I started becoming interested in politics during high school — current, historical, and theoretical issues alike.
With the black-and-white thinking of a teenager, it always felt like the moral issues, (e.g. civil rights, feminism) were dealt with long before I was born and I would never get the chance to be persecuted for my beliefs, etc.
Of course, as I got older I began to understand that most of the issues that I thought had been resolved (racism, sexism, etc.) were still thriving, just in newly evolved ways, and that some movements for equality (LGBTQ) were still in relatively early stages. Still, I felt like we were past needing any sort of civil unrest to spur actionable change. I thought the world was (mostly) rational.
In 2017, talk show host John Oliver began referring to the Mueller probe/Russian election interference as “Stupid Watergate.” As you’d expect of someone my age, most of what I knew about the Watergate scandal was Nixon’s “I’m not a crook” tagline, and that adding “-gate” to anything indicated some sort of criminality.
I asked my mom if she remembered anything about Nixon’s impeachment, but she said not much. She had been very young at the time and, until about three years ago, paid no attention to politics regardless. So I decided to read “All the President’s Men” by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the Washington Post reporters who originally broke the Watergate story.
I am only writing about this to give some context for my upcoming opinions in regard to Trump’s looming impeachment. I really wanted to understand the standard by which “political scandal” had hitherto been measured (when I looked up “-gate scandals” on Wikipedia, there’s about 200 listed) before coming out and saying that the world was going crazy.
But, that’s exactly the conclusion I have come to. Oh my God: we are living in a Dali painting.
There is a lot that is similar between the Nixon and Trump Administrations’ extracurriculars, but in comparison between the two, the Watergate scandal was beautifully done and tied up neatly with a bow. The system worked. Politicians put country over partisanship.
The fact is that things seem absurd and chaotic to many of us right now... because they actually are. It’s not just skewed perception for lack of historical context. The word “unprecedented” has lost a lot of its oomph in the past few years, but that’s the most apt descriptor that we have.
Really, in the end, I got exactly what I was hoping for when I was a teenager: a politically charged atmosphere and the opportunity to choose the right side of history. But man, if I could take it back — if I could go back to Monicagate being the biggest presidential scandal anyone could dig up — I definitely would.
North Pacific County journalist Allie Bair writes a monthly column for the Chinook Observer from a younger person’s perspective.