Today, with the radical right the most loyal voting bloc in the party, Republican leaders refuse to call out even the most extreme statements from their followers. But once upon a time, Republican politicians were the champions of reason and compromise. Famously, on June 1, 1950, Senator Margaret Chase Smith, a Republican from Maine, stood up against Republican Senator Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin and his supporters, who were running roughshod over American democracy.
Thank you for reminding us of Margaret Chase Smith’s legacy. How I wish that there was a Republican with the courage shown by Liz Cheney (and Margaret Chase Smith) along with the wish to protect voting rights and the social safety net.
I'm old enough to remember Margaret Chase Smith, given my early-age interest in government and politics. She was among several highly principled stalwart Republicans in the Senate, whom today's Republicans would brand as antifa-loving socialists. This account of her standing up to McCarthy is a timely study in courage, which among the GOP is as rare as rain in much of the tinder-dry West. He certainly was a harbinger of Trump.
It’s amazing how history repeats itself with new variations with each generation.
Direct link from McCarthy to death star donny through Roy Cohn. It is appalling how few Rs have any spine and care for democracy. The slime has been here all the time, but it has risen with the help of mafia don from the swamp to poison the waters.
Although I was in public school in Philadelphia during the period of McCarthy and his hearings, I knew of local teachers who were called before the Committee and dismissed from their positions because they were considered to be Communists!
Today there are very scary similarities to those days. I just never thought I'd live to see that happen again.
Smith was a very junior senator - and ardent anti communist - when she made her statement of conscience.
In contrast, with all her seniority and seeming senator-for-life status, Susan Collins has moved to the unethical extremism of today's GOP. Collins idea of bipartisanship is talking out of both sides of her mouth while finding infinite self justifications to march almost entirely lockstep with Mitch McConnell in serving the worst populist and plutocrat players.
I double this thank you of the reminder of Margaret Chase Smith. I do appreciate the courage Liz Cheney has shown in the face of today’s Republicans. But it is more than her personal courage, it is a call to wake up and voice one’s energy of belief in Democracy and the United States.
Isn't it sweet how the current crop of Congressional Republicans carry on the tradition of the Republicans of Senator Smith's day by caving to bullies, liars, and bigots. Joe McCarthy would be proud of his legacy.
Thank you for reminding us of Margaret Chase Smith. I have never forgotten my father, speaking in the language he was born into, exclaiming that she was indeed a good soul after that speech - his highest complement. That for a life-long Democrat. How his daughter, a life-long Democrat, feels about Liz Cheney, despite disagreeing with every political stance she has taken in the past. Courage, ethics and a commitment to Democracy.
For added good measure. McCarthy died alone, disgraced, in a state institution from complications of alcoholism and dementia. Only one person claimed otherwise, his lawyer Roy Cohn, who later in life went to work for the TFG.
Thank you Professor. I ask this question: Are we in a time warp, taking us back to the necessity of remembering Republicans “running roughshod over American Democracy”? “Smith presented a “Declaration of Conscience,” listing five principles she hoped her party would adopt. It ended with a warning: “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.” What happens next, elections and voting in Congress for critical legislation for health and safety of all Americans, will determine the strength of our Democracy. And a two party system that works for all Americans.
What a timely bit of history, Heather....as usual, you are right on!
Amazing to learn about Margaret Chase Smith. and the similarity to what we have been living through. Maybe we will survive after all.
It takes a historian to remind of a time before Stepford Republicans.
Were Margaret Chase Smith with us today, she would quickly see the Four Horsemen of Calumny are riding abroad at full throttle. Also abusing free speech to throttle the speech of others. How do we explain the almost total loss of centrist - so-called liberal Republicans - of the 1960s to 1980s even into the 1990s? Why and how did we lose the Chuck Hagels, the Richard Lugars, the Lowell Weickers, and their like? Thank you for this timely reminder from history.
Today, even moderate, level headed democrats and republicans like her are labeled as radical extremists…