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Nixon and Watergate Scandal

What were the political effects of the Watergate scandal?

What were the long-range effects of Nixon's foreign policy?

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The end of the Watergate Scandal immediately led to campaign finance reform legislation and other good government measures. But at the same time, the scandal fed into a growing disillusionment and lack of faith in government that exists to this day.

Watergate scandal did not end with the resignation of President Nixon and the imprisonment of some of his aides. The effect on the upcoming Senate election and House race only three months later, was enormous. Voters, disgusted by Nixon's actions, became thoroughly disillusioned with the Republican Party. In that election, the Democrats gained five seats in the Senate and a remarkable forty-nine in the House.

The Watergate Scandal also indirectly caused many changes in campaign financing. The scandal became a driving factor in amending the Freedom of Information Act in 1976, as well as laws requiring new financial disclosures by key government officials.

While not legally required, other types of personal disclosure, such as releasing recent income tax forms, became expected. Presidents since Franklin D. Roosevelt had recorded many of their conversations, but after Watergate this practice purportedly ended.

Since Nixon and many senior officials involved in Watergate were lawyers, the scandal severely tarnished the public image of the legal profession. In order to defuse public demand for direct federal regulation of lawyers (as opposed to leaving it in the hands of state bar associations or courts), the American Bar Association (ABA) launched two major reforms. First, the ABA decided that its existing Model Code of Professional Responsibility (promulgated 1969) was a failure and replaced it with the Model Rules of Professional Conduct in 1983. The MRPC has been adopted in part or in whole by 44 states. Its preamble contains an emphatic reminder to young lawyers that the legal profession can remain self-governing only if lawyers behave properly. Second, the ABA promulgated a requirement that law students at ABA-approved law schools take a course in professional responsibility (which means they must study the MRPC). The requirement remains in effect.

The Watergate scandal left such an impression on the national and international consciousness that many scandals since then have been labeled with the suffix "-gate".

According to Thomas J. Johnson, professor of journalism at Southern Illinois University, "During Nixon's final days, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger boldly predicted ...

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The political effects of the Watergate Scandal.