This has been a brutal weekend for millions of Americans who love their country. We long for a political campaign robust but respectful, as two good-hearted citizens, leaders of their party, debate noble and complex ideas about the betterment of our nation and the preserving of its cherished ideals. It seems quite clear now that Trump will lose this election, probably resoundingly. And perhaps we should feel relief. But how sad that this endless contest seemed inexorably destined to end up in such a tawdry spectacle.
Back in 1974, the Watergate scandal was winding down to its inevitable blowup. Republican Caldwell Baker of Idaho had to vote on the impeachment charges, and with a grave face he voted yes, then sadly added: “But there will be no joy in it for me.” Peter Rodino, committee chair (and leading Democrat), tallied up the necessary twenty-seven votes. Then, as reporters Woodward and Bernstein tell it, “The talk stopped. Rodino’s body began to shake. Then his small hands clutched his arms, and tears streamed down his face. Weeping quietly, he left the room, went to a washroom and then to the counsel’s office, where he called his wife at home. ‘I pray that we did the right thing,’ he said to her. ‘I hoped it didn’t have to be this way.’”
Here’s my own teary testimonial about the end of that nightmare. I was just 19, a PUC sophomore, and had yet to cast my first vote. I guess I leaned away from Nixon’s party, perhaps as a backlash against my conservative parents and because it seemed like the GOP back then was a bit prone to mingling church and state. But on August 9, as the resigning President made his farewell speech and then boarded the green helicopter with his wife Pat, I was sitting on a bed at my grandma’s house watching a little black-and-white TV. And I still vividly recall having tears stream down my cheeks, feeling so sad for America. We bounce back, we always do and always will, but dear God, it sure ought to be so much more noble than this.