I believe that Trump administration policy and rhetoric have debased long-standing American values and have lowered the esteem that other nations have had toward the U.S. Our immigration policies have forgotten that our nation was built on immigrants; we have pursued international policy that has alienated long-term partner nations; we are engaging in a trade war that will harm workers in certain sectors of the U.S. economy; and we are pursuing policies that will degrade our environment. Perhaps most disturbing are both the misrepresentations of truth and the use of strong language and personal attacks aimed at those who disagree.

Sixty-eight years ago, Margaret Chase Smith, a junior senator from Maine, had the courage to be one of the first to speak out against Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Although she was focusing on Sen. McCarthy’s anti-communism tactics in addressing the Senate, her words in her June 1, 1950, “Declaration of Conscience” speech are prescient in their applicability to today:

“The United States Senate has long enjoyed worldwide respect as the greatest deliberative body in the world. But recently that deliberative character has too often been debased to the level of a forum of hate and character assassination sheltered by the shield of congressional immunity. …

“I think that it is high time for the United States Senate and its members to do some soul-searching – for us to weigh our consciences – on the manner in which we are performing our duty to the people of America – on the manner in which we are using or abusing our individual powers and privileges.”

Is there someone in Congress or another leader today who has the courage to speak on behalf of the pursuit of good public policy, not “good politics,” humanity and common decency toward others, as Sen. Chase Smith chose to do?

John Grew