A Republican Declaration of Conscience

“I would like to speak briefly and simply about a national condition. It is a national feeling of fear and frustration of everything that we Americans hold dear. It is a condition that comes from the lack of effective leadership either in the legislative or executive branch of our government.”

On June 1, 1950, Senator Margaret Chase Smith (R-ME) took the Senate floor and gave the speech which would mark the beginning of the end of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s (R-WI) reign of anti-Communist terror. The Red Scare, while possessing legitimate concerns, Smith argued, had allowed “certain elements of the Republican party” to ride the “Republican party to victory through the selfish political exploitation of fear, bigotry, ignorance, and intolerance.”  She warned that replacing a Democratic administration complacent in the spread of communism at home and abroad with a Republican regime devoid of “political integrity or intellectual honesty” would prove “equally disastrous,” akin to a “national suicide.”

Sixty-eight years later Smith’s words still ring hauntingly true, just replace “Communist” with “Mexican” or “Muslim”; replace “fellow Senator” with “Mr. President.”

Smith titled her speech “Declaration of Conscience” and ended it with the “Statement of Seven Republican Senators,” which was signed by six others of the minority party. The statement made five declarations: that it was time for the Republican party to put the nation above politics, that the Democratic administration had failed the American people, that demagogic elements of the Republican party had aided in this failure, that both parties had played into the hands of America’s enemies, and that “it is high time that we stopped thinking politically as Republicans and Democrats about elections and started thinking patriotically as Americans.”

Smith was able to warn her America of the dangers of authoritarianism. Yet for some reason, no one–Republican or Democrat–was able to competently warn our America of the danger of an authoritarian President Trump. What’s worse is that no one–Republican or Democrat–is apparently able to competently warn the country of the danger of the authoritarian backlash against the President.

President Trump rode the Republican party to victory on the backs of the “Four Horsemen of Calumny–Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry, and Smear” just as Senator McCarthy attempted to do so nearly 70 years ago.

While I cannot speak for the Democrats, I say that it is time for the handful of my fellow Never-Trump Republicans, those Republicans who have been cowed into silence by the President, and those Republicans who currently live in political exile to embrace Senator Smith’s long-ago spoken words of wisdom. It is time that we euthanize the Four Horsemen of Calumny, that we burn away the fear, ignorance, bigotry, and smear that has corrupted our party as we would any other pestilence.

It is time we act like that, while we are Republicans, we are Americans first.

It is time that we condemn the Democratic party for making us vulnerable to our enemies.

It is time that we condemn the elements of the Republican party which would make us even more vulnerable than we were under a Democrat regime.

It is time that we accept and move forward from the fact that both parties have “confused” and “divided” us to the betterment of our nation’s enemies.

Most importantly, it is time that stop thinking politically as Republicans and Democrats and once again begin thinking as patriotic Americans united in the effort of preserving our national security “based on individual freedom” rather than on “totalitarian techniques.” It is time that we again practice the values of liberal democracy which we claim to so adamantly believe, to stop being “tools and victims” of a totalitarianism which, if left unchecked, will “surely end what we have come to cherish as the American way of life.”

Are there any Republicans with enough conscience left to join me in this declaration?