American Government and Politics

“First Watergate: Then You: Spiro Agnew and the Making of an Emotional Community"



Considered a political lightweight initially, Vice President Spiro Agnew became Richard Nixon’s effective point man in the attack on the media as “liberal,” on the college professors as “subversives,” and on the counterculture. His time in the spotlight ended abruptly when charges of tax evasion led to his resignation in 1973. Agnew’s resignation convinced his many followers that their enemies – the media, the liberals and communists, the Jews – had schemed to eliminate their champion. Thousands wrote letters to the Vice President’s office echoing the angry and often conspiratorial style of their fallen hero. This visceral reaction to Agnew’s departure remained ignored by the political establishment of both parties, however, in light of Watergate and the Democrats’ 1974 midterm success. We contend that they reveal the politics of temperament and the component parts of what became the Gingrich Revolution in the mid-1990s and the GOP of Donald Trump.


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