What impact did Joseph McCarthy have on domestic politics in the USA?

Essay by KeirHigh School, 11th grade October 2005

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Joseph McCarthy was one of the most notorious senators throughout the USA's history. He spread the wave of anti-communist feeling through the USA, which was caused by the Americans' fear of the Soviets. However his success was built on the accumulating of the scary espionages to the American, for example, the ring of atomic secrets that would be passed to the USSR. The most infamous deed McCarthy renowned for was the "205 names list" in the Women's Republican Club in 1950, "It was the beginning of a personal witch hunt for communists in the government that lasted for more than five years"1 It surely had a rather big impact on domestic politics in the US during the second "Red Scare" on the American fundamental policy, elections, and the way they treated Chinese- Americans.

Due to McCarthy's ridiculous but successful propaganda campaign, the most fundamental US policy was ignored, which was freedom, for example, freedom of speech.

In February 1950, after McCarthy claimed "The State Department is infested with Communists. I have here in my hand a list of 205--a list of names that were known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy."2, the Americans were terrified and the witch-hunt was widely spread. When McCarthy gave his speech in 1950, East Europe (1945-49) and China (1949) had already fallen into Communism, seeing the trend of the spreading of the Communism, people were afraid that it was going to take over the World. Especially, after the cases of Alger Hiss, Ethel Rosenberg's 'treason,' and the USA losing its monopoly in nuclear weapons to the Soviets in 1949. House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) began the biggest witch-hunts ever, and "summoned 2,375 men and women, which was enough to...