, 2005. Friedman, L. & W. Levantrosser. Watergate and Afterward: The Legacy of Richard M. Nixon. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992.