Jimmy Carter

president of the United States from 1977 to 1981

James Earl Carter, Jr. (born 1 October 1924) is an American politician and member of the Democratic Party who served as the 39th president of the United States from 1977 to 1985. In 1982 he established the Carter Center, as a base for promoting human rights, democracy, finding peaceful solutions to international conflicts, and advancing economic and social development, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. He is a key figure in the Habitat for Humanity project, and has been noted for his criticism of Israel's role in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

I see an America on the move again, united, a diverse and vital and tolerant nation, entering our third century with pride and confidence, an America that lives up to the majesty of our Constitution and the simple decency of our people.
Human rights is the soul of our foreign policy, because human rights is the very soul of our sense of nationhood.


We should live our lives as though Christ were coming this afternoon.
A strong nation, like a strong person, can afford to be gentle, firm, thoughtful, and restrained. It can afford to extend a helping hand to others.


  • At the end of a long campaign, I believe I know the people of our state as well as anyone. Based on this knowledge of Georgians North and South, Rural and Urban, liberal and conservative, I say to you quite frankly that the time for racial discrimination is over.
    • Gubernatorial Inaugural Address (12 January 1971)
  • We should live our lives as though Christ were coming this afternoon.
    • Addressing a Bible class in Plains, Georgia (March 1976), as quoted in Boston Sunday Herald Advertiser (11 April 1976)
  • I have nothing against a community that is made up of people who are Polish, or who are Czechoslovakians, or who are French Canadians or who are blacks trying to maintain the ethnic purity of their neighborhoods. This is a natural inclination. … Government should not break up a neighborhood on a numerical basis. As soon as the Government does, the white folks flee.
  • I've looked on many women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times. This is something that God recognizes I will do — and I have done it — and God forgives me for it."
    • Interview in Playboy magazine (1976), while a candidate for President.
  • Sometimes we try to justify this unsavory business on the cynical ground that by rationing out the means of violence we can somehow control the world’s violence. The fact is that we cannot have it both ways. Can we be both the world’s leading champion of peace and the world’s leading supplier of the weapons of war?
    • "A Community of the Free" address at The Foreign Policy Association NY, NY (23 June 1976); this is often paraphrased: We cannot be both the world’s leading champion of peace and the world’s leading supplier of the weapons of war.

First Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech (1976)Edit

First Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech (15 July 1976)
  • My name is Jimmy Carter, and I’m running for President.
    It’s been a long time since I said those words the first time, and now I’ve come here after seeing our great country to accept your nomination.
  • There is a new mood in America. We have been shaken by a tragic war abroad and by scandals and broken promises at home. Our people are searching for new voices and new ideas and new leaders.
    Although government has its limits and cannot solve all our problems, we Americans reject the view that we must be reconciled to failures and mediocrity, or to an inferior quality of life. For I believe that we can come through this time of trouble stronger than ever. Like troops who have been in combat, we have been tempered in the fire; we have been disciplined, and we have been educated.
    Guided by lasting and simple moral values, we have emerged idealists without illusions, realists who still know the old dreams of justice and liberty, of country and of community.
  • Any system of economics is bankrupt if it sees either value or virtue in unemployment. We simply cannot check inflation by keeping people out of work..
  • Our nation should always derive its character directly from the people and let this be the strength and the image to be presented to the world — the character of the American people.
    To our friends and allies I say that what unites us through our common dedication to democracy is much more important than that which occasionally divides us on economics or politics. To the nations that seek to lift themselves from poverty I say that America shares your aspirations and extends its hand to you. To those nation-states that wish to compete with us I say that we neither fear competition nor see it as an obstacle to wider cooperation. To all people I say that after two hundred years America still remains confident and youthful in its commitment to freedom and equality, and we always will be.
  • I see an America on the move again, united, a diverse and vital and tolerant nation, entering our third century with pride and confidence, an America that lives up to the majesty of our Constitution and the simple decency of our people.
    This is the America we want. This is the America that we will have.

Presidency (1977–1985)Edit

Being confident of our own future, we are now free of that inordinate fear of communism which once led us to embrace any dictator who joined us in that fear. I’m glad that that’s being changed.
We hope someday, having solved the problems we face, to join a community of galactic civilizations. This record represents our hope and our determination, and our good will in a vast and awesome universe.
Our pursuit of human rights is part of a broad effort to use our great power and our tremendous influence in the service of creating a better world, a world in which human beings can live in peace, in freedom, and with their basic needs adequately met.


  • The destruction was mutual. We went to Vietnam without any desire to capture territory or impose American will on other people. I don't feel that we ought to apologize or castigate ourselves or to assume the status of culpability.
    • Statement quoted in the Los Angeles Times (25 March 1977)
  • Democracy’s great recent successes — in India, Portugal, Spain, Greece — show that our confidence in this system is not misplaced. Being confident of our own future, we are now free of that inordinate fear of communism which once led us to embrace any dictator who joined us in that fear. I’m glad that that’s being changed.
    For too many years, we’ve been willing to adopt the flawed and erroneous principles and tactics of our adversaries, sometimes abandoning our own values for theirs. We’ve fought fire with fire, never thinking that fire is better quenched with water. This approach failed, with Vietnam the best example of its intellectual and moral poverty. But through failure we have now found our way back to our own principles and values, and we have regained our lost confidence.
  • Penalties against drug use should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against the possession of marijuana in private for personal use.
    • Message to Congress (2 August 1977)
  • We cast this message into the cosmos. It is likely to survive a billion years into our future, when our civilization is profoundly altered and the surface of the Earth may be vastly changed. Of the 200 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, some — perhaps many – may have inhabited planets and spacefaring civilizations. If one such civilization intercepts Voyager and can understand these recorded contents, here is our message:
This is a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours. We hope someday, having solved the problems we face, to join a community of galactic civilizations. This record represents our hope and our determination, and our good will in a vast and awesome universe.
Inaugural Address (1977)Edit
For myself and for our Nation, I want to thank my predecessor for all he has done to heal our land.
In this outward and physical ceremony we attest once again to the inner and spiritual strength of our Nation.
Jimmy Carter's Inaugural Address (January 20, 1977)
We are a strong nation, and we will maintain strength so sufficient that it need not be proven in combat – a quiet strength based not merely on the size of an arsenal, but on the nobility of ideas.
  • For myself and for our Nation, I want to thank my predecessor for all he has done to heal our land.
    In this outward and physical ceremony we attest once again to the inner and spiritual strength of our Nation.
  • Ours was the first society openly to define itself in terms of both spirituality and of human liberty. It is that unique self-definition which has given us an exceptional appeal, but it also imposes on us a special obligation, to take on those moral duties which, when assumed, seem invariably to be in our own best interests.
  • Let us learn together and laugh together and work together and pray together, confident that in the end we will triumph together in the right.
  • We have already found a high degree of personal liberty, and we are now struggling to enhance equality of opportunity. Our commitment to human rights must be absolute, our laws fair, our natural beauty preserved; the powerful must not persecute the weak, and human dignity must be enhanced.
  • To be true to ourselves, we must be true to others. We will not behave in foreign places so as to violate our rules and standards here at home, for we know that the trust which our Nation earns is essential to our strength.
  • The world itself is now dominated by a new spirit. Peoples more numerous and more politically aware are craving and now demanding their place in the sun – not just for the benefit of their own physical condition, but for basic human rights.
    The passion for freedom is on the rise. Tapping this new spirit, there can be no nobler nor more ambitious task for America to undertake on this day of a new beginning than to help shape a just and peaceful world that is truly humane.
    We are a strong nation, and we will maintain strength so sufficient that it need not be proven in combat – a quiet strength based not merely on the size of an arsenal, but on the nobility of ideas.
    We will be ever vigilant and never vulnerable, and we will fight our wars against poverty, ignorance, and injustice – for those are the enemies against which our forces can be honorably marshaled.

    We are a purely idealistic Nation, but let no one confuse our idealism with weakness.
    Because we are free we can never be indifferent to the fate of freedom elsewhere. Our moral sense dictates a clearcut preference for these societies which share with us an abiding respect for individual human rights. We do not seek to intimidate, but it is clear that a world which others can dominate with impunity would be inhospitable to decency and a threat to the well-being of all people.


