Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Congress Paralyzed – Dump Nixon

First Published: The Call, April 1974.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The long stream of evidence against Richard Nixon continued to pour in through March, and even though some politicians were talking more loudly about ousting Nixon, the Congress itself appears paralyzed, unable to act decisively on the question of impeachment.

The paralysis of the Congress demonstrates more concretely than ever the need to build the mass people’s movement to dump Nixon. As demonstrators gathered in New York, Chicago, Tampa, and other cities last month in opposition to Nixon’s policies, the question that came to, the fore was whether or not the Congress was going to act, or merely use the impeachment question for their own immediate political needs while the country suffers the effects of the corruption-ridden administration?

The past month has shown that the Congress is more concerned with political expediency and making the capitalist system look pretty in the eyes of the world than in purging the criminals in the Nixon regime. The Congress, at this point, simply is not ready to impeach Nixon, despite his present weakness, and despite his scores of Congressional enemies.


While Senators like conservative James Buckley, the New York Republican, call for Nixon’s resignation, charging him with “losing the people’s faith and eroding the government’s credibility”–those who actually wield the mechanical power to impeach Nixon remain inactive. Democrat Peter Rodino’s Judiciary Committee haggled with Nixon over the possession of certain tapes and documents, but when Nixon refused to hand them over, the Committee backed off saying “We may have to pursue other channels to get the information we need.” Yet this is the committee assigned by Congress to make the “impeachment inquiry” and to present, as soon as possible, an opinion on whether or not Nixon should be impeached!

The vague plans laid out this far by Rodino and the Judiciary Committee indicate that even if everything goes according to “timetable,” an impeachment trial in the U.S; Senate could not possibly begin before September.

Using this stall, the Congress will wait to see what new scandals break, what mass, organized sentiment is forcing upon them, and so forth, before they make any decision. Senator Buckley, a long-time Nixon backer, in the speech urging Nixon to resign, said that “The country, the government, and the Presidency” were being weakened with each day Nixon remained in office. Buckley represents what is now a large minority position–that Nixon’s resignation is the best vehicle to shoring up the system. But for the most part, the Congress is still hoping that impeachment or resignation can be averted by stalling, and “riding out the storm.” Many Democrats are even hoping to strengthen themselves by keeping Nixon in office and running the November elections on an anti-Nixon platform, picturing themselves as the “preservers of democracy.” This is the essence of the Judiciary Committee’s inaction, and it dictates broader, more organized actions than ever to keep the storm swelling and to really dump Nixon.

Nixon’s weakness was accentuated by the indictment of seven of his top advisors in February, including former attorney general, John Mitchell. All seven were charged with covering up the facts of Watergate. More indictments were handed down to Nixon men in the Ellsberg break-in case. And. Wilbur Mills, who may hold the biggest club yet is Chairman of the Committee investigating Nixon’s taxes said in March that “If Watergate brought pressure on Nixon to resign, our report will bring about a great deal more pressure. I don’t think he will be able to withstand it.”

Stumbling, faltering, and lying through his March news conferences, Nixon was forced to make admissions about his role in the whole matter that he had previously denied. He put his controversial talk with John Dean and H. P. Haldeman last year in a new light by admitting that he was told that “hush money” had been paid out, and that he considered further illegal payments as one of the “options” open to him in dealing with Watergate. Realizing how damaging this admission may have been, Nixon tried to cover himself by saying “I know what I meant,” and “What I should have said was...” But he was too deeply in to back himself out.

There was no shortage of political figures seeking to make hay out of Nixon’s further weakened position. While little concrete action was taking place on the impeachment question in Congress, anti-Nixon sentiment among the people was being channeled to promote the political futures of many democrats and republicans.

Gerald Ford’s old district in Michigan, Republican for thirty years, fell to a Democrat in a special election. Watergate and impeachment were the main issues. Following this example, Tom Luken, an Ohio Congressional candidate, made Watergate an issue although he had previously steered clear of it. He won handily, prompting more Democratic office-seekers to follow in his path. As a direct consequence of these elections, some Republican stalwarts like Buckley left the fold trying to protect their offices from I’m me election defeats. In a statement Governor Sargant, of Massachusetts, announced that in his opinion the Republican Party would be far better off with Gerald Ford in office.

While Nixon appeared to be growing weaker and further isolated, he capitalized on Congressional paralysis to launch something of a counter-attack on the impeachment forces. Speaking to Chicago businessmen on March 15, Nixon stated, “I will not further weaken the office of the President.” As elaborated later, this meant that Nixon will not give over any now evidence to the Judiciary Committee, because in his opinion he has already given so much that it would be “unreasonable” to ask for any more. He stated in no uncertain terms that he felt the Watergate investigation should be “wrapped up” and arrogantly announced his refusal to cooperate any further.

While Congress took no steps to deal with Nixon’s offensive, the American people were more convinced than ever of Nixon’s guilt. The latest polls showed a mere 23 percent of the people approved of Nixon’s policies, and 60 percent favored impeachment. The politicians who have spoken out have only done so because of the tremendous mass sentiment to dump Nixon. This sentiment must be developed still further, and organized so that the pressure remains on the Congress to act.

The Dump Nixon coalitions which have grown up across the country are a healthy step in this direction. Successful demonstrations were held earlier this year, and several more are planned for April 27. In many cities May Day, historically a militant working class holiday will focus on the drive to dump Nixon and stop the attacks he has unleashed on the masses of people.

The Dump Nixon movement aims itself both at the immediate task of dumping Nixon, and the more general task of organizing the people to fight the rising fascist tide and the assault on people’s living standards.

Several organizations which pretend to be “revolutionary” like the Communist Party (CPUSA) have tried to use Watergate as a way of prettifying the system, provided their desired modifications are made.

In a recent editorial in the Daily World, the Communist Party put forward its program as calling for the “ouster of the entire White House gang, broad development of independent action outside monopoly’s two-party system, and the holding of new elections. This is the way to broader democracy and more responsive government.”

This opportunist program poses the holding of an election and the development of more responsive politicians as a solution to the current political crisis. In essence, the same program Nixon’s Congressional opponents put forward. It is another way of saying, “Make the system work.”

But the system does not and cannot work. It will not even impeach the most widely exposed criminal of our day, unless the people force it to. The CPUSA with its plans for “responsive government” and “broad democracy” fails to take into account the system of imperialist robbery which the U.S. ruling class bases its power on. This is why the Dump Nixon movement cannot be based solely on the issues of the Watergate affair, or on electing new politicians, but must have a firm base in opposition to Nixon’s policies of aggression around the world, strike-breaking, wage-freezing, and attacks on democratic rights. It is these issues which can really be used to push the people’s movement forward, and which, if well organized, can have far more success in actually dumping Nixon than any Congressional committee.