If you had voted for Nixon, then found out about the Watergate scandal, would it have affected your perception of government power?
This was a mess in every way, and the disillusionment was much more pervasive than just the power of government. At its core, this was a human failing which used the government to achieve its ends. Greed, paranoia as mentioned above, arrogance, and even stupidity were the cause of the abuse of power scandal. Disappointments are more common than any of us would like, I'm sure, especially in the realm of government--the entity which is supposed to represent the best of who we can be.
Well, I certainly hope so. I had the privilege to campaign for George McGovern during the 1972 campaign, and though I approved heartily of the Democratic candidate, it was obvious to me that Nixon's corrupt behavior was a terrible thing for American politics. Some of my relatives voted for Nixon, and they were not blind to his corrupt ways. In later years, they scolded themselves for making such a poor choice.
Like the previous responder, I would also be disappointed but I certainly would not have been incredibly surprised. I also live in Illinois, which is a very corrupt state. Hopefully, things will be changing soon with the coming elections!
As other editors state, in comparison to other misdemeanours, the Watergate scandal was pretty mild compared to other presidential abuses of power. Of course I would have been disappointed, but because I am generally quite cynical when it comes to politics I would not have necessarily been surprised!
If I had been old enough to vote when Watergate occurred, I would have been concerned about abuse of power whether or not I had voted for Nixon. Every American who cherishes liberty and the idea that our government is supposed to be in service for the people--not the other way around--should be troubled by Watergate and similar scandals. However, as previous posts have mentioned, we have endured quite a few scandals in our nation's brief history; so one would be naive to think that some sort of abuse of governmental power doesn't occur in every administration. It might not reach to the President each time, but Congress has certainly been embroiled in scandals for decades.
After what some past presidents had already done (check out the true facts on Lincoln and Lyndon B. Johnson, for just a couple), the Watergate Scandal was clearly blown out of proportion. After losing to John F. Kennedy when his popularity points dropped drastically after the first television debates in 1960, Nixon seemed to become rather paranoid. But, because there was great enmity between him and the media, journalists were not too kind to him. Nevertheless, Nixon had a very successful first term, and even in his second term, he retained the respect of many, many foreign nations.
Watergate is head and shoulders above many of the other scandals of government. If you look at Iran-Contra, or the Lewinsky scandal, or even Teapot Dome or Credit Mobilier scandals of earlier years, they had financial or personal motivations and failings, where Watergate involved a systematic abuse of government power, as part of a much larger pattern of action by Nixon's administration.
Not only would the scandal have deeply disappointed me if I had voted for Nixon (I was too young to vote then), but it would have disillusioned me in government period. Indeed, that is exactly what happened for many Americans, and the blind faith era of belief in our leadership seemed to have permanently ended at that point.
I think a lot of people who voted for George W (and even Obama, now) have asked a similar question concerning the ongoing war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The biggest difference here is that Watergate was such a surprise and the war -of course- wasn't.
I think every election tends to hype-up big issues and promises are made that often end up in dissappointment for those voters who possibly determine their votes on one or two 'deal-breaker' issues. Unfortunately, the past several decades of politics have probably jaded my generation into more of an attitude of distrust than trust. I'm not sure Watergate is even the spark here - but rather an ongoing system of personal agendas interfering with the greater good.
The whole Richard Nixon and Watergate thing had me thinking in two different ways. First, what happened with Watergate made me very skeptical of the government, not just of government power. How can government be trusted after what happened with Watergate. But then again, the system seemed to work--Nixon and his men were discovered and Nixon was forced to resign and many of his people went to jail.
In my opinion, my perception of government power would have been affected whether or not I had voted for Nixon.
However, if I had voted for Nixon, I probably would have done so because I did not like the hippies and the urban unrest and such. I might have voted for him because I approved of his initiatives towards China. I do not think that a vote for him would be the same as a vote for government abuse of power.
So I might have been angry at the Democrats for persecuting Nixon, but I think that I would have been more skeptical of government power because of what Nixon had done. I would probably have been very angry because a person I trusted had abused his power in this way and I might think we should not trust anyone any more.