  • The reason for raising this is that the Israeli position in the past was that they would withdraw from the West Bank, and I believe that Prime Minister Begin left the Cabinet over this issue.
  • We believe in the right of every country to be free from interference in its own internal affairs by another country. And we believe that world peace can come — which we both devoutly hope to see — through mutual respect, even among those who have some differences between us.
    Our goals are also the same, to have a just system of economics and politics, to let the people of the world share in growth, in peace, in personal freedom, and in the benefits to be derived from the proper utilization of natural resources. We believe in enhancing human rights. We believe that we should enhance, as independent nations, the freedom of our own people.
    • Welcoming ceremony for Nicolae Ceauşescu of Romania (12 April 1978), Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Jimmy Carter, 1978 Book 1: January 1 to June 30, 1978, p. 735
  • We have the heaviest concentration of lawyers on Earthone for every five-hundred Americans; three times as many as are in England, four times as many as are in West Germany, twenty-one times as many as there are in Japan. We have more litigation, but I am not sure that we have more justice. No resources of talent and training in our own society, even including the medical care, is more wastefully or unfairly distributed than legal skills. Ninety percent of our lawyers serve 10 percent of our people. We are over-lawyered and under-represented.
    • Remarks at the 100th Anniversary Luncheon of the Los Angeles County Bar Association (4 May 1978)
  • I want to stress again that human rights are not peripheral to the foreign policy of the United States. Our pursuit of human rights is part of a broad effort to use our great power and our tremendous influence in the service of creating a better world, a world in which human beings can live in peace, in freedom, and with their basic needs adequately met.
    • Remarks at a White House meeting commemorating the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (6 December 1978), Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Jimmy Carter, 1978 Book 1: January 1 to June 30, 1978, p. 2163
  • Human rights is the soul of our foreign policy, because human rights is the very soul of our sense of nationhood.
    • Remarks at a White House meeting commemorating the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (6 December 1978), Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Jimmy Carter, 1978 Book 1: January 1 to June 30, 1978, p. 2164


  • We face this choice from a position of strength as the strongest nation on earth, economically, militarily and politically. Our alliances are firm and reliable. Our military forces are strong and ready. Our economic power is unmatched.[1]
  • Along with other industrial democracies who are our friends, we lead the way in technological innovation. Our combined economies are more than three times as productive as those Of the Soviet Union and all its allies. Our political institutions are based on human freedom. Our open system encourages individual initiative and creativity, and that in turn strengthens our entire society.[2]
  • Our values and our democratic way of life have a magnetic appeal for people all over the world which a materialistic and a totalitarian philosophy can never hope to challenge or to rival. For all these reasons we have a capacity for leadership in the world that surpasses that of any other nation. That leadership imposes many responsibilities on, us, on me, as President, and on you other leaders who shape opinion and the character of our country.[3]
  • In the year 2000 this solar water heater behind me, which is being dedicated today, will still be here supplying cheap, efficient energy…. A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken or it can be just a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people.
  • I thought a lot about our Nation and what I should do as President. And Sunday night before last, I made a speech about two problems of our country — energy and malaise.
    • Remarks at a town meeting, Bardstown, Kentucky (31 July 1979), referring to his The Crisis of Confidence address (he did not actually use the word "malaise" in that earlier speech), Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Jimmy Carter, 1979, Book 2, p. 1340
  • History teaches, perhaps, very few clear lessons. But surely one such lesson learned by the world at great cost is that aggression, unopposed, becomes a contagious disease.
  • A party with a narrow vision, a party that is afraid of the future, a party whose leaders are inclined to shoot from the hip, a party that has never been willing to put its investment in human beings who are below them in economic and social status.
The Crisis of ConfidenceEdit
The Crisis of Confidence (July 15, 1979)
  • I know, of course, being President, that government actions and legislation can be very important. That's why I've worked hard to put my campaign promises into law — and I have to admit, with just mixed success. But after listening to the American people I have been reminded again that all the legislation in the world can't fix what's wrong with America. So, I want to speak to you first tonight about a subject even more serious than energy or inflation. I want to talk to you right now about a fundamental threat to American democracy.
    I do not mean our political and civil liberties. They will endure. And I do not refer to the outward strength of America, a nation that is at peace tonight everywhere in the world, with unmatched economic power and military might.
    The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our Nation.
    The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America.
    The confidence that we have always had as a people is not simply some romantic dream or a proverb in a dusty book that we read just on the Fourth of July.
    It is the idea which founded our Nation and has guided our development as a people. Confidence in the future has supported everything else — public institutions and private enterprise, our own families, and the very Constitution of the United States. Confidence has defined our course and has served as a link between generations. We've always believed in something called progress. We've always had a faith that the days of our children would be better than our own.
    Our people are losing that faith, not only in government itself but in the ability as citizens to serve as the ultimate rulers and shapers of our democracy. As a people we know our past and we are proud of it. Our progress has been part of the living history of America, even the world. We always believed that we were part of a great movement of humanity itself called democracy, involved in the search for freedom, and that belief has always strengthened us in our purpose. But just as we are losing our confidence in the future, we are also beginning to close the door on our past.
  • In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we've discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We've learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.
    The symptoms of this crisis of the American spirit are all around us. For the first time in the history of our country a majority of our people believe that the next 5 years will be worse than the past 5 years. Two-thirds of our people do not even vote. The productivity of American workers is actually dropping, and the willingness of Americans to save for the future has fallen below that of all other people in the Western world.
    As you know, there is a growing disrespect for government and for churches and for schools, the news media, and other institutions. This is not a message of happiness or reassurance, but it is the truth and it is a warning.
    These changes did not happen overnight. They've come upon us gradually over the last generation, years that were filled with shocks and tragedy.
    We were sure that ours was a nation of the ballot, not the bullet, until the murders of John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. We were taught that our armies were always invincible and our causes were always just, only to suffer the agony of Vietnam. We respected the Presidency as a place of honor until the shock of Watergate.
  • We know the strength of America. We are strong. We can regain our unity. We can regain our confidence. We are the heirs of generations who survived threats much more powerful and awesome than those that challenge us now. Our fathers and mothers were strong men and women who shaped a new society during the Great Depression, who fought world wars, and who carved out a new charter of peace for the world.
    We ourselves are the same Americans who just 10 years ago put a man on the Moon. We are the generation that dedicated our society to the pursuit of human rights and equality. And we are the generation that will win the war on the energy problem and in that process rebuild the unity and confidence of America.
    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.
    All the traditions of our past, all the lessons of our heritage, all the promises of our future point to another path, the path of common purpose and the restoration of American values. That path leads to true freedom for our Nation and ourselves. We can take the first steps down that path as we begin to solve our energy problem.
    Energy will be the immediate test of our ability to unite this Nation, and it can also be the standard around which we rally. On the battlefield of energy we can win for our Nation a new confidence, and we can seize control again of our common destiny.


