“Today our country is being psychologically divided by the confusion and the suspicions that are bred in the United States Senate to spread like cancerous tentacles of ‘know nothing, suspect everything’ attitudes.”
Those words could have been written yesterday, but they were actually spoken by Maine Senator (R) Margaret Chase Smith on June 1st, 1950. Her famous address, The Declaration of Conscience, was a response to the tactics of Wisconsin Senator (R) Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee. Although Senators McCarthy and Smith were members of the same party, Smith’s conscience compelled her to reject the behavior and tactics of her colleague, even should it should cost her party the election.
I don’t want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny — Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry, and Smear.
Though her stand was ultimately ineffectual, as it took this country another four years to master its fear and repudiate McCarthyism (thanks in large part to Joseph Welch), it was no less brave for this. It is, in these dark times, sadly incredible to see a politician willing to put her country before her party.
Everyone reading this knows why I bring this up. Since founding RedMonk fourteen years ago, with the exception of my advocacy for same sex marriage in my home state, I have never publicly commented on political matters before. Ever. This is, however, the most important election of my lifetime. This country is at the kind of crossroads it has not known since 1860, and if you think comparisons to the Civil War are mere hyperbole, I would respectfully suggest that you have not been paying close enough attention.
Much of this fraught election has been driven by fear. Fear of immigrants, fear of minorities, fear of terrorists, fear of people that are different. There are always, in every era, legitimate reasons for the United States to be concerned. There is, at this moment, no reason for this country to be afraid from external threats.
Twenty-two years before he assumed the presidency in that similarly troubled year of 1860, Abraham Lincoln gave a speech to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois on January 27, 1838. Although it has come to be known as the Lyceum Address, it was in fact titled “The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions.” In it, the man who would become the greatest President this country has ever known said the following:
Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest, with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer. If it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide.
I sincerely hope that this nation of free men and women shall live through all time.
If you are reading this and you are a US citizen, please vote.