Source: The New Democrat
To talk about McCarthyism I think you have to talk about Senator Joe McCarthy who in the early and mid 1950s was the ranking Republican on the Senate Investigations Committee first as Ranking Member and then as Chairman. And when Republicans won back Congress in 1952, Senator McCarthy becomes Chairman of the Senate Investigations Committee thanks to the Dwight Eisenhower sweep where the Republican win back the White House, House, and Senate all in the same election.
Because of the landslide Republican victory in 1952 Senator McCarthy is now one of the most powerful members not just of the Senate, but the entire Congress as well. And with that now has the power to launch his investigation into supposed Communists in the U.S. Government. That is how we get what became McCarthyism and this hyper partisan, tribalist, guilt by association, nationalistic Far-Right movement in America, that came right after the House Un-American Activities Committee that was supposed to investigate Communists in Hollywood.
To talk about Senator McCarthy, you also have to talk about what McCarthy and his movement represented in America back then and still represents today. This us against them tribalistic-nationalist mentality that they’re supposed to be the real Americans and anyone who disagrees with them must hate America and therefore should be under investigation because they’re working for the other side and not deserving of the same constitutional rights as the so-called real Americans the McCarthyite’s who want to stamp out communism and Communists in America at all costs even if that means violating Americans constitutional rights like the First Amendment and Fourth Amendments.
And to talk about Joe McCarthy, you also have to talk about not just how he became so powerful in the Senate with the position that he obtained, but how that movement was allowed to get started in the first place. The Cold War and the start of America’s long battle with communism with Soviet Russia and other communist and authoritarian states around the world and this hysteria that the Communists are coming and are going to take our country away from us and take away everything that we believe in and Senator McCarthy being a smart enough politician to see how he could play that and use it to his political advantage and his political skills the speeches, as well as radio and TV appearances that he gave back in the early and mid 1950s is how his movement was able to come about at all.