Democratic Victory Fund BarbecueEdit
President Carter's remarks at the Democratic Victory Fund Barbecue. (October 21, 1980). Source: Orlando, Florida Remarks at the 1980 Democratic Victory Fund Barbecue, The American Presidency Project.
  • I'll never forget what Florida did for me in 1976. As I told a small group a few minutes ago, we came to your State, our neighbors, when I didn't have any friends in this country, very few people knew who I was or had ever heard of me. And we went from one courthouse to another and one small radio station to another, one of your homes to another, met with just a few friends, visited in your churches, in your Lion's Clubs, in your schools, talked to you, and learned and listened. I went in one direction; my wife went in another. And that was the basis for my success later on in 1976. The contest here in your primary, I think, was the turning point in the entire election. It focused attention not only on you Floridians and your judgment but also on the fact that my campaign did have some strength. It made a great impact on the rest of the Nation. 1976 in the primary was a very gratifying gift that Florida people made to me. Later it was generally assumed that Florida, because of some of your past voting mistakes, might go Republican in November. But when the returns came in, the Florida electors went to Jimmy Carter and to Fritz Mondale. That was in '76 in November.
  • Again this year, if you remember back in November, it was generally thought throughout the country that if Senator Kennedy announced that he was a candidate for President that Florida would certainly go for him. We campaigned down here among you. You had confidence in me again. When the returns came in, you were in my column. I'm a southerner, and I believe in tradition. You've established a good tradition of supporting Jimmy Carter for President. I want you to help me again on November the 4th. Okay?
  • There are a few things that I want to mention to you. You've been very gracious and very generous to come out here today to meet with me. As we approach the last few days of the campaign there are some memories that ought to be impressed on our minds. I grew up not far from the Florida line on a farm. I was born in 1924. When the Great Depression came, I was a young, impressionable man, a boy. I remember what Franklin Roosevelt and the Democratic Party did to change my life and the life of my family. We didn't have running water in our house. We didn't have electricity. The Democrats thought that REA would be good for farmers; the Republicans were against it. They called it socialism for the Federal Government to help build dams and generate electricity for farmers. There were a lot of sweatshops in our country, and young people about Amy's age, 13 years old and younger, boys and girls, were working under uncontrollable and embarrassing conditions. Working families didn't have a right to earn a decent living to finance their homes. And the Democrats proposed a minimum wage, 25 cents an hour; the Republicans opposed it. The Democrats finally prevailed and gave working people of this Nation a better life. I graduated from high school in 1941, my first job at a minimum wage, 40 cents by then. That increase from 25 to 40 cents was a great thing in our lives. Democrats sponsored it; Republicans, they were against it. Democrats saw that older people were living in poor folks homes, we called them, without any self-dignity, without any security, having slaved away all their lives to make this a better country. So, the Democrats said, "We need something to give that security to older people," and put forward the idea of social security; Republicans were against it. Social security passed. Later, I won't go into all the details, but Democrats, again, put forward Medicare to give older people a chance to have a better health care after their retirement age. My opponent, Governor Reagan, got his start in politics working for the American Medical Association, traveling around this country speaking against Medicare.
  • You might say minimum wage is ancient history, but he says the minimum wage has caused more misery and more unemployment than anything since the Great Depression. Democrats have always been interested in people that were temporarily out of work and need a way, during those trying times, to feed their families, to keep their children in school. Unemployment compensation was devised by Democrats. Recently, my opponent said that unemployment compensation was just a prepaid vacation for freeloaders. This general sense, that started in the 1930's or before and has come all the way up to this time, to modern days, separates one party from another. I've had major responsibilities on my shoulders as a President to honor your expectations to keep our Nation as you want it.
  • The 13 years before I became President, under two Republican administrations, spending for defense went down 7 of those years. Defense budgets went down 37 percent the 8 years before I went into the Oval Office. Since then, we've had a steady increase, predictable increase, sound increase every year in defense expenditures. I don't have any apology to make for it. I'm a military man. My background is as a naval officer. I was a submarine Officer, as some of you know. And I believe that the best way to keep our Nation at peace is to keep it militarily strong. As long as I'm in the White House, we're going to do that.
  • Those of you who are deeply committed to peace, don't worry about that, about military strength. Our weapons, our military forces, men and women, will never be excelled by any other nation on Earth. We're in the cutting edge of progress. And our strategic nuclear weapons and our conventional weapons, our Navy, our men and women, are strong, and they're going to stay strong. But an airplane doesn't fly on just one wing. With that powerful military strength, you've got to have two more things. One is a commitment to arms control, because we don't want to have a nuclear arms race in this world. Every President since Harry Truman has insisted upon balanced, equivalently equal, controlled, observable arms control treaties. Recently, as you know, my opponent said, let's throw the arms control treaty in the trash, and let's start an arms race or threaten an arms race against the Soviet Union, to play a trump card against them. That's a radical departure from what all Presidents have done, Democratic and Republican, since the Second World War. It's important to us as a nation, it's important to our allies and friends, like Israel and the Middle East, to make sure that Iraq and other countries of a radical nature do not have military weapons that are nuclear explosives. We've had a very strong nonproliferation policy under Democrats and Republicans, but Governor Reagan says that nonproliferation is none of our business. The issues are clearly drawn, not only about the past and present but also about the future. We now have a sound energy policy to give us a basis on which to revitalize American industry, to have modern tools and modern plants for American workers, to put all our people to work; to have better health care for our citizens, more preventive health care, catastrophic health insurance, better care for pregnant women and little babies, better care for elderly citizens, more outpatient care rather than inpatient, the holding down of hospital costs. These changes in our health program can be implemented with a national health insurance plan. I'm for it, Democrats are for it; Governor Reagan's against it.
  • And the last two points I want to make are these. My background since I got out of the Navy has been as a farmer. I'm very proud that you have given me some good, well-trained Florida leaders to come and help me. Reubin Askew is one of the best public servants I've ever known, and he's our Special Trade Representative. Since he's been there, we've made remarkable progress. This year we'll have $40 billion worth of American agricultural products sold overseas. That's an $8 billion increase over last year, and 1979 set world records. 1978 set world records. 1977 set world records. Another man you've given me is Jim Williams. We will have these first 3 years, with the help of him and others, the highest gross income and the highest net income for farmers in our Nation's history. We've made good progress in getting Government's nose out of the private affairs of American citizens. We've deregulated the airlines, the railroads, the financial institutions, trucking, working on communications. And those of you who live in the Orlando area know that airline deregulation has been good for you. Before it took place, there were 4 flights coming in here; now 15. That increase has been very good for the entire country. It's put the competition back in the free enterprise system, let our Government work like it ought to.
  • And finally, let me remind you about the importance of you as an American citizen. Your coming here and contributing financially is very beneficial to us. We couldn't get along without it. We've been counting on you, and you haven't disappointed us. Richard Swann's done a superb job, and all of you've joined in. But I'd like to remind you that that's not enough. If you believe in the greatness of our Nation, if you believe in the principles of our party, if you believe in the importance of democracy and the partnership that must exist between the White House, the Oval Office, the President, and you personally, if you care about your own family and the people that you love outside your family, I'd like for you this next 10 days to work as hard as you've ever worked before to try to shape this election so that we can be victorious.
  • You might say one person can't make much difference. I remember in 1960 if 28,000 people had changed their votes in Texas and a few thousand in Illinois, John Kennedy would never have been President. In 1968 if all of the people assembled here and a few like you around the country had had the confidence in the Democratic candidate to go out and work hard for him, Richard Nixon would never have served in the White House, and we would have had a great Democratic President, Hubert Humphrey, to carry on the principles that I've described to you. But when you think back on Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Johnson, Kennedy, those memories, for working people, for people who believe in a strong defense and for peace, for people who believe in a brighter future for our country, better education for our children, self-respect for the elderly, dignity for those who are black or who don't speak English well, but might speak Spanish, are very important. And our country has taken the leadership in recent years in trying to bring peace not only to our own Nation but to others. I've been proud to represent you in negotiating with President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin to bring peace to Israel. And I see this not just as an achievement for Israel, to make sure that they are secure and strong and democratic and free and at peace, but that investment there by the people of our Nation, with me as your leader, has given our own Nation more stability, more security, more chance for freedom and for peace, and has stabilized a very troubled area of the world. These kind of strategic common relationships that bind us together with foreign countries are important to us all. I'm grateful to you for what you mean to me in the past and in the present, and I'm even more grateful for what you're going to mean to me 2 weeks from now when you have helped to elect me and Fritz Mondale to another term in office.


