“I am not a crook.”
Those were the infamous words of Richard Milhous Nixon, the 37th president of the United States. The question is: Was he the most influential? Or was he the most corrupt? I believe that he was one of the most influential presidents of the United States. And here‘s why: Richard Nixon was able to solve many problems involving inequality. In 1972, he put Title IX into the education amendment and changed history. Title IX is a federal law that states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Nixon signed a law that required equal funding to be given to both girl’s and boy’s teams. According to The New York Times, the number of women playing sports in high school and college before Title IX was 310,000. Slowly but surely, in about 20 years, the number of girls participating in high school sports soared by nearly 8 times. Title IX was not only a motivation for girls to play sports but also a big step for the growing feminist movements that arose in this time period. Although many have the misconception and believe Nixon to be a racist, he made a great contribution to civil rights by desegregating the public schools. Nixon was able to achieve peaceful desegregation in seven southern schools. In 1968, 68% of black children in the South were attending all-black schools. By 1974, that number had fallen to 8%.
Nixon also abolished voter discriminatory tests that basically didn’t allow blacks to vote. Most blacks at the time were illiterate. Discriminatory tests that assessed reading were used to target the blacks and to prevent them from voting. Not only did Nixon make great progress on equality, he made huge progress in saving the environment. In December 1970, President Nixon founded the EPA, short for the Environmental Protection Agency, which was created for the prime purpose of protecting human health and the environment by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress. Basically, if this organization wasn’t created, America would be looking a lot like China today. However, what really increased his popularity was his accomplishments in foreign policy.
The first was Nixon’s Vietnamization strategy. When he took office in 1969, the US had been fighting in the Vietnamese War for over 4 years. The war was also getting unpopular in the US due to the amount of casualties the US was facing. There were protests all over the US to stop the US involvement in the war. Nixon’s Vietnamization plan was to gradually withdraw from Vietnam while also training the South Vietnamese army so that it could fight for itself. Vietnamization was one of many foreign policies that Nixon put into play. Another big accomplishment in foreign policy would have to be his trip to China. Nixon’s negotiations with China began in April 1971 when the American ping-pong received a surprise invitation to visit China. They became the first Americans to be allowed into communist mainland China since the Chinese Civil War of 1949. This became known as the Ping Pong Diplomacy and was a great diplomatic achievement for the American public accepted opening up relations and it lifted a 20-year trade embargo. Nixon was the first US president to visit China and by doing so, he reopened relations with China. He also put China back in the United Nations which helped it grow economically and reduce tensions from the cold war. In addition after many years of hostility and tension between the Soviet Union and the United States, Nixon made a policy of detente that focused on peaceful negotiations and weapon limitations. Nixon’s created the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty where he uses his strategy of “linkage” to benefit both the US and the Soviet Union. Nixon was successful at limiting the production of missiles and was able to open up foreign relations with a country that had been an enemy since 1945. Thus, the way Nixon handled foreign policy has made him a role model for later presidents like Gerald Ford. Nixon was able to ease tension and lower global tension possibly preventing the outbreak of World War 3.
Although Nixon tried to solve many problems in the American society and made huge strides to save our environment, his efforts went down the drain on June 17, 1972. Several burglars were found inside the building of the Democratic National Committee. Turns out, they were connected to President Richard Nixon. They broke in to wiretap phones and to steal confidential Documents. After the incident, Nixon paid burglars to keep quiet about his involvement, tried to destroy evidence, and fired anyone who was against him. When the truth came out, Nixon resigned on August 8th, 1974. Gerald Ford took over the next morning.
So how are Nixon’s contributions affecting our society today? He made a big change in the society by successfully fighting against discrimination and inequality. However, he is also being mentioned in a lot of articles involving the U.S. president Donald Trump. Recently, there were many allegations from multiple sources that Trump asked the director of the FBI to shut down an investigation into his former national security advisor. Many are saying that Trump will go down the same path as Former President Nixon. As you can tell, Richard Nixon’s contributions to the foreign relations, environmental regulations, and women’s rights still affects the lives of the Americans today.
<Jaydon Han Yongsan International School of Seoul