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Worst Moments in American Politics

by Eric Green 5 years ago in politics
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The United States and its "facepalm" moments.

What's an eagle without a little dirt on its face?

American politics has always been at the forefront of innovation — but that doesn't mean that they're infallible. The events in 2016 ending with the election of Donald Trump have reminded us of that.

Politics these days are increasingly polarized. But that doesn't mean we can't agree on what was the worst of the worst, right? Sometimes, we can look at each other from across party lines and share a laugh. Or, in the case of the worst moments in the history of American politics, a cry.

Throughout history, America has used its resources to act. To help and to hurt people. To start and to end wars. To make decisions based on evidence or lack thereof.

America is always learning and evolving (for the better, hopefully). This means that it's entitled to "facepalm" moments just like everybody else. Here are some of the worst moments in American politics.

Bay of Pigs

Map of Cuba, with proximity to the United States. Via

The Bay of Pigs Invasion was a military infiltration of Cuba. It began when a CIA financed group of Cuban refugees landed in Cuba and attempted to topple the communist government of Fidel Castro. It was launched on April 17, 1961. It was also a complete and utter failure.

Completely overwhelmed by Castro's forces, the invaders surrendered less than three days later.

Not only did the failed invasion strengthen Castro's hold in Cuba, but it solidified the island's ties to one of America's strongest enemies: the Soviet Union. This paved the way for the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, another one of the worst moments in American politics.

Little Known Fact: Revolutionary Leader Che Guevara actually thanked President Kennedy and the United States for the Bay of Pigs invasion. You're welcome, Che!


Police and citizens emptying kegs into the streets.

Americans became more and more restless as they elbowed each other whilst in line to buy their last legal drinks from saloons and liquor stores. The date was January 16, 1920. By the time the next day came around, the United States would be a "dry" country.

Obviously, this was wildly unpopular among Americans.

This is considered one of the worst moments in American politics for a variety of reasons. Above all, the effort to prohibit alcohol failed miserably. Americans everywhere were making a mockery of the law.

Cue the rise of the infamous gangsters and bootleggers in big cities all over the United States.

Beyond the rise of organized crime, this was a bad decision for the overall economy.

Little Known Fact: Drug stores continued selling alcohol as "medicine." Sacramental wine was still permitted for religious purposes, as well. No wonder the number of rabbis and priests skyrocketed.

Watergate Scandal

Ex-President Richard Nixon meeting Rock Revolutionist Elvis Presley.

The Watergate Scandal began on June 17, 1972, when several burglars were arrested in the office of the Democratic National Committee. They had been caught wiretapping phones and stealing documents that contained sensitive information.

President Richard Nixon played the largest role in this conspiracy. Any efforts to cover his own tracks were unsuccessful. It was eventually revealed that the men involved were tied to the President's campaign for re-election.

Richard Nixon resigned in August 1974 as one of the worst presidents in American history. Donald Trump may take the crown on that one.

Despite its rightful place as possibly the worst moment in American politics, the Watergate Scandal was a learning experience. It lead the American populous to begin questioning their leaders and think more critically about the presidency.

Little Known Fact: The Justice Department was playing with the idea of a Nixon indictment after his resignation.

Article I, Section 3, Clause 7 of the Constitution states that a person removed from office by impeachment and conviction "shall nevertheless be liable to Indictment, Trial, Judgement and Punishment, according to the law."

Talk about salt in the wound.

US Invasion of Iraq

President George W. Bush received never ending backlash from Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2002. The President cited the possibility of Saddam Hussein possessing chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. Senior American Officials also said that Saddam Hussein had direct ties to the Al Qaeda terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden.

This led to an all-out American "occupation authority" in 2003. Critics blamed the President and his advisors for igniting the Sunni-led insurgency: disbanding the Iraqi Army.

Iraq was left weak, its people thrusted into a long-term state of unrest. To this day, decisions to establish new governments abroad are deemed dangerous and are rarely considered in foreign policy discussion. Trump dealt with a similar situation in Syria earlier in 2017.

Little Known Fact: In the midst of the Iraq War, a news anchor refused to report on Paris Hilton. In a show of defiance, she burned a copy of the report and shred another, while on air.

The Witch Hunt of Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden is a former National Security Agency subcontractor who leaked top secret information about NSA surveillance activities.

The actions of the NSA were beyond controversial and Obama's punishment on Snowden kept under wraps. President Barack Obama promised to lead a fully transparent administration. This would prove to be a false promise, making this another one of the worst moments in American politics.

Snowden has been called everything from a hero and patriot to a whistleblower and traitor. The story of Edward Snowden is still in development.

Little Known Fact: Edward Snowden listed Buddhism as his religion on a military recruitment form, saying that the choice of Agnostic was “strangely absent."

Hiroshima and Nagasaki

The dilemma during World War II was one of the worst moments in American politics because of the sheer number of innocents involved. To save American lives, President Harry S. Truman dropped a five ton atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6th, 1945. Three days later, a second atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki. Roughly 200,000 Japanese civilians were affected.

Five days later, the Japanese unconditionally surrendered to the United States.

Ending the war came at a morally abhorrent cost. Men, women, and children were slaughtered and faced the horrific effects of radiation.

Little Known Fact: The atomic bomb on Hiroshima used Uranium-235, a substance with a half life of 700 million years. That's how long it will take for the radiation to clear out!

Interment Camps

Three years before the bombing on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed executive order 9066. This meant the rounding up of over 120,000 Japanese Americans.

America called them "relocation centers" to make them sound less menacing than they actually were.

Japanese Americans were housed without any means of cooking or use of the bathroom.

Two and a half years later, in 1944, Roosevelt would end Executive Order 9066. Too little too late, unfortunately.

Little Known Fact: Surviving prisoners were awarded $20,000 in 1988. Only 60,000 prisoners were actually alive to collect.

The Trail of Tears

The Trail of Tears, also known as the Walk of Blame, involved the forced removal of Native American nations from their native land in the Southeastern United States to an area west of the Mississippi.

Once again, this involved men, women, and children; thousands of which were affected by starvation, disease, and exposure.

The victims were the Cherokee, Muscogee, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw. More than 3,000 Native Americans died on the Trail of Tears.

Little Known Fact: The Trail of Tears was actually not a single trail! It was made up of many routes, all leading to the same place.

Dred Scott v. Sanford

In what was the worst Supreme Court decision in the history of American politics, the Dred Scottdecision held that African Americans were not American citizens.

This was unconditional (whether they were freemen or slaves).

This lead to increased animosity within America's borders. The ruling itself barred laws that would free slaves. Moreover, it halted any progression towards a political solution to slavery.

Little Known Fact: Dred Scott was only able to enjoy his freedom for nine months. He died on September 17, 1858.


About the author

Eric Green

Productive achievement is mankind's most noble activity.

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