  • With the possible exception of my two predecessors, I know better than anyone how complicated and intransigent are some of the foreign policy questions that confront a President. [4]
Farewell Address (1981)Edit
America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense, it is the other way round. Human rights invented America.
The fundamental force that unites us is not kinship or place of origin or religious preference. The love of liberty is a common blood that flows in our American veins.
Farewell Address (January 14, 1981)
  • I am now more convinced than ever that the United States — better than any other nation — can meet successfully whatever the future might bring.
    These last four years have made me more certain than ever of the inner strength of our country — the unchanging value of our principles and ideals, the stability of our political system, the ingenuity and the decency of our people.
  • Within our system of government every American has a right and duty to help shape the future course of the United States.
    Thoughtful criticism and close scrutiny of all government officials by the press and the public are an important part of our democratic society. Now as in our past, only the understanding and involvement of the people through full and open debate can help to avoid serious mistakes and assure the continued dignity and safety of the nation.
In an all-out nuclear war, more destructive power than in all of World War II would be unleashed every second...more people killed in the first few hours than in all the wars of history put together.
  • In an all-out nuclear war, more destructive power than in all of World War II would be unleashed every second during the long afternoon it would take for all the missiles and bombs to fall. A World War II every second—more people killed in the first few hours than in all the wars of history put together. The survivors, if any, would live in despair amid the poisoned ruins of a civilization that had committed suicide.
  • Today we are asking our political system to do things of which the founding fathers never dreamed. The government they designed for a few hundred thousand people now serves a nation of almost 230 million people. Their small coastal republic now spans beyond a continent, and we now have the responsibility to help lead much of the world through difficult times to a secure and prosperous future.
    Today, as people have become ever more doubtful of the ability of the government to deal with our problems, we are increasingly drawn to single-issue groups and special interest organizations to ensure that whatever else happens our own personal views and our own private interests are protected.
    This is a disturbing factor in American political life. It tends to distort our purposes because the national interest is not always the sum of all our single or special interests. We are all Americans together — and we must not forget that the common good is our common interest and our individual responsibility.
  • National weakness — real or perceived — can tempt aggression and thus cause war. That's why the United States cannot neglect its military strength. We must and we will remain strong. But with equal determination, the United States and all countries must find ways to control and reduce the horrifying danger that is posed by the world's enormous stockpiles of nuclear arms.
    This has been a concern of every American president since the moment we first saw what these weapons could do. Our leaders will require our understanding and our support as they grapple with this difficult but crucial challenge. There is no disagreement on the goals or the basic approach to controlling this enormous destructive force. The answer lies not just in the attitudes or actions of world leaders, but in the concern and demands of all of us as we continue our struggle to preserve the peace.
  • Nuclear weapons are an expression of one side of our human character. But there is another side. The same rocket technology that delivers nuclear warheads has also taken us peacefully into space. From that perspective, we see our Earth as it really is — a small and fragile and beautiful blue globe, the only home we have. We see no barriers of race or religion or country. We see the essential unity of our species and our planet; and with faith and common sense, that bright vision will ultimately prevail.
    Another major challenge, therefore, is to protect the quality of this world within which we live. The shadows that fail across the future are cast not only by the kinds of weapons we have built, but by the kind of world we will either nourish or neglect.
  • Acknowledging the physical realities of our planet does not mean a dismal future of endless sacrifice. In fact, acknowledging these realities is the first step in dealing with them. We can meet the resource problems of the world — water, food, minerals, farmlands, forests, overpopulation, pollution — if we tackle them with courage and foresight.
  • I have just been talking about forces of potential destruction that mankind has developed, and how we might control them. It is equally important that we remember the beneficial forces that we have evolved over the ages, and how to hold fast to them.
    One of those constructive forces is enhancement of individual human freedoms through the strengthening of democracy, and the fight against deprivation, torture, terrorism and the persecution of people throughout the world. The struggle for human rights overrides all differences of color, nation or language.
    Those who hunger for freedom, who thirst for human dignity, and who suffer for the sake of justice — they are the patriots of this cause.
    I believe with all my heart that America must always stand for these basic human rights — at home and abroad. That is both our history and our destiny.
    America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense, it is the other way round. Human rights invented America.
    Ours was the first nation in the history of the world to be founded explicitly on such an idea.
    Our social and political progress has been based on one fundamental principle — the value and importance of the individual. The fundamental force that unites us is not kinship or place of origin or religious preference. The love of liberty is a common blood that flows in our American veins.
  • The battle for human rights — at home and abroad — is far from over. We should never be surprised nor discouraged because the impact of our efforts has had, and will always have, varied results. Rather, we should take pride that the ideals which gave birth to our nation still inspire the hopes of oppressed people around the world. We have no cause for self-righteousness or complacency. But we have every reason to persevere, both within our own country and beyond our borders.
    If we are to serve as a beacon for human rights, we must continue to perfect here at home the rights and values which we espouse around the world: A decent education for our children, adequate medical care for all Americans, an end to discrimination against minorities and women, a job for all those able to work, and freedom from injustice and religious intolerance.
  • We live in a time of transition, an uneasy era which is likely to endure for the rest of this century. During the period we may be tempted to abandon some of the time-honored principles and commitments which have been proven during the difficult times of past generations. We must never yield to this temptation. Our American values are not luxuries, but necessities— not the salt in our bread, but the bread itself.



  • Except during my childhood, when I was probably influenced by Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel depiction of God with a flowing white beard, I have never tried to project the Creator in any kind of human likeness. The vociferous debates about whether God is male or female seem ridiculous to me. I think of God as an omnipotent and omniscient presence, a spirit that permeates the universe, the essence of truth, nature, being, and life. To me, these are profound and indescribable concepts that seem to be trivialized when expressed in words.
    • Living Faith (2001), p. 222
  • The existing and long-standing use of the word 'evolution' in our state's textbooks has not adversely affected Georgians' belief in the omnipotence of God as creator of the universe, There can be no incompatibility between Christian faith and proven facts concerning geology, biology, and astronomy. There is no need to teach that stars can fall out of the sky and land on a flat Earth in order to defend our religious faith.
  • Iraq is an unjust war. I thought then, and I think now, that the invasion of Iraq was unnecessary and unjust. And I think the premises on which it was launched were false.
  • This war has been motivated by pride or arrogance, by a desire to control oil wealth, by a desire to implant our programs.
  • We are completely in bed with the Israelis to the detriment of the wellbeing of the Palestinians.
I can't deny I'm a better ex-president than I was a president.
  • Since I was 18 years old, I have taught the Bible. For the last fifteen or twenty years, I have taught every Sunday when I was home or near my own house, so that would be 35 or 40 times per year. Half of those Sundays, the text comes from the Hebrew Bible. I have had a deep personal interest in the Holy Land and in the teachings of the Hebrew people. God has a special position for the Jewish people, the Hebrews, or whatever. I know the difference between ancient Israel and Judaea, and I know the history. I don’t have any problem with the Jewish people.


  • I have become convinced that the most serious and unaddressed worldwide challenge is the deprivation and abuse of women and girls, largely caused by a false interpretation of carefully selected religious texts and a growing tolerance of violence and warfare.
    • A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power (2014)
  • I normalized diplomatic relations with China in 1979. Since 1979, do you know how many times China has been at war with anybody? None. And we have stayed at war. (Carter said the United States is) the most warlike nation in the history of the world... How many miles of high-speed railroad do we have in this country?... We have wasted, I think, $3 trillion (military spending) ... China has not wasted a single penny on war, and that's why they're ahead of us. In almost every way... And I think the difference is if you take $3 trillion and put it in American infrastructure, you'd probably have $2 trillion left over. We'd have high-speed railroad. We'd have bridges that aren't collapsing. We'd have roads that are maintained properly. Our education system would be as good as that of, say, South Korea or Hong Kong.... I wasn't comparing my country adversely to China... I was just pointing that out because I happened to get a phone call last night.
  • I still have complete confidence that the United States, if given time, will resolve its problems. We have always been able to do that in the past, whenever we faced difficult questions. The United States still has that innate strength.
    • As quoted in "Jimmy Carter says Trump re-election would be ‘a disaster’" by Ernie Suggs, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (September 18, 2019)

