What Wisconsin – and the Rest of the Nation - can do to Shake off Joe McCarthy’s (and Donald Trump’s) NeoFascist Curse

“Joseph McCarthy is the only major politician in the country who can be labeled “liar” without fear of libel.”Joseph Alsop

“The State Department is infested with communists. I have here in my hand a list of 205 names that were made known to the Secretary of State (Dean Acheson)as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department.”  – Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, February 9, 1950, at a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia

“If somebody would only smuggle me aboard the Democratic campaign special with a baseball bat in my hand, I’d teach patriotism to ‘Little Adlai’.” – Joe McCarthy, mocking 1952 Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson)

"I call Marco Rubio, 'Little Marco’. That frightened little puppy couldn't be elected dog-catcher in Florida." – Donald Trump (mocking Republican rival Sen Marco Rubio during 2016 campaign)

“Joseph McCarthy was a disgrace to Wisconsin, to the Senate, and to America" – William Proxmire,Democratic Party successor to McCarthy. (Proxmire was elected US Senator in a special election in August, 1954 and was subsequently repeatedly re-elected by landslide margins

“There are significant analogies between the American fear of Communism during the McCarthy era and the American fear of Islam at the beginning of the twenty-first century.” 
― Ben Daniel,  “The Search for Truth about Islam:  A Christian Pastor Separates Fact from Fiction

“You know, it really doesn’t matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young, and beautiful, piece of ass.” – Donald Trump


Not too long ago, a mild-mannered, 73-year-old US Senator from Vermont rose to speak on the floor of the US Senate and introduced Resolution 261 (read it further below). The senator had reached the limits of his patience with a name-calling, mocking, free-swinging, demagogic, megalomaniacal, right-wing politician who had bamboozled thousands of Wisconsin voters to vote for him.

The name of the Vermont senator was Ralph E. Flanders, and the date was June 1, 1954.

Flanders was a moderate Republican, and the name-calling politician who had bamboozled thousands of Wisconsinites to support him, was not Donald Trump, but Joseph R. McCarthy.

Some Republicans back then were actually moderates and some of them agreed with Flanders that the far-right-wing McCarthy was destroying the Republican Party while selfishly working to achieve his self-promoting agenda – just like the right-wing Trump.

And so, just like the candidacy of current Vermont US Senator Bernie Sanders today (ie, March 2016) the courageous, likeable Vermont Senator Flanders spoke up when it was his duty to do so in order to save America from fascist influences like the infamous ‘Friendly’ American Fascist, Joseph R. McCarthy.

Flanders and Sanders were and still are simply following a critically-thinking, justice-seeking and independent-minded Vermont tradition. There must be something in the still pure water and pure air up there. Wisconsin - and my nearby state of Minnesota - still have relatively pure water and air in the northern halves of our states; that is, unless extractive and polluting industries like copper mining and industrial-strength pig farming industries have anything to say about it.

Before relating what Senator Flanders did to save America from another rightward lurch toward fascism and demagoguery back in 1954, I include some more background to the story.

Meet the Late, Lamented, American Fascist Senator from Wisconsin, Joseph R. McCarthy

Joseph McCarthy was born and raised on a poor Wisconsin farm in a large, poor Irish Catholic family. After failing at chicken farming as a young adult, he got a law degree from Marquette University, a Jesuit college. After setting up what turned out to be a failed law practice, he served for two years in WWII and then, on returning home from the war, went into politics.

In 1946, he barely managed to get elected to the US Senate (by bamboozling Wisconsin voters to vote for him by campaigning on false stories of his “heroism” in the South Pacific - where he actually was a simple non-combat “desk jockey”). The major hurdle in getting to the Senate was his upset primary election victory over Wisconsin’s incumbent senator, the progressive Bob La Follette, Jr.

La Follette had been a pro-farmer/pro-labor Wisconsin Progressive Party US Senator, but the Progressive Party had recently been dissolved, so he had to run for re-election as a progressive Republican in 1946. Having been advised that it would be unnecessary to run an active campaign against the unknown – albeit cunning – upstart McCarthy, he was narrowly defeated by just 5,000 votes.

