This week in 1954, the U.S. Senate voted 67 to 22 in favor to “condemn” paranoid, communist-hunting Senator Joseph McCarthy for “conduct that tends to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute.”
Because the resolution used the seemingly unenforceable term condemn rather than censure, McCarthy’s supporters on the Senate floor erupted into laughter. Within moments, McCarthy pledged to go on with his witch hunt – one that had already ruined scores of American lives and humiliated our nation.
In typical American fashion, after months of work, Congress failed to correct a situation that Congress itself created.
And in typical fashion, it was one lone, brave American who, ultimately, picked up the shovel that was going to put McCarthyism in its rightful grave: Joseph Welch.
Joseph Welch was an attorney who just got too damn sick and tired of the madness when McCarthy set out to destroy the life of an employee at his law firm. And this impromptu denunciation of McCarthy changed the course of history in ways that no politician ever could:
Sometimes, it only takes one voice to start a chorus. So start singing.