Nobel lecture (2002)Edit

The unchanging principles of life predate modern times
Lecture in Oslo, Norway (December 10, 2002), after receiving the Nobel peace prize.
The bond of our common humanity is stronger than the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices. God gives us the capacity for choice. We can choose to alleviate suffering. We can choose to work together for peace. We can make these changes — and we must.
  • Most Nobel Laureates have carried out our work in safety, but there are others who have acted with great personal courage. None has provided more vivid reminders of the dangers of peacemaking than two of my friends, Anwar Sadat and Yitzhak Rabin, who gave their lives for the cause of peace in the Middle East.
  • The world has changed greatly since I left the White House. Now there is only one superpower, with unprecedented military and economic strength. The coming budget for American armaments will be greater than those of the next fifteen nations combined, and there are troops from the United States in many countries throughout the world. Our gross national economy exceeds that of the three countries that follow us, and our nation's voice most often prevails as decisions are made concerning trade, humanitarian assistance, and the allocation of global wealth. This dominant status is unlikely to change in our lifetimes.
    Great American power and responsibility are not unprecedented, and have been used with restraint and great benefit in the past. We have not assumed that super strength guarantees super wisdom, and we have consistently reached out to the international community to ensure that our own power and influence are tempered by the best common judgment.
    Within our country, ultimate decisions are made through democratic means, which tend to moderate radical or ill-advised proposals. Constrained and inspired by historic constitutional principles, our nation has endeavored for more than two hundred years to follow the now almost universal ideals of freedom, human rights, and justice for all.
  • Ladies and gentlemen: Twelve years ago, President Mikhail Gorbachev received your recognition for his preeminent role in ending the Cold War that had lasted fifty years. But instead of entering a millennium of peace, the world is now, in many ways, a more dangerous place. The greater ease of travel and communication has not been matched by equal understanding and mutual respect. There is a plethora of civil wars, unrestrained by rules of the Geneva Convention, within which an overwhelming portion of the casualties are unarmed civilians who have no ability to defend themselves. And recent appalling acts of terrorism have reminded us that no nations, even superpowers, are invulnerable. It is clear that global challenges must be met with an emphasis on peace, in harmony with others, with strong alliances and international consensus.
  • I am not here as a public official, but as a citizen of a troubled world who finds hope in a growing consensus that the generally accepted goals of society are peace, freedom, human rights, environmental quality, the alleviation of suffering, and the rule of law.
  • The unchanging principles of life predate modern times. I worship Jesus Christ, whom we Christians consider to be the Prince of Peace. As a Jew, he taught us to cross religious boundaries, in service and in love. He repeatedly reached out and embraced Roman conquerors, other Gentiles, and even the more despised Samaritans.
    Despite theological differences, all great religions share common commitments that define our ideal secular relationships. I am convinced that Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, and others can embrace each other in a common effort to alleviate human suffering and to espouse peace.
    But the present era is a challenging and disturbing time for those whose lives are shaped by religious faith based on kindness toward each other. We have been reminded that cruel and inhuman acts can be derived from distorted theological beliefs, as suicide bombers take the lives of innocent human beings, draped falsely in the cloak of God's will. With horrible brutality, neighbors have massacred neighbors in Europe, Asia, and Africa.
    In order for us human beings to commit ourselves personally to the inhumanity of war, we find it necessary first to dehumanize our opponents, which is in itself a violation of the beliefs of all religions. Once we characterize our adversaries as beyond the scope of God's mercy and grace, their lives lose all value. We deny personal responsibility when we plant landmines and, days or years later, a stranger to us — often a child – is crippled or killed. From a great distance, we launch bombs or missiles with almost total impunity, and never want to know the number or identity of the victims.
  • The most serious and universal problem is the growing chasm between the richest and poorest people on earth. Citizens of the ten wealthiest countries are now seventy-five times richer than those who live in the ten poorest ones, and the separation is increasing every year, not only between nations but also within them.
  • Ladies and gentlemen: War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children.
  • The bond of our common humanity is stronger than the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices. God gives us the capacity for choice. We can choose to alleviate suffering. We can choose to work together for peace. We can make these changes — and we must.

DNC address (2004)Edit

Address to the Democratic National Convention (July 26, 2004)
  • My name is Jimmy Carter, and I'm not running for president.
  • As many of you may know, my first chosen career was in the United States Navy, where I served as a submarine officer. At that time, my shipmates and I were ready for combat and prepared to give our lives to defend our nation and its principles. At the same time, we always prayed that our readiness would preserve the peace.
    I served under two presidents, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, men who represented different political parties, both of whom had faced their active military responsibilities with honor.
    They knew the horrors of war. And later as commanders in chief, they exercised restraint and judgment, and they had a clear sense of mission.
    We had a confidence that our leaders, both military and civilian, would not put our soldiers and sailors in harm's way by initiating wars of choice unless America's vital interests were in danger.
    We also were sure that these presidents would not mislead us when issues involved our national security.
  • Today, our dominant international challenge is to restore the greatness of America, based on telling the truth, a commitment to peace, and respect for civil liberties at home and basic human rights around the world.
    Truth is the foundation of our global leadership, but our credibility has been shattered and we are left increasingly isolated and vulnerable in a hostile world.
    Without truth, without trust, America cannot flourish. Trust is at the very heart of our democracy, the sacred covenant between a president and the people.
    When that trust is violated, the bonds that hold our republic together begin to weaken.
  • After 9/11, America stood proud -- wounded, but determined and united. A cowardly attack on innocent civilians brought us an unprecedented level of cooperation and understanding around the world. But in just 34 months, we have watched with deep concern as all this good will has been squandered by a virtually unbroken series of mistakes and miscalculations.
    Unilateral acts and demands have isolated the United States from the very nations we need to join us in combating terrorism.
    Let us not forget that the Soviets lost the Cold War because the American people combined the exercise of power with adherence to basic principles, based on sustained bipartisan support.
    We understood the positive link between the defense of our own freedom and the promotion of human rights.
    But recent policies have cost our nation its reputation as the world's most admired champion of freedom and justice.
    What a difference these few months of extremism have made.
    The United States has alienated its allies, dismayed its friends, and inadvertently gratified its enemies by proclaiming a confused and disturbing strategy of preemptive war.
  • In repudiating extremism, we need to recommit ourselves to a few common-sense principles that should transcend partisan differences.
    First, we cannot enhance our own security if we place in jeopardy what is most precious to us, namely the centrality of human rights in our daily lives and in global affairs.
    Second, we cannot maintain our historic self-confidence as a people if we generate public panic.
    Third, we cannot do our duty as citizens and patriots if we pursue an agenda that polarizes and divides our country.
    Next, we cannot be true to ourselves if we mistreat others.
    And finally, in the world at large, we cannot lead if our leaders mislead.
  • Ultimately, the basic issue is whether America will provide global leadership that springs from the unity and the integrity of the American people, or whether extremist doctrines, the manipulation of the truth, will define America's role in the world.
    At stake is nothing less than our nation's soul.
  • I am not discouraged. I really am not. I do not despair for our country. I never do. I believe tonight, as I always have, that the essential decency and compassion and common sense of the American people will prevail.
    And so I say to you and to others around the world, whether they wish us well or ill: Do not underestimate us Americans.

Our Endangered Values (2005)Edit

I believe that anyone can be successful in life, regardless of natural talent or the environment within which we live. This is not based on measuring success by human competitiveness for wealth, possessions, influence, and fame, but adhering to God's standards of truth, justice, humility, service, compassion, forgiveness, and love.
Some of our actions are similar to those of abusive regimes that we have historically condemned.
Instead of honoring the historic restraints, our political leaders decided to violate them, using the excuse that we are at war against terrorism. It is obvious that the Geneva Conventions were designed specifically to protect prisoners of war, not prisoners of peace.
I never felt that my dedication to military service was a violation of my faith in Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