McCarthy’s first three years in the Senate were uneventful, except for the fact that he fell in with a variety of nefarious corporate interests that included Texas oil millionaires, the sugar lobby and real estate interests. He also became known for his proclivity for betting on the ponies and stock market - and drinking too much.

The Beginning of the Proto-Fascist McCarthy Era

On February 9, 1950, eager to make a name for himself, McCarthy finagled a speaking gig at a Women’s Republican Club/Lincoln Day event in Wheeling, West Virginia. In that speech he made the infamously false claim of the existence of 205 communists in President Truman’s State Department.

With that fake “revelation”, McCarthy suddenly began generating 24/7 media coverage from fawning right-wing newspapers, their reporters and their photographers, similar to how the media covers big city gangsters or narcissistic, megalomaniacal wannabe politicians like Donald Trump. Supporting the provable fact that McCarthy lied, he had revised the 205 number down to 57 by the time he got back to Washington.

McCarthy never made his fake list of alleged “communists” available to the public, just as our modern-day Republican McCarthy amazingly “look-alike” Ted Cruz or “act-alike” Donald Trump. (For more on Cruz and Trump, see some of their McCarthy-like quotes below.)

As one example of the similarities between the current GOP candidates for president, Trump has refused to talk about any of the details concerning one of his biggest applause lines, promising to build a wall along the entire northern border of Mexico and then “make Mexico pay for it”.

The entire world is already laughing at a nation that will tolerate such delusional thinking in a potential president.

The Conservative Media Went Gaga Over McCarthy – for Four Dangerous Years

The mainstream media coverage of presidential elections haven’t really changed much in the past decades in that the media always tries to make ALL elections appear to be cliff-hanger-close because it sells papers. Back in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt/New Deal era the Big Media consistently favored conservative politicians and their anti-labor union, pro-business, pro-banking and war-profiteering interests by 5 to 1 margins, and they covered those issues and conservative candidates in a similarly disproportionate fashion. One only has to recall the huge “Dewey Wins!!” headline on the ultra-conservative Chicago Tribune’s front page which President Truman proudly displayed the day after his upset win over the conservative Republican Dewey in 1948.

Starting with the Wheeling speech and buoyed by the overweening press coverage he was given free of charge, the narcissistic far right-wing senator from Wisconsin expanded his anti-communist/left-wing agenda until he foolishly accused the US Army of harboring communists. It wasn’t long until the hard-drinking, hard-gambling, paranoid demagogue was exposed as a total fraud, and he was justly humiliated out of power.

“Have You No Sense of Decency?”: The Question That Needs to be Asked of Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump, et. al

The final blow occurred on June 9, 1954, the 30th day of the televised Army-McCarthy hearings, when the chief counsel for the Army, Joseph Welch, ended his interrogation of McCarthy with the statement that finished the senator’s destructive political career. Here is Welch’s famous reproach of McCarthyism - and the fatal question (which “went viral”): “Have you no sense of decency?”

Little did I dream you could be so reckless and so cruel…If it were in my power to forgive you for your reckless cruelty, I would do so. I like to think I'm a gentle man, but your forgiveness will have to come from someone other than me…You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you no sense of decency?”

Following that truth-telling statement (that had been witnessed by millions of television viewers), the press instantly lost interest in the spectacle of McCarthy, and the deluded, megalomaniacal senator essentially committed suicide by drinking himself to death over the next few years.

Partly because the discredited Republican Party had tolerated such a demagogue for as long as it had, the Democrats regained both the House and the Senate in the next mid-term election. (Justice sometimes does happen in politics, especially when a courageous person of influence such as Flanders does his duty.)

So, let’s go back to hear more about the Flanders/Sanders resistance against American Fascism.

The Flanders/Sanders Connection: The Role of Independently Thinking Vermont Senators

Even before the Army-McCarthy hearings began, Senator Flanders had been concerned that even war hero president Dwight D. Eisenhower (who actually despised McCarthy) seemed to be reluctant to confront the bullying tactics of “Tail-gunner Joe” (aka the “Pepsi-Cola Kid” – a nickname earned because of his early efforts on behalf of the soft drink corporation’s Big Sugar interests). So, on behalf of the better nature of his political party Flanders issued Resolution 261, which read as follows:

“Resolved, that the conduct of the Senator from Wisconsin is unbecoming a member of the US Senate, is contrary to senatorial traditions and tends to bring the Senate into disrepute. Such conduct is hereby condemned.”

