The Intellectuals and McCarthy: The Radical Specter

By Michael Paul Rogin | Go to book overview
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It is possible in Wisconsin to test two propositions by which the pluralists seek to connect McCarthyism to agrarian radicalism. Both propositions interpret McCarthyism as a mass phenomenon. But the evidence from county voting behavior suggests that McCarthyism was not a radical movement outside of normal American political processes. The first proposition is that both La Follette and Mc- Carthy mobilized a similar lower-middle-class stratum of the population, particularly sensitive to irrational appeals. Here we must find a relationship between the support obtained by the two political leaders. Pluralists charge that a common ethnic base produced a common concern with status grievances. The evidence points to different ethnic bases and to progressive economic preoccupations contrasting with McCarthy's foreign policy concerns and traditional conservative appeals. Pluralists find McCarthyite roots in the economically dispossessed classes that supported agrarian radicalism. The evidence points to largely contrasting economic bases for La Follette and McCarthy.

The pluralists' second assertion is that both McCarthy and La Follette split apart existing coalitions and upset the group basis of politics. Here we must find that McCarthy and La


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