  • I have experienced the intensity of patriotism as a submarine officer, the ambitions of a competitive businessman, and the intensity of political debate. I have been sorely tempted to launch a military attack on foreigners, and have felt the frustration of having to negotiate with allies or even former enemies to reach a consensus instead of taking more decisive unilateral action.
    • p. 5
  • I believe that anyone can be successful in life, regardless of natural talent or the environment within which we live. This is not based on measuring success by human competitiveness for wealth, possessions, influence, and fame, but adhering to God's standards of truth, justice, humility, service, compassion, forgiveness, and love.
    • p. 28
  • A Contemplation of What Has Been Created, and Why
    I tried to fathom nature's laws
    From twirling models and schoolroom sketches
    Of molecules and parts of atoms,
    And nearly believed- but then came quarks,
    Bosons, leptons, antiparticles,
    Opposite turning mirror images,
    Some that perforate the earth,
    Never swerving from their certain paths.
    I've listened to conflicting views
    About the grand and lesser worlds:
    A big bang where it all began;
    Of curved, ever-expanding space;
    Perhaps tremendous whirling yo-yos
    That will someday reach the end
    Of cosmic gravity and then
    Fly back to where they can restart
    Or cataclysmically blow apart-
    And then, and then the next event.
    And is that all an accident?
    • pp. 51-52
  • For instance, I have never believed that Jesus Christ would approve either abortions or the death penalty, but I obeyed such Supreme Court decisions to the best of my ability, at the same time attempting to minimize what I considered to be their adverse impact.
    • p. 57
  • The government and the church are two different realms of service, and those in political office have to face a subtle but important difference between the implementation of the high ideals of religious faith and public duty.
    • pp. 57-58
  • There is a strong religious commitment to the sanctity of human life, but, paradoxically, some of the most fervent protectors of microscopic stem cells are the most ardent proponents of the death penalty.
    • p. 78
  • Some devout Christians are among the most fervent advocates of the death penalty, contradicting Jesus Christ and justifying their belief on an erroneous interpretation of Hebrew Scriptures. "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," their most likely response, overlooks the fact that this was promulgated by Moses as a limitation- a prohibition against taking both eyes or all of an offender's teeth in retribution.
    • p. 82
  • Eight years before he became vice president, Richard Cheney spelled out this premise in his "Defense Strategy for the 1990s." Either before or soon after 9/11, he and his close associates chose Iraq as the first major target, apparently to remove a threat to Israel and to have Iraq serve as our permanent military, economic, and political base in the Middle East.
    • p. 100
  • Formerly admired almost universally as the preeminent champion of human rights, the United States now has become one of the foremost targets of respected international organizations concerned about these basic principles of democratic life. Some of our actions are similar to those of abusive regimes that we have historically condemned.
    • pp. 117-118
  • It is apparent that prisoners of war are among the most vulnerable of people. Not only are they completely under the control of their captors, but in a time of conflict, the hatred and brutality of the battlefield are very likely to be mirrored within military prison walls.
    • pp. 125-126
  • The authenticity and universal applicability of these guarantees were never questioned by a democratic power — until recently, and by America! Instead of honoring the historic restraints, our political leaders decided to violate them, using the excuse that we are at war against terrorism. It is obvious that the Geneva Conventions were designed specifically to protect prisoners of war, not prisoners of peace.
    • pp. 126-127
  • Aside from the humanitarian aspects, it is well known that, under excruciating torture, a prisoner will admit almost any suggested crime. Such confessions are, of course, not admissible in trials in civilized nations. The primary goal of torture or the threat of torture is not to obtain convictions for crimes, but to engender and maintain fear. Some of our leaders have found that it is easy to forgo human rights for those who are considered to be subhuman, or "enemy combatants."
    • p. 129
  • With massive arsenals still on hair-trigger alert, a global holocaust is just as possible now, through mistakes or misjudgments, as it was during the depths of the Cold War.
    • p. 141
  • I never felt that my dedication to military service was a violation of my faith in Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.
    • p. 147
  • For me personally and for most other Americans, this commitment to peace and diplomacy does not imply a blind or total pacifism. There are times when war is justified, and for many centuries the moral criteria for violence have been carefully delineated.
    • p. 151
  • When combined, the small individual contributors of caring, friendship, forgiveness, and love, each of us different from our next-door neighbors, can form a phalanx, an army, with great capability.
    • p. 186
  • It is good to know that our nation's defenses against a conventional attack are impregnable, and an imperative that America remain vigilant against threats from terrorists. But as is the case with a human being, admirable characteristics of a nation are not defined by size and physical prowess. What are some of the other attributes of a superpower? Once again, they might very well mirror those of a person. These would include a demonstrable commitment to truth, justice, peace, freedom, humility, human rights, generosity, and the upholding of other moral values.
    • p. 199

Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid (2006)Edit


This is a national tragedy and is not who we are as a nation. Having observed elections in troubled democracies worldwide, I know that we the people can unite to walk back from this precipice to peacefully uphold the laws of our nation, and we must.


  • If you don't want your tax dollars to help the poor, then stop saying that you want a country based on Christian values. Because you don't.

