On example of his thinking is a speech he gave on February 9, 1950 to a group of Republican women in Wheeling, West Virginia. He produced a piece of paper about which he claimed:
I have here in my hand a list of 205—a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department.As a result of his work, many citizens suspected of being Communist sympathizers were blacklisted and faced discrimination. His tactics were very unpopular among the other Senators, and eventually he was censured with a unanimous vote from the Democrats and with the Republicans voting 50/50.
Today, McCarthyism is a term invoked to describe a political witch hunt, particularly when a person's patriotism is brought into question, and the accusations are unsubstantiated.
Many view McCarthy with disdain, while others have believed he is deserving of a better reputation. Ann Coulter, for instance, dedicated an entire chapter of her book Treason to defending McCarthy, and suggesting that the Democrats denounced him for fear that they were actually guilty of his accusations.
I think this is an important term to be aware of in light of the recent election. Obama has frequently been accused of promoting a socialist agenda, particularly when he suggested that we should "spread the wealth around." Some have suggested that he is a Communist.
This image is a good example of the suggestions that some have been making.
Are the charges justified? Are they just unsubstantiated accusations...McCarthyism? I'll leave that up to other people to argue about. Ultimately, we'll have to wait and see what decisions he makes as our next President.
But when someone speaks about attacks on Obama as McCarthyism, at least you'll know what they mean.