Senator Margaret Chase Smith’s “A Declaration of Conscience” is as relevant and moving today as it was back in Senator Smith’s and McCarthy’s day:
“June 1, 1950
As Senator Margaret Chase Smith of Maine boarded the Senate subway, she encountered the junior senator from Wisconsin, Joe McCarthy. “Margaret, you look very serious,” he said. “Are you going to make a speech?” Without hesitation, Smith replied: “Yes, and you will not like it!” The date was June 1, 1950, and Smith was about to deliver the most memorable speech of her long career.
Four months earlier, McCarthy had rocketed to national attention. In a well-publicized speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, he claimed to possess the names of 205 card-carrying communists in the State Department….”
A Declaration of Conscience (signed also by U.S. Senator Wayne L. Morse of Oregon)
“Mr. President, I would like to speak briefly and simply about a serious national condition. It is a national feeling of fear and frustration that could result in national suicide and the end of everything that we Americans hold dear. It is a condition that comes from the lack of effective leadership either in the legislative branch or the executive branch of our government….
I speak as briefly as possible because too much harm has already been done with irresponsible words of bitterness and selfish political opportunism. I speak as simply as possible because the issue is too great to be obscured by eloquence. I speak simply and briefly in the hope that my words will be taken to heart. Mr. President, I speak as a Republican. I speak as a woman. I speak as a United States senator. I speak as an American.
“A FORUM OF HATE AND CHARACTER ASSASSINATION”
The United States Senate has long enjoyed worldwide respect as the greatest deliberative body in the world. But recently that deliberative character has too often been debased to the level of a forum of hate and character assassination sheltered by the shield of congressional immunity….
“THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF CALUMNY”
Yet to displace it [the 1950 Democratic administration] with a Republican regime embracing a philosophy that lacks political integrity or intellectual honesty would prove equally disastrous to the nation. The nation sorely needs a Republican victory. But I do not want to see the Republican party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny-Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry, and Smear….
5. It is high time that we stopped thinking politically as Republicans and Democrats about elections and started thinking patriotically as Americans about national security based on individual freedom. It is high time that we all stopped being tools and victims of totalitarian techniques-techniques that, if continued here unchecked, will surely end what we have come to cherish as the American way of life.” [Link to full speech.]