The GOP Habit: Employing Evil Right-wing Politics (Fascism) in the Fight Against Left-wing “Democratic Socialism”

Two days later, McCarthy appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and proclaimed to the nation what everybody in Washington already knew (but nobody dared to say out loud): that he had become “the sole private eye, prosecutor, judge, jury and sentencer (of suspected anti-fascist, liberal, pro-democracy, so-called “communists”).

Two months earlier (March 9, 1954), well before the Army-McCarthy hearings began, Flanders had spoken on the Senate floor, accusing McCarthy of trying to destroy the Republican Party. In the speech, Flanders proclaimed:

“He dons his war paint. He goes into his war dance. He emits his war whoops. He goes forth to battle and proudly returns with the scalp of a pink Army dentist (google the “Irving Peress affair”). We may assume that this represents the depth and seriousness of Communist penetration at this time.”

What Wisconsin Can do NOW to Shake Off the McCarthy Curse

This next week is the run-up to the 2016 Wisconsin primary elections scheduled for Tuesday, April 5. Bernie Sanders is running not just for president of the United States. He is also running for a sustainable future for the planet and for people all over the earth. Most of the rest of the world understands that.

Bernie is arguably the most important politician coming from a number of independent-minded, justice-seeking, whistle-blowing senators (from Vermont or wherever), and he is coming off three impressive landslide victories over the center-right Wall Street and War Street-favored candidate Hillary Clinton in Washington, Alaska and Hawaii.

Shame on the Mainstream Media: Have You No Sense of Decency (by fairly reporting the news)?

The mainstream media should be totally ashamed of itself for the way it has handled Bernie’s dramatic, ground-breaking news story.

Over the few days preceding the primary elections in those three states, there was absolutely nothing new to report from the Republican campaigns. The Brussels bombings had already been discussed, ad nauseum; but the 5 to 1 ratio held true to form.

On the three Sunday morning network TV shows the day after Bernie’s dramatic victories, every panel member on every show was either covering Trump or Clinton or the campaign perspectives of Wall Street and War Street. Discussion about the Sanders campaign was shut out.

Trump and Terrorism totally over-shadowed the real important news about the Sanders revolution. No TV network coverage about the amazing bird that hopped up on Bernie’s podium and focused on Bernie was shown. Even most of the late-night talk shows gave short shrift to Bernie’s campaign. The right-wing, crony capitalist stance of the corporate-controlled media again exposed itself.

Wisconsin has an unusually checkered history of alternately producing or being governed by major Democratic Socialist/Progressive Party politicians with occasional embarrassing lapses into being represented by or governed by right-wing, anti-labor, pro-corporate GOP politicians from the state like US Senator Joseph McCarthy, Secretary of the HHS Tommy Thompson, Governor Scott Walker and  US Senator Ron Johnson. The paymasters of each of those politicians have been big corporations, right-wing, pro-corporate family foundations, multimillionaires and billionaires who are seeking more privileges and wealth for themselves and less for the lower 99%.

Every politician that has been bribed-by-a-corporation is expected to promote legislation  that will enact laws that lower the taxes on corporations, raise their profits and get rid of pro-environment, anti-pollution regulations that limit the profitability of the corporations and their billionaire investors that provided the bribery money.

As an inevitable consequence of the corrupt campaign finance laws that are now in place since the Citizens United GOP-dominated Supreme Court decision of 2010, there will be increasingly fewer privileges, less financial security and less access to affordable health care for the poor and working classes who will never be able to influence the already-bribed politicians – unless there is a return to integrity and morality of politicians like those that occasionally come out of states like Vermont, Minnesota and Wisconsin (Bernie Sanders, Paul Wellstone and Russ Feingold, as three good examples).

So, from one of your neighbors to the west, who loves Wisconsin almost as much as he does Minnesota, I ask you to please be aware that a lot of progressive young Wisconsinites (and Minnesotans too) are out there working for Bernie Sanders to be our next President. Please tune in, watch one of Bernie’s heartfelt rallies on YouTube, let yourself “feel the Bern” and join the important anti-fascist revolution.