How an Actual GOP Hero Spoke Truth to Power—68 Years AgoRoundup
tags: GOP, McCarthyism, Margaret Chase Smith
Politicians have long tried to paint themselves as the modern day incarnation of their party’s former heroes. Everyone fights to be labeled the new Reagan or the next Kennedy, who were themselves the new Lincoln or the next Roosevelt, all of whom were just the latest incarnation of Washington and the founders. It lends credence to the old adage that history never repeats itself, but it does rhyme.
But the glorification of partisan forerunners bypasses less known but nonetheless important party scions and dismisses the ignominies of the past. We ignore our history at our peril in today’s political climate, which harbors frighteningly familiar echoes of the past.
Sixty-eight years ago today, one of the most influential yet underappreciated speeches of the modern era was delivered on the Senate floor. It came from a voice that was not well known at the time, belonging to a woman who is only occasionally remembered by the Republican party at times of convenience: Senator Margaret Chase Smith. And it came at a time—the beginnings of the Red Scare—when her party was losing its way.
Dubbed the “Declaration of Conscience,” Smith’s speech was revelatory.
Just a few months prior, in February of 1950, a largely unknown Wisconsin Senator named Joseph McCarthy waved a paper on stage and boldly declared that he held the name of 205 communists who had infiltrated the State Department. The ensuing shock and fright provided McCarthy a meteoric rise to prominence. ...
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