Every day astonishes me anew at the things we have lost in the country in such a short time. Among them:
- Good spelling
We have been down this road before (except for the spelling). In the fifties, a real “witch hunt” divided America, led by Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy. In his shameless and soulless harassment of private citizens, Joe McCarthy destroyed careers and even lives by accusing people of being Communists without either proof or evidence.
The “McCarthy Era” transferred the World War II fear of Germans and Japanese to the new post-war target of Russia and Communists. Once our ally, Russia now demonstrated expansionist ambitions and held a nuclear weapon. Sen. McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee set as their goal to root out secret Communists in this country.
Senator Chase-Smith’s Declaration of Conscience
Appalled by their no-holds-barred tactics, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith on June 1, 1950, issued her “Declaration of Conscience.” In it, she said that she did not want to see her party, the Republican party, “ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny—Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry, and Smear.”
Yet, here we are again.
The Four Horsemen of Calumny
The current administration deploys the Four Horsemen of Calumny regularly and indiscriminately.
- Fear: It subjects us daily to official and unofficial declarations that fuel Fear of the Other. Then they ginned up fear of Communists. Now it’s people of color, Muslims, immigrants, Jews, scientists, women, and Democrats. No accusation seems too low, no insult too base, no action a step too far.
- Ignorance: This administration and its supporters seek to impugn education by deriding people with higher educations as “elitists.” It tells us that Evangelical Christianity is as valid as science and should be taught in the public schools—which are supported financially by citizens of all faiths. It derides the findings of scientists as nonsense and declares that scientific results are not to be trusted. Anyone who actually knows things, can think logically, and speaks out in disagreement may, in some parts of the country, be dismissed with the phrase, “That’s just your education talking.”
- Bigotry: Police arrested the father of the man currently occupying the White House at a KKK rally in New York City in 1927. The apple did not fall far from the tree. As a real-estate developer, Donald Trump built a reputation for keeping black tenants out of his buildings. Now that he’s in the White House, Klansman, neo-Nazis and dyed-in-the-wool haters march in the streets of American cities. He calls them “nice people.”
- Smear: In just 500 days, we have moved from an administration of civilized and educated discourse to one of schoolyard taunts and invective. The Bully-in-Chief leads the howling pack with smears delivered in speeches, in interviews, at rallies and on Twitter. Here are just a few among the 472 terms Donald Trump has used as insults on Twitter about people, places, and things: Lying, dishonest, crooked, disgusting, deceptive, disaster, crazy, clown, dummy, unelectable, low-energy stiff, crying, sad, irrelevant, phony, corrupt, biased, bad, failing, sloppy, mental basket case, and—his #1 favorite—fake.
The Soul of the Country
I wonder what Senator Chase-Smith would make of her party now. I wonder if she disagreed with it in 1968 when Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” essentially flipped the party of Lincoln and the party of Jim Crow. She lost her seat in 1972 after serving four terms.
This is not about politics, people. It’s about the soul of this country, which is being dragged through the mud daily. Internationally, our government is a laughing stock. People respond to the Four Horsemen of Calumny by going into denial. “This is not us,” they say, or “This is now who I am.” But if you voted for this and you support this degradation of our national spirit, well, you own it.
Bailing Out of the Party
Notable and distinguished Conservatives have begun leaving the party they have belonged to all their lives. George Will, Bill Kristol, Steve Schmidt, John Kasich, and Robert Duvall have all bugged out, along with a crowd of state senators, representatives and mayors. They have stepped back in an attempt to distance themselves from the Four Horsemen of Calumny and their impact on America. A record number of Republican Members of Congress have chosen not to seek re-election, including the Speaker of the House.
What comes next? Who knows? It’s up to the American people. We can begin turning things around in the November mid-term elections. Will that happen? We’ll see. Until then, anything goes. We need another Margaret Chase-Smith to declare her conscience and rein in the Four Horsemen of Calumny.
PS: I know I used a lot of big words in this post. It’s just my education talking.