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Margaret Chase Smith's "Declaration of Conscience" (1950)

March 19, 2014
Margaret Chase Smith's address to the US Senate on June 1, 1950 was a "Declaration of Conscience" in response to Joseph R. McCarthy's accusations about Communist subversives in the government. The overall tone shames the other senators into soul searching. It expresses the hope that the government will find its way back to upholding the individual freedoms that unite and strengthen America.
E-text available here.
obscure
I speak as simply as possible because the issue is too great to be obscured by eloquence.
debase
The United States Senate has long enjoyed worldwide respect as the greatest deliberative body in the world. But recently that deliberative character has too often been debased to the level of a forum of hate and character assassination sheltered by the shield of congressional immunity.
impute
It is ironical that we Senators can in debate in the Senate directly or indirectly, by any form of words, impute to any American who is not a Senator any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming an American--and without that non-Senator American having any legal redress against us--yet if we say the same thing in the Senate about our colleagues we can be stopped on the grounds of being out of order.
conscience
I think that it is high time for the United States Senate and its members to do some soul-searching--for us to weigh our consciences--on the manner in which we are performing our duty to the people of America--on the manner in which we are using or abusing our individual powers and privileges.
distinction
Whether it be a criminal prosecution in court or a character prosecution in the Senate, there is little practical distinction when the life of a person has been ruined.
sufficient
The record of the present Democratic administration has provided us with sufficient campaign issues without the necessity of resorting to political smears.
complacency
The Democratic administration has greatly lost the confidence of the American people by its complacency to the threat of communism here at home and the leak of vital secrets to Russia through key officials of the Democratic administration.
dilute
There are enough proved cases to make this point without diluting our criticism with unproved charges.
integrity
Yet to displace it with a Republican regime embracing a philosophy that lacks political integrity or intellectual honesty would prove equally disastrous to this nation.
calumny
But I don’t want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny--Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry, and Smear.
fleeting
While it might be a fleeting victory for the Republican Party, it would be a more lasting defeat for the American people.
allay
But we do have the responsibility of rendering constructive criticism, of clarifying issues, of allaying fears by acting as responsible citizens.
mangle
As a woman, I wonder how the mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters feel about the way in which members of their families have been politically mangled in the Senate debate--and I use the word "debate" advisedly.
vilification
I don’t like the way the Senate has been made a rendezvous for vilification, for selfish political gain at the sacrifice of individual reputations and national unity.
immunity
I am not proud of the way we smear outsiders from the Floor of the Senate and hide behind the cloak of congressional immunity and still place ourselves beyond criticism on the Floor of the Senate.
fascist
As an American, I condemn a Republican "Fascist" just as much I condemn a Democratic "Communist."
contradictory
The Democratic administration has initially created the confusion by its lack of effective leadership, by its contradictory grave warnings and optimistic assurances, by its complacency to the threat of communism here at home, by its oversensitiveness to rightful criticism, by its
petty bitterness against its critics.
exploitation
Certain elements of the Republican Party have materially added to this confusion in the hopes of riding the Republican Party to victory through the selfish political exploitation of fear, bigotry, ignorance, and intolerance.
undeniable
To this extent, Democrats and Republicans alike have unwittingly, but undeniably, played directly into the Communist design of "confuse, divide, and conquer."
totalitarian
It is high time that we all stopped being tools and victims of totalitarian techniques--techniques that, if continued here unchecked, will surely end what we have come to cherish as the American way of life.

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