Quotations about CarterEdit

Religion always functions best at the margins of society and not in the councils of power, and I think Jimmy Carter’s career illustrates that beautifully. ~ Randall Balmer
In alphabetized order by author or source.
  • Who ever decided that Americans were so bad off in the seventies anyway? From the right-wing revisionist propaganda that has become accepted as fact, you'd think that Americans under President Carter were suffering through something like the worst of the Weimar Republic combined with the Siege of Leningrad. The truth is that on a macroeconomic level, the difference between the Carter era and the Reagan era was minimal. For instance, economic growth during the Carter Administration averaged 2.8 percent annually, while under Reagan, from 1982 to 1989, growth averaged 3.2 percent. Was it really worth killing ourselves over that extra .4 percent of growth? For a lucky few, yes. On the other key economic gauge, unemployment, the Carter years were actually better than Reagan's, averaging 6.7 pervent annually during his "malaise-stricken" term as compared to an average 7.3 percent unemployment rate during the glorious eight-year reign of Ronald Reagan. Under Carter, people worked less, got far more benefits, and the country grew almost the same average annual rate as Reagan. On the other hand, according to the Statistical Abstract of the United States for 1996, under Reagan life got worse for those who had it worse: the number of people below the poverty line increased in almost every year from 1981 (31.8 million) to 1992 (39.3 million). And yet, we are told America was in decline until Reagan came to power and that the country was gripped by this ethereal malaise. Where was this malaise? Whose America was in decline? The problem with the 1970s wasn't that America was in decline, it was that the plutocracy felt itself declining. And in the plutocrats' eyes, their fortunes are synonymous with America's.
    • Mark Ames, Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond (2005), p. 99
  • No one's going to clarify the situation for black people. They know that very well-the situation of the kids in the street who have no jobs and no future. We have to articulate that necessity because Mr. Carter can't do it. He never sees those people. Those people are numbers in the bulk of the American population. I suppose that what I'm suggesting is that we're going to have to create the help.
    • interview in Conversations with James Baldwin edited by Louis H. Pratt and Fred L. Standley (1989)
  • In 1980 the Democrats were pretty much stuck with Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale, who ran under the slogan "Four More Years?" The Republicans, meanwhile, had a spirited primary campaign season, which came down to a duel between Reagan and George Herbert Walker Norris Wainright Armoire Vestibule Pomegranate Bush IV, who had achieved a distinguished record of public service despite havig a voice that sounded like he had just inhaled an entire blimp-load of helium.
    • Dave Barry, Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort of History of the United States (1989), p. 167
  • Reagan finally won the nomination by promoting "Reaganomics", an economic program based on the theory that the government could lower taxes while increasing spending and at the same time actually reduce the federal budget by sacrificing a live chicken by the light of a full moon. Bush charged that this amounted to "voo-doo economics," which got him into hot water until he explained that what he meant to say was "doo-doo economics." Satisfied, Reagan made Bush his vice-presidential nominee. The turning point in the election campaign came during the October 8 debate between Reagan and Carter, when Reagan's handlers came up with a shrewd strategy: No matter what Carter said, Reagan would respond by shaking his head in a sorrowful manner and saying: "There you go again." This was brilliant, because (a) it required the candidate to remember only four words, and (b) he delivered them so believably that everything Carter said seemed like a lie. If Carter had stated that the Earth was round, Reagan would have shaken his head, saying, "There you go again," and millions of voters would have said: "Yeah! What does Carter think we are? Stupid?
    • Dave Barry, Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort of History of the United States (1989), p. 167
  • The Carter administration set a goal of deriving 20 percent of U.S. energy needs from such renewable sources by the turn of the century. Today, the U.S. gets a mere 7 percent of its energy from renewables, the bulk of that from the massive hydroelectric dams constructed in the middle of the 20th century. Solar thermal and photovoltaic technology combined provide less than 0.1 percent.
  • By 1986, the Reagan administration had gutted the research and development budgets for renewable energy at the then-fledgling U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) and eliminated tax breaks for the deployment of wind turbines and solar technologies—recommitting the nation to reliance on cheap but polluting fossil fuels, often from foreign suppliers.
  • Throughout his career he invariably found himself defending tyrants and dictators at the expense of their oppressed peoples, not because he was insensitive but because he was confused.
  • Mr. Carter always subscribed to what my friend Michael Scroccaro calls 'Underdogma,' a knew-jerk reaction to champion the cause of the underdog however immoral the party. Poverty dictates virtue and weakness dictates righteousness.
  • At first glance, it may seem even stranger to compare the Manhattan real estate developer to a mild-mannered Georgia peanut farmer instead, and a president with serial marriages and allegations of sexual improprieties with a monogamous, Sunday school-teaching Southern Baptist. But politically, Trump and Carter have more in common than one might think, and the comparison goes well beyond Trump’s recent attempt to broker peace between Israel and the United Arab Emirates as Carter did with Israel and Egypt. Indeed, if recent polls hold, their ultimate political fates will be more alike than different, forever united in history as one-term presidents who were largely unable to rise to the challenges of their day. When Jimmy Carter won the presidency in 1976, his victory was hailed as a triumph of the outsider. No governor had been elected president since Franklin D. Roosevelt, and with the exception of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the White House had generally been occupied by senators and former vice presidents who might best be described as "Washington insiders." No wonder, in a nation reeling from Watergate and Nixon’s subsequent pardon, voters looked for leadership without the stench of the swamp. Carter’s close-fought victory in the Electoral College reflected his ability to attract Southern Democrats, who now leaned Republican in presidential elections, to his side and produced an electoral map that hadn’t been seen since 1960—and hasn’t been seen since his victory. (Clinton, the next Democratic president after Carter, managed to win a few states in the Deep South, but the shift to Carter in 1976 was largely temporary.) The region voted for Reagan and Bush—and more recently against Obama—as it became reliably Republican at the presidential level. And in the lead-up to Donald Trump in 2016, the electoral map remained largely consistent. In short, Carter was the right person at the right time to draw enough of those voters back into the Democratic tent to win election. Flash back to 2016, and we see Trump also realigning the American electoral map, making inroads into working-class Midwestern states like Michigan and Wisconsin that hadn’t voted for a Republican in a presidential election since the 1980s. As with Carter, Americans elected Donald Trump as an “anti-establishment outsider” who promised to “drain the swamp” and change the way conventional Washington does business—messaging that his campaign is still using as an incumbent in 2020. Trump’s 304-227 victory in the Electoral College was similarly narrow to Carter’s 297-240, and whether he will be able to replicate this map in 2020 remains to be seen.
  • As we’re seeing in real time, Trump’s presidency will be singularly characterized by his ability (or inability) to rise to the challenges that now threaten his time in office—in much the same way that Carter’s electoral success ultimately depended on his handling of the Iran hostage crisis and the economic difficulties of his day. Like Carter, Trump is running for reelection with an economy in recession. One of the most critical difficulties faced by Carter in the 1980 campaign was Reagan’s question, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” Rather few can answer “yes” to that today—and the same was true for Carter. At first, Carter’s response to the recession received high marks from voters. His now infamous “malaise speech” in July 1979, criticized in years since, was viewed overwhelmingly positively at the time. Carter’s poll numbers rebounded such that by the start of 1980, he led presumptive Republican nominee Ronald Reagan by more than 30 percentage points in some polls. Much of the Trump presidency tells a similar story. Trump never had the same high approval ratings, but for perhaps even longer than Carter, he seemed to be well-positioned for reelection. And despite a “blue wave” in the 2018 midterms, Trump’s record on the economy pointed toward victory in 2020. He oversaw a bullish stock market, record low unemployment, and the strongest economic expansion since at least the mid-1990s—all traditional indicators of strength. But Trump’s fortunes changed dramatically this past spring, first with the rise of the novel coronavirus, and then with the development of civil and racial unrest in America’s cities. In both cases, his actions—or with respect to coronavirus, his inaction—only exacerbated these problems and threatened his chances of a victory in November. Teargassing peaceful protesters to secure a photo op for evangelicals, then sending heavily armed federal law enforcement officers to Portland, Ore., echoes Carter’s failed attempt at rescuing the hostages—only to have things blow up in his face.
  • Carter and Trump’s inability to respond effectively to their respective crises also stems from an unwillingness to engage with Congress and develop the relationships necessary to sway the legislature their way. While both had big plans for changing Washington—for Carter, it was energy and welfare reform; for Trump, a smattering of new trade deals, building the Wall and repealing Obamacare—neither mastered the levers of Congress and how to pull them to their advantage. Ultimately, they were stymied when crises struck and all the wheels of government needed to turn together. The seeds of these late-term failures were sown early in their terms. Trump and Carter both had a few, early successes. Both were able to deregulate massive swaths of American industry, and both signed tax cuts in the second year of their administration. Carter—much more of a fiscal hawk than the current President—aimed for a balanced budget but, like Trump, also faced a breakdown within his own party over health care. More often, though, Carter struggled to advance his domestic legislative priorities. He began his term with his party in control of both houses of the legislature, but Congress rejected his welfare reform plans and Democratic leaders famously scuttled his plans to wind down a collection of what he saw as pork-barrel water projects in their districts. Later, they would even override his veto of a bill that repealed oil import fees, the first time they had done so for a majority party president in 28 years. Likewise, when Donald Trump took office with Republican control of the House and Senate, he began hitting walls right away. Despite years of promises, the party was not able to take action on rolling back Obamacare, the signature achievement of Trump’s predecessor. Trump was not able to sell the issue to the public or members of Congress, and the majority-led bill famously went down in the Senate when John McCain cast the deciding vote against it. Trump’s much-vaunted border wall also failed to gain traction despite unified party rule, and he even tried to shift funds from the military budget to get his way. Unlike Carter, Trump quickly gave up working with Congress. In discussions over the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and later with Covid relief, Trump had Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin take over the role of chief negotiator with Congress, relegating the president to the sidelines. But no matter the amount of effort they put in, both presidents ended up acting largely alone until they hit existential threats—whether hostage-takers or a virus—that required seamless coordination among power centers. The failures that followed were almost predictable, whether an unsuccessful rescue attempt or an uncontrolled pandemic.
  • The country’s tilt against Trump may have come later in the campaign than it did against Carter, but the end result looks likely to be the same. And if that is the case, then the legacy of the 2020 election might have implications far beyond our current times. If Trump is our generation’s Carter, then 2020 just might look more like 1980 and make 78-year-old Joe Biden the Ronald Reagan of our times—a broadly popular figure rising out of the malaise and establishing a legacy for his party for the next generation. A strange turn of events, no doubt. After all, although history rarely repeats, it may yet again rhyme.
