The McCarthy Era:  Déjà vu for the Republican Party



            By Rabbi Barry Silver November 21, 2022


In the 1950’s the Republican Party was hijacked by a fascist, xenophobic demagogue who portrayed himself as the ultimate savior of America. He vilified his opponents and the media as enemies of the State, waged war against the Democratic Party and its liberals, internationalists and socialists, code words for “the Jews”, and gained support from racists and anti-Semites across America.   


Today’s Republican Party has learned nothing from its flirtation with fascism under Joe McCarthy, and now led by another McCarthy, this time, Kevin, has embraced another fascist, Donald Trump who also whips up hate, anti-Semitism and nationalism to control the masses.  Trump even emulated Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch, with an attempted violent take-over of our government, and like Hitler, has so far evaded serious punishment for this egregious offense.


Under the banner of “America First”, the rallying cry of neo-Nazis in America in the 1930s who allied with Hitler and tried to keep America out of WWII, Trump equates loyalty to him with loyalty to our country. “America First” is the American equivalent to “Deutschland Uber Alles” and conveys Trump’s goal of purging from power his enemies, i.e. those who refuse to genuflect to his psychopathology, so he can end democracy and establish himself as ruler for life. By wrapping itself in the flag and pseudo-patriotism, the Republican Party is all too susceptible to this type of demagoguery.  


Like most fascists, Trump is anti-black, anti-immigrant, anti-minority and uses Christian nationalism and anti-Semitism to catapult him to power.  Sadly, as in the past, fascists can always find Jews and other targets of their hate, such as Herschel Walker and Alan Dershowitz, to be used and exploited, not by having a seat at the table, but by being tossed a few crumbs.  Most Jews lament the abandonment of Jewish ideals and values by the factually, reality and scientifically challenged Orthodox, who are easily swayed by blind allegiance to authority from the Torah, their rebbi, or the next charlatan to come along.  Many right-wing Jews have joined right-wing Christians in their perverse effort to dismantle the separation of church and state which is the greatest protection for Jews and other freedom-loving people.

A Jew joining Trump’s MAGA (“Mindless Anti-Government Anarchists”) minions, who seek to impose a theocratic tyranny in America, which harms Jews first and then everyone else, makes as much sense as a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders. 


At an inflection point in history, when Joe McCarthy made a particularly vile accusation against an innocent person, one of his colleagues exclaimed, “Have you no sense of decency?”  Suddenly, the curtain was pulled back on Joe McCarthy and even his former acolytes could see him for the charlatan he was.  Today, ironically, with a man named Oz, the curtain was pulled back on the Wizard of Wickedness, as Trump was seen as a powerless “biggest loser” when his candidates fell short.  


In the 1950s, it took years for the Republican Party to recover from the death grip of Joe McCarthy, after they finally repudiated him. Today’s Republicans have put up with Trump’s depravity and immorality for years, but may not forgive his greatest sin, losing power for their party.  


As in the 1950s, the Republican Party has created a monster, who like the legendary Frankenstein, went after its maker. The Republican Party today must decide whether it will renounce Trump and survive, or if it will continue to be devoured and devalued by the monster they have created and unleashed upon us all.  


As usual, Carl Sagan sheds light on the ability of the Republicans to move past Trumpism: “One of the saddest lessons of history is this. If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”



Rabbi Barry Silver is the only Rabbi to have served in the Florida Legislature where he was voted the most effective environmental legislator by the Sierra Club. He is the founder of Cosmic Judaism which merges religion and science and as a public interest attorney, representing his congregation, L’Dor Va-Dor and others, is suing Governor Ron DeSantis to overturn his anti-abortion law.  For more information see, or contact Rabbi Silver at





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