The Constitution was written in order to protect the general rights of all Americans as well as to set guidelines for limiting government control. During the 1950’s, Senator Joseph McCarthy caused a nationwide phenomenon, which led to the government violating many rights of Americans. As McCarthy addressed to the Wheeling Women’s Republican Club in Wheeling, West Virginia, in February of 1950,
While I cannot take the time to name all the men in the State Department who have been named as members of the Communist Party and members of a spy ring I have here in my hand a list of 205 that were known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping the policy of the State Department. (Kallen 20)
With this irrational statement, the Senator amplified the Red Scare to uncontrollable levels. Joseph McCarthy did not start the fear of Communism; he only used it to his advantage. With the Cold War beginning, McCarthy utilized the best tool he could find to gain political power: widespread fear. His statements started a witch-trial of over 2,000 alleged Communist spies in many higher-level positions in American society, causing families and American society to be torn apart, violation of constitutional rights, and an irrational fear of Communism (Kallen 20).
Courts nationwide were faced with trying those accused. Congressional Panels around the United States put forth the question, “Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist party?” (McCarthyism). Without probable cause, the American government dragged thousands of people to court for crimes they did not commit. To be accused of being a Communist was one of the worst fates one could endure. The accused were labeled as traitors to their country. They lost their friends, jobs, families, and all respect by everyone they knew. Ellen W. Schrecker states, “The anti-communist crusade affected thousands of individuals, institutions, and communities […].” meaning that this Red Scare affected every aspect of American life, not just the people accused (199). Businesses, families, organizations, and every part of American society were negatively impacted by this incident. Safety of mind is important for a person’s happiness, and everyone in America felt unsafe. This was a national catastrophe, and it needed to be stopped.
McCarthy’s motives in starting this Communism scandal were mostly an effort to improve his political standing. He was going to lose his next election and needed to go to extreme measures to try to ensure victory. As Arthur Herman, the author of Reexamining the Life & Legacy of America’s Most Hated Senator stated in an interview, “He was a politician first. Everything else second and third. As an investigator, as an anticommunist and someone who's looking for spies and subversives, those things were always secondary in his mind to what his real goal was -- which was the goal of any politician-- to gain power and...