Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Richard Nixon on the 1960 Election

Gerard N. Magliocca

One of the curiosities in my library at home is a first edition of Richard Nixon's book Six Crises. In that memoir, Nixon discussed the 1960 presidential campaign and the allegations of voter fraud by Democrats. He then explained why he decided not to demand a recount (on page 413):

If I were to demand a recount, the organization of the new Administration and the orderly transfer of responsibility from the old to the new might be delayed for months. The situation within the entire Federal Government would be chaotic. Those in the old Administration would not know how to act--or with what clear powers and responsibilities--and those being appointed by [John F.] Kennedy to positions in the new Administration would have the same difficulty making any plans.

Then too, the bitterness that would be engendered by such a maneuver on my part would, in my opinion, have done incalculable and lasting damage throughout the country. And finally, I could think of no worse example for nations abroad, who for the first time were trying to put free electoral procedures into effect, than that of the United States wrangling over the results of our presidential election, and even suggesting that the presidency itself could be stolen by thievery at the ballot box, It is difficult enough to get defeated candidates in some of the newly independent countries to abide by the verdict of the electorate. If we could not continue to set a good example in this respect in the United States, I could see that there would be open-season for shooting at the validity of free elections throughout the world.

Consequently, I made the decision not to support the contest and recount charges. I know that this greatly disappointed many of my best friends and most ardent supporters--but I could see for myself no other responsible course of action.


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