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It’s the 50th Anniversary of the Watergate Break-In And What Have We Learned?

By Lori Perkins

I never thought this would be such a minor event, as Watergate defined my childhood/early adolescence and the Washington Post’s Woodward and Bernstein’s determined coverage of the Nixon Administration’s corruption was what lead me to become a journalist.

Fifty years after the Watergate break-in, I never thought I’d be writing that nothing has changed; or that another Republican president’s corruption was even worse than Nixon’s.

I don’t even know if the next generation is even watching these Jan. 6th hearings as they unfold. It’s powerful, heart-breaking, breath-taking, and even made-for-TV, and yet the only non-politicians and pundits I hear talking about it are people my age or older –Colbert, Dan Rather, Patricia Arquette, John Cusack, Bette Midler. Even though 20 million people watched the first Jan. 6th hearing, I am sure the numbers were lower for yesterday’s hearing which was truly mind-blowing with the Republican confession of murderous plots on Mike Pence and admittance of premeditated illegal activity. Someone wrote that politics is all about removing your perceived enemies (Et tu, Brutus?), but never have we ever seen it live on TV before.

I thought that after Watergate, we had addressed political corruption and were beyond this kind of crazy, deadly political turmoil, but I now fear that we’ve only just begun. Maybe it was always like this and I couldn’t see it or maybe “it’s same as it ever was.” I now see Watergate as part of cycle – the semi-centennial clean up of corruption – as opposed to the history-changing experience I thought it was.

I only hope that future generations – and historians – see it that way, and, after this round of exposing political corruption, instill safeguards that can’t be stripped away or eluded as easily as the ones from the 1970’s. I also realize that some group has to be always vigilant, and we don’t even have the beginnings of a process for that. I can only hope that Jan. 6th is as pivotal to Gen Z as it was for my generation, but that learn from our mistakes.


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