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TrixyMix

Margaret Chase Smith’s Speech of a Lifetime

The American experiment was founded on the idea of a democracy where the people hold the ultimate power over the government. But when the government oversteps its power; when it threatens to endanger individual rights, it takes someone with true courage to stand up for the America public. Some of the most striking examples of blatant abuse of power in the last century occurred during the Cold War. From 1947 to 1991, the Capitalist United States (US) and the Communist Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) clashed in a series of escalating economic and political tensions. In the midst of this tumultuous period, US government officials became concerned that communist sympathizer would collude with Soviet spies and endanger national security. The most vocal advocate for the “Red Scare” was Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. McCarthy came under the national spotlight during his speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, when he claimed that 205 State Department employees were known communist infiltrators (Achter). Although he lacked definitive evidence to back his claim, McCarthy continued a long string of accusations against celebrities, politicians, and nearly anyone who disagreed with him. McCarthy’s campaign to “expose” communist infiltrators caused innocent Americans to lose their careers and reputations, and fueled McCarthy’s rise to power. This period of mass, unsubstantiated paranoia eventually became known as “McCarthyism” (Achter). Few dared to challenge him, for fear of becoming his next target; At least not until a woman by the name of Margaret Chase Smith stepped into the political fray.