With the announcement today that the Republican National Committee was going to try to add a guideline in January to stand up against "Obama's 'socialist' agenda" (source: http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2009/11/23/rnc-socialist-resolution-returns..., though when pressed on what exactly Obama's socialist agenda calls for all they typically come up with is everything, it got me to thinking about another instance of politicians playing into a false fear to prop themselves up and that was McCarthyism.
McCartyism officially started on February 9, 1950 when Joseph McCarthy gave a speech in which he presented a piece of paper claiming to have names of confessed Communists working inside the government. McCarthyism ended four years later when McCarthy was censured and him losing his chairmanship. The result of the four years was minuscule at best. The only people seemingly affected by the witch hunt were from Hollywood. One of the most affected was Charlie Chaplin who was one of the great silent film actors of all time was blacklisted. He only had one movie after his blacklisting in 1967.
But the point to all of this is that when you actually get down to the facts on this whole thing, McCarthyism was nothing but a red herring. It was ruse cooked up by McCarthy to get his name in the public spotlight. The only people he went after were political enemies of his.
The American Communist Party, which was being run by the Cominterm (a political body in the Soviet Union) didn't have a single member ever brought before McCarthy.
In fact, when truly observed the only places that seemed to really care about McCarthy or to be affected by it were either in Washington or Hollywood. The majority of Americans were not affected by McCarthyism one bit.
In the end, this was nothing but a political ploy at fear mongering that ended up ruining the life of the man that started the whole thing, Joseph McCarthy.
With the guideline that conservatives are trying to get inserted in the NRC, they threaten to alienate even more of the moderate Republicans and thus continuing the marginalization of the Republican Party. Republicans may very well win seats back in 2010 but as long as there is a serious rift between moderate Republicans and conservative Republicans we may very well see two serious right of center candidates for president. One thing that history has taught us about three presidential candidates and two of them having similar beliefs is that the third candidate typically wins.