There once was a man not unlike the one now in our White House. His name was Senator Joseph McCarthy. He boasted in Wheeling, West Virginia, that “I hold in my hand a list of communists in the State Department.” He strode across the landscape of our beloved country like a scourge. He reveled in his power to destroy others. He lied. He added to the Black List. He sowed terror in our land. He attacked the United States Army. He sought to destroy the very departments of government. He decimated the State Department. Others quivered in his wake. They feared the mention of his name. Leaders sought refuge in silence. Those of his own party fell in line, dared not to dissent. But in the fullness of time heroes arose. And here is what they said:
“The nation sorely needs a Republican victory. But I don’t want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny — fear, ignorance, bigotry and smear.” So said Sen. Margaret Chase Smith (R-Maine) in her Declaration of Conscience, June 1, 1950.
“We will not walk in fear. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, it is in ourselves.” So said Edward R. Morrow, March 9, 1954.
“Until this moment, Senator, I think I have never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. At long last, have you left no sense of decency, Sir, at long last? If it were in my power to forgive you for your reckless cruelty I would do so. I like to think I am a gentleman, but your forgiveness will have to come from someone other than me, for I cannot forgive you.” So said Joseph Welch, June 4, 1954, at the Army-McCarthy hearings.
Sen. McCarthy approached Sen. Mike Mansfield from Montana on the Senate floor so many years ago. And he asked of Sen. Mansfield, “Mike, how are things in Montana?” To which Sen. Mansfield is said to have replied, “Much better since you left.”
And then just like a thunderstorm in the night, with lightning flashing, thunderclaps crashing, and rain beating down, the morrow came. And the storm was gone. And the sun rose again in the East.
So it will be yet again when President Trump is called out. This too shall pass. The odorous nicknames may remain, the careers damaged or ended, the enemies list still looked at in wonder, immigrant babies taken from their mothers, the news media bowed but hopefully not broken, the morrow will come. He will just be a sad memory.
But where is our Margaret Chase Smith? Our Edward R. Morrow? Our Joseph Welch? Our Mike Mansfield? Does our country still have such heroes?
The answer is yes. We’re just waiting.
Ronald L. Drake is an attorney in Washington, D.C., and formerly of Fairbanks in Sullivan County. He ran for the 8th District U.S. House seat as the Democratic nominee in 2016.
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