In 1950, Senator Joseph McCarthy from Wisconsin rose from relative obscurity when he shocked the country with the claim that many State Department workers were colluding and aiding the Communist Party. McCarthy’s communist accusations continued to gain momentum until the nationally televised Army–McCarthy hearings in early 1954. During that hearing, McCarthy charged that an aide of Army Counsel Joseph Welch’s had ties to a Communist organization. In full view of the American public, Welch defended his aide, countering McCarthy’s voluble assertions with a stern response that ultimately ended McCarthy’s career: “Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness…Let us not assassinate this lad further, senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?”
Today we are in a similarly pivotal moment in history. President Donald Trump, like McCarthy, is damaging our nation’s progress through his reckless policies and inability to govern. For example, the escalating situation with North Korea and Iran demonstrates our president’s careless attitude toward foreign policy. Charlottesville reveals his disregard for unity and a rejection of current racial tensions. His lack of legislative accomplishments demonstrates an inept understanding of our political process. The attempted implementation of a transgender ban in the military exposes a misunderstanding of policy execution. His accusations of voter impropriety exchange our rock-solid democracy with a pathway to instability, and his paranoia regarding wiretapping exposes his drive for self-preservation. His self-absorbed behavior over crowd size and election results reveals his deep desire for acceptance. The constant rotating door of staffers and lack of key nominations demonstrates his rejection of sound advice. His choice of inexperienced cabinet members reveals his need for gratification over national progress.
At every instance of incompetence, we as a nation are left with deeper divisions and distrust. Several political pundits have predicted that as goes Fox News so goes the Trump administration. Yet even that wall is starting to show cracks. Recently Fox News Anchor Shepherd Smith was discussing the revelations over Russia’s connections to the Trump administration and asked, “Why all these lies? Why is it lie after lie after lie?” We are also seeing several Republican leaders oppose Trump, including Senator Jeff Flake who has publicly accused his colleagues of being in “denial” when they suggest Trump’s behavior is rational. Corporate leaders have recently disbanded President Trump’s Business Council fearing such associations would damage their companies’ reputations. Even Utah Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee unified to oppose Trump’s Charlottesville comments. But such opposition remains temporary and Trump continues to be empowered by our leader’s complacency.
Joseph Welch changed the narrative by exposing McCarthy’s agenda. After the hearing several senators, many from McCarthy’s own party, stopped attending his meetings. These leaders did more than dodge incoming bullets with dismissing language, they silenced McCarthy by their actions. The entire Senate voted to censure McCarthy as an act of opposition. As a result, Americans stopped attending his speeches and events, and the country freed itself from McCarthy’s Communist witch hunt. Our country needs such action today. We cannot stand by callously and retreat to the shadows of political comfort. We must be diligent in calling out the behavior of our president, and work to fill the void with our ideals. This is not a partisan problem, but an issue for all Americans. We must be strong enough to ask, “Have you no sense of decency?