James Earl Carter was born nearly 100 years ago. He was elected the 39th president of the United States nearly 50 years ago. Many people have labeled the 39th president the ‘greatest former president’ in American history because of his commitment to peace, reconciliation and charitable causes. Implicit in the praise is a premise that President Carter’s presidency was a failure, overwhelmed by inflation, interest rates and the Iranian hostage crisis.
One thing is abundantly clear, the American people “can’t handle the truth”.
We scream about it beg for it and swear up and down that “all hell will break loose” until we get it.
So when the first President after FDR who has the integrity and humility to gives it to us, we choke. He’s labeled a “weakling” and a freak not because he’s wrong but because we simply can’t look inward and accept the truth we claim we need.
I wish you mentioned that Ronald Regan --aka the republicans capitalized on the forces of the dark soul for power.
That Regan even interfered with the hostages coming home, so like a movie character he could be the hero.
Republicans then were willing to destroy what was good, what was truth for power.
IT. WAS . ALL. A. LIE.
When is this corruption going to be called out???
I was coming into grad school when he gave that speech. I remember every part of it and thinking, there is the mirror and citizens of the US are going to break it.
Thank you for the positive words on President Carter and sharing his speech to the Nation. I was a tween at the time and recall how my late parents thought the world of him, irregardless of what the neighbors thought. He has shown what true dignity is. He left office with the intention of helping his fellow American, and followed through. Unlike some of the presidents who followed in the Republican Party.
Hear, hear. I had the privilege of meeting and working with President Carter on Habitat for Humanity builds in Georgia and Baja California. I was on assignment from my magazine to write about HFH. He was unlike any other politician I had ever covered. Carter was quiet, focused, and spoke only about the importance of the mission of building homes, a mission that totally absorbed him, in serious tones. No glad-handing. No glittering turns of phrase. No politicking or PR smiles. He was in that moment a quiet and determined carpenter and, man, that was impressive.
The measure of a person is what they have done and what they leave as a legacy. What we see with President Carter is one faithful to his God, faithful to his wife and family, faithful to his Country and his Oath of Office. What he did with his life after his term in office is remarkable for its focus on the good of the world and those around him. Leadership by example. May that Servant Leadership stay with us.
Beautiful history on President Carter.
God bless President Jimmy Carter and FL Rosalyn.
M the night that Jimmy Carter lost the election, I was caring for the grandchildren of Donald Regan. The Regans had gathered in anticipation of a Reagan win, and so I needed to cry privately. Within hours, I got the word to expect Secret Service presence in anticipation of Don Regans return. Of course there was great jubilation because they knew Regan had been selected to become Secy of State. Being gracious in my grief was not easy. I went to my room and wrote my grief out in a letter to Jimmy Carter. Amazingly, he replied. I cried then and I cry today reading this article.
It appears to me that President Carter perceived the future. These words from his speech have manifested: “We are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One is a path I've warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. It is a certain route to failure.” Prophetic? Possibly. He was powerless to the wheel of fortune that was turning. Though he tried to hold it back that wheel rolled over him and here we are today at the end of that path with the help of his successor President Reagan, and the other conservatives who followed caring only about $$$$$$$$$$$
Godspeed, indeed. President Carter can depart this mortal coil knowing he gave his entire life to the service of others over service of self. He was the first POTUS I ever supported as my political awareness came into being as a 7 year old watching the Nixon debacle & hearing the heated political discussions at the dinner table & at holiday gatherings. My father was the lone Republican of the group back in those days and he typified the men of his generation on whom the character Archie Bunker was based. We moved to a new house in 1972, & the mortgage rate was 12%. I gave my first “political speech” at age 8 supporting Jimmy Carter, the peanut farmer from Georgia. Americans were pissed when Carter told us to “put on a sweater” rather than raise the heat. There were long lines to buy gas. Then, our chickens came home to roost in Iran & the hostage crisis foreclosed any hope of a 2nd term for Carter. He was in a no-win situation.
If I were Catholic, I would put Carter up for sainthood.
It was the perfect analysis of a great human being who led us from two significant positions:
1. As the elected and sworn in President of our nation where his accomplishments were minimal for many reasons most of which were not by his faults.
2. He led the American peoples, of all colors, races and religions, by his very strong human characteristics. This leadership is what defines him and what we need even more at this time in our history.
God bless you Jimmy Carter and "Peace be with you"!
Thank you, thank you, thank you for this, Steve. For a “political consultant,” you can sure write! This was eloquent, heartfelt and powerful.
My first vote as a 19 year in 1972 was for Richard Nixon. I grew up a Baptist in a small Texas town. It was very similar in size to Plains, Georgia where the Baptist Jimmy Carter grew up. I guess as a very young person I thought that voting for Nixon was the “conservative” vote. I came to regret it almost immediately.
I voted for Jimmy Carter twice, in both 1976 and yes 1980 against the conservative savior, Ronald Reagan. I have never regretted those votes in the almost 50 years since.
I remembered little of that “terrible” speech of his. Thanks for sharing it. It was both good and right. As a Christian, he embodies what a Christ follower should look like to as great a degree as any human being can.
The absolute moral bankruptcy of the main evangelical community in America today breaks my heart and brings shame and dishonor on our faith.
Thank you for shining a light so beautifully on the life and legacy of Jimmy Carter.
One of the many polar contrasts between this epic address and DJT's nomination acceptance speech and his inaugural one is that James Earl Carter spoke from his heart out of love for every American and institution of government, from a belief that our nation can be saved by the people. No self-serving motive. No attempt to manipulate. Thank you Mr. President. May your words resonate at this very challenging time... may they be heard and heeded.
Jimmy Carter ran his life's race well. He tried to govern according to his faith. He loved God and his neighbor, in all the places where he found them. He was a voice for peace and for the ordinary person. He spoke the truth as he understood it to be. I am proud to have voted for him twice. May your family hear the angels sing your welcome home song.
Thank you Steve for this beautiful piece about Jimmy Carter. It made me weep, as your words often do. This time, I wept for our poor country and the intensification of all of the pain and problems that Mr. Carter spoke of so eloquently and lovingly all those years ago and yet, we are still in pain and it only gets worse. He is a remarkable, gifted man; a truly spiritual man and we shall not see his likes again.
Thank you, Steve, for this moving tribute to a great statesman and finer human.
My first introduction to politics was the Carter campaign. My mother, who just passed, was a volunteer for President Carter’s campaign. She was also a faithful poll worker for decades. I think of her every time I hear the terrible stories of attacks on every day Americans who simply want to do their civic duty. President Carter inspired her and my family to serve and try to improve this world. One of my priceless possessions is a photograph of mom holding my younger sister, while President Jimmy Carter smiles that fantastic smile. Godspeed and blessings, Mr. President. Our nation didn’t deserve you.
I wanted to have an insightful response - but literally, I just cried. I have always been a Jimmy Carter (fan just doesn’t sound right!) - Reader. I own and re-read all his books.
My parents and I share his birthday - it is one of the most common birthdays on earth - it means you were conceived between Christmas and New Year’s. Because of that - our whole family became committed to his campaign, Presidency, and supported the work of Habitat for Humanity and the Carter Center.
His age, illness, and ultimately his passing have me grieving as if I am losing my Parents again.
This man was always ahead of our time. There are human “touchstones” (my family call it our “List”) - people whose mere presence make the World better: The Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, George Harrison…. When these people pass, the World is made darker, somehow. New people may rise up to fill the gaps, but more often than not- the World is just less….
May his name be a Blessing.