In February of 1950 a young, virtually unknown Republican Senator left for Wheeling, West Virginia. He was on a mission for his party. It wasn’t his first mission. He had been a Marine during WWII and had flown on missions in which he fired a tail gun at coconut and palm trees just for giggles. He normally sat behind a desk preparing reports in relative safety. He resigned his commission in 1943 and changed his military record into one of heroics and valor to garner a political career and medals. He would forever leave a mark on American Politics. His name would become known in every household. His name was Joseph McCarthy. He was about to scare America. It wasn’t the first time that this reprehensible person had resorted to such low schemes and it wouldn’t be the last.
In April 1865, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated and Andrew Johnson became the President. Johnson was a Southern Democrat and was immediately attacked by the Republicans for showing leniency towards the South when Johnson was simply carrying on with Lincoln’s original plans; their attacks on Johnson reached an apex with their attempt to impeach him. From that time on, that iteration of the Republican party would be in charge with only small breaks with Grover Cleveland’s election twice.
In 1914, the Democrats managed to squeeze in again with the election of Woodrow Wilson due to a split in the Republican Party. The Republicans again went into full swing, sparking the Red Scare. Civil Rights were ignored as hundreds were rounded up for just having a certain belief and deported. The message was simple; America was under attack from within and the Republicans were here to save us. Individuals such as J. Edgar Hoover were brought on board to spy on and bring in ‘Reds.’ Republicans were successful as they won the Presidency again and held on to it until the thirties, though a bone was thrown to the public by granting women their suffrage and relaxing the oppression of unions in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution which shook the wealthiest.
With the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his continued popular appeal, the Republicans went into full attack mode with the development of the House Un-American Activities Committee headed by Martin Dies in 1938. It was a hunt of minds that did not fit into the plans of the Republicans. Martin Dies believed it was the duty of the committee to reestablish Christian influence and protect ‘Good Americans’ – both according to the definition of Dies – and anyone who disagreed with Dies was labeled a subversive.
Franklin continued on to be elected and gain popularity. The Republicans went into Plan B, which included McCarthy’s and others’ roles in rousing up suspicion against the Democrats and discrediting Roosevelt’s legacy as Harry Truman took the reins. Using fear of infiltration of the government by subversives through the country without a shred of evidence threw the country into a panic and into the arms of the Republicans
It was a period of heightened anxieties. Professors at universities were afraid to lecture on opposing political ideas. People were afraid of owning the wrong book, having the wrong friends, talking to the wrong people; it was a witch hunt of ideas. It was a time that if one did not think like others, that person became an enemy of the state. Citizens were sent subpoenas and they had no right to free legal counsel – and it was a time of great financial risk just to prove one’s own innocence. It was a time of telling people ‘we are trying to protect your freedoms.’ We didn’t want to be enslaved like the Soviet Union but, in fact, our freedoms became very limited by the fears created by the Republican Tools.
It is a strategy that has worked for them over and over–and it continues today as they throw out red herrings that give them extraordinary powers to create unconstitutional entities such as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). What can citizens do? Protect ourselves by learning all that we can; question everything, and hold our elected representatives accountable. After all, Joseph McCarthy was finally brought down and stopped…when someone demanded that he give proof.