  • If he lives long enough I believe he will become a member of a group of wise men which will function as the future ruling committee of the United States.
  • Today -- and I'm not making this up -- Jimmy Carter endorsed Donald Trump. Here's what Jimmy Carter said: the reason is Donald's views are malleable, he has no core beliefs on anything... This Cruz guy actually believes this stuff. I want the video, and I am going to pay to air Jimmy Carter attacking me.
  • Mr. Carter has presented a tour de force of the global abuse and manipulation of women, including statistics that will stun most readers with details that cannot be ignored. More importantly, he makes the argument that the treatment of women in world societies cannot and should not be justified by religious texts or appeals to ancestral tradition.
  • Coming from a "Sunday school teacher," the book is designed to shock us into the reality that the social creation of gender roles is not "the divine will." Rather, gender roles are the result of human social control, greed, power politics and the continued pursuit of sexual gratification that blames all women for the crime of seducing men. ... Mr. Carter's "A Call to Action" should not only be required reading in America, but should also serve as the template for a complete reinterpretation of the religious views behind our treatment of each other, to discover what he claims is the true meaning behind the miracle of creation.
  • Jimmy Carter has literally become such an anti-Israel bigot that there is a special place in Hell reserved for somebody like that. He has no sympathy or understanding for the suffering of the Jewish people—for the plight of the Jewish people. He loves every Muslim extremist he can find. He thought the former president of Syria—Assad—was a wonderful man. He bounced Yasser Arafat's children on his knee and loved Yasser Arafat and his crooked wife who stole three billion dollars from the Palestinian people, but he never had a kind word to say about almost any Israeli, except a few on the hard left who maybe tended to agree with him. ... If you're an Israeli, Carter doesn't like you and if you're an Arab or a Muslim, he likes you.
  • As it happened, the fifth anniversary of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam occurred at the time of the 1973 siege of Wounded Knee. It was difficult to miss the analogy between the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre and My Lai, 1968. Alongside the front-page news and photographs of the Wounded Knee siege that was taking place in real time were features with photos of the scene of mutilation and death at My Lai. Lieutenant William "Rusty" Calley was then serving his twenty-year sentence under house arrest in luxurious officers' quarters at Fort Benning, Georgia, near his hometown. Yet he remained a national hero who received hundreds of support letters weekly, who was lauded by some as a POW being held by the US military. One of Calley's most ardent defenders was Jimmy Carter, then governor of Georgia. In 1974, President Richard Nixon would pardon Calley.
  • First of all stop thinking about yourself and actually think about getting things done for the American people. I think that the first problem is that they're concerned about how they look. Second of all, I think they've got it completely wrong. Biden will be remembered as being worse than Jimmy Carter because they're talking about gas prices and inflation and how things were bad then and now, but they're ignoring the fact that Carter's policies didn't fast-track us into a new Cold War or push us into a place where we're closer to a nuclear war now than since the Cuban missile crisis. Carter didn't denounce and reject half the country as domestic terrorists. Carter didn't sic the Department of Justice on parents who are trying to fight for their children's education and the list goes on and on. I really wish the president of the United States and the White House would really focus on actually doing the work for the American people rather than thinking about perceptions or politics or elections or all these other things.
  • President Trump called former President Jimmy Carter for the first time this weekend... It was the first time they'd spoken... He said Trump told him that he is particularly concerned about how China is "getting ahead of us." Carter said he agreed with Trump on this issue. "And do you know why?" Carter said. "I normalized diplomatic relations with China in 1979. Since 1979, do you know how many times China has been at war with anybody? None. And we have stayed at war," Carter said the United States is "the most warlike nation in the history of the world" due to a desire to impose American values on other countries, and he suggested that China is investing its resources into projects such as high-speed railroads instead of defense spending.
  • Gerald Ford used every bit of his presidential incumbent power to narrowly stave off Ronald Reagan's challenge at the 1976 Republican National Convention. But Nixon's pardoner and the steward of a poor economy lost to the "untainted" and unknown former Democratic governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter. Black hopes were high until the austere Carter administration, to boost the economy, started unprecedented cuts in social welfare, health care, and educational programs while increasing military spending. From the lowest Black poverty rate in US history in 1973, the decade ended with record unemployment rates, inflation, falling wages, rising Black poverty rates, and increasing inequality.
    • Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (2017). New York: Bold Type Books, p. 424-425
  • Yes. Three of them were strong for universal comprehensive coverage, effectively a single-payer or universal coverage, except Carter. Carter refused, during the whole course of the campaign, to take that position. He had reasons that I don’t know. I guess he wanted to do everything on his own on this thing. He sort of relished the idea that he didn’t have to make a commitment on universal comprehensive coverage. He had stated, in the course of the convention—The convention in ’76 had a good plank for universal coverage, which he claimed to support and which was written mostly by the people that supported—by the UAW people, and Leonard Woodcock and Corman, Woodcock being the head of the UAW then. But whenever he was asked about it—he talked about healthcare; he talked about coverage; and he talked his way around it. You know, he used artful words all the way through this. I campaigned for him and appeared with him on a number of occasions, but he was never—When he got the nomination in ’76, I think it’s probably the only convention I didn’t speak at. He wasn’t all that interested in me speaking at it. He wanted to be separated and clear from the Kennedys, and he made that somewhat clear.
  • Since Biden circa 2022 is often compared to 1970s Jimmy Carter due to a combination of sluggish job approval ratings, unhappy progressive activists, and big-time economic problems (especially inflation), it is germane to observe that Carter managed to soundly defeat Ted Kennedy — the liberal lion of the 1970s and subsequent decades — in the 1980 nomination contest. Are there any Ted Kennedys around right now to mobilize progressive anti-administration grievances into a successful insurgent candidacy? Someday, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may have that stature — but not now. Indeed, the only potential rival from any wing of the party who is in that position is Bernie Sanders, who is older than Biden. And even if there were some Kennedy-like figure available, would the fight disable the Democratic Party (as it arguably did in 1980) more than slogging ahead with the incumbent?
  • (Sinda Gregory: “Science fiction seems to appeal to a lot of Americans today who are concerned about the things you write about, who feel that something drastic needs to be done before we blow ourselves up or completely destroy our environment.”) Le Guin: We have to thank Reagan and friends for this mood, maybe. They've scared us. Poor Jimmy Carter, who was perfectly aware of what World War Three would be like, couldn't get through to the public. We let him do the worrying for us, and then blamed him for our problems.
  • Former president Jimmy Carter recently made a profound and damning statement — the United States is the “most warlike nation in the history of the world.” Carter contrasted the United States with China, saying that China is building high-speed trains for its people while the United States is putting all of its resources into mass destruction. Where are high-speed trains in the United States, Carter appropriately wondered.... As if to prove Carter’s assertion, Vice President Mike Pence told the most recent graduating class at West Point that it “is a virtual certainty that you will fight on a battlefield for America at some point in your life... You will lead soldiers in combat. It will happen.” Clearly referring to Venezuela, Pence continued, “Some of you may even be called upon to serve in this hemisphere.” In other words, Pence declared, war is inevitable, a certainty for this country.
  • After the Black leadership meeting in 1983, the Rev. Jesse Jackson decided to test the waters. Re-enter Preston Love, Jr. Because of Jackson’s relationship with Young, my presence in his administration and my newly found political reputation, Jackson asked me to take a leave of absence from Young and work with him during his presidential exploratory journey. I accepted. At that point, I was Jackson’s only staff member. Late in the summer of 1983, while Jackson and I traveled the southern sector registering Black voters and urging them to vote, we visited Carter at his home in Plains, Georgia. I remember so well what gracious hosts the president and his wife, Rosalyn, were to Jackson and me. He was insightful, and had a historic perspective of the presidency. about the pitfalls and the realities of doing such. After meeting with him, I felt a tremendous like and respect for the man. We also had a short, but exciting, tour of the complex and a quick course in farming peanuts. While Carter encouraged Jackson to pursue a run for president, he was very clear and forthright. I mourn the fact that he, to this date, has not received his due. Not only as president, but for his post-presidential service, and for his interactions and relationships with the Black community.
  • Moreover, Trump bears some comparisons to Jimmy Carter. His personal popularity is poor, and he has proven largely unable to transform his party in policy terms. Moreover, like Carter he leads what is arguably a demographically declining coalition of older voters in shrinking states. And if you think Trump is a failed "disjunctive president" at a moment when the winds of populism are blowing, then Sanders is the obvious successor. He would be able to steal Trump's populist thunder, waving the White House's Medicare-cutting budget like a bloody shirt, much as Reagan was able to accelerate Carter's deregulatory reformism and military buildup. But Trump-Carter comparisons are limited by two facts. First, Carter not only was unable to transform his party ideologically (as Trump largely has); he was also unable to establish control of it institutionally. That is emphatically not the case with Trump, who continues to purge his administration of disloyal elements and has struck fear in the heart of nearly every Republican senator not named Mitt Romney. Trump has faced primary challengers in 2020, but nothing remotely on the scale of Ted Kennedy's challenge to Carter. The Republican Party in 2020 will be absolutely unified behind Trump.
  • A high water mark attempt to establish a consumer protection watchdog agency was derailed by corporate pressure during the presidency of Jimmy Carter in 1978. The degree to which the plutocracy has dominated and defeated efforts to advance the public interest in the United States has steadily expanded over the last 40 years.
  • In the film, Carter repeatedly and unequivocally states what Palestinian and Israeli peace advocates view as undeniable: To achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace with all its benefits for the world, Israel must end its illegal and oppressive occupation of the West Bank. That is a prerequisite that neither President Bush nor congressional leaders of both parties can approach for fear of being labeled anti-Israeli or even anti-Semitic (as Carter has been).
  • As Israelis, Eldar and Zertal employ language that not even Carter dares use: "Israel’s lofty demands that Palestinians strengthen their democracy and impose control on extremist organizations is . . . nothing but deceptive talk covering its own deeds, which are aimed at achieving exactly the opposite – of eroding Palestinian society." Carter goes further in this direction than any other prominent American in “Man From Plains,” and people who wander into a movie theater to see the film may be shocked. It raises questions that must at least be asked for the contemplated conference at Annapolis to have any chance.
  • Now it was 1977, Carter was in the White House, and serious Canal negotiations were under way. Many of MAIN's competitors had taken the wrong side and had been turned out of Panama, but our work had multiplied. And I was sitting in the lobby of the Hotel Panama, having just finished reading an article..."The Country with Five Frontiers,"... a gutsy piece...The clear implication was that the U.S. intelligence community was determined to undermine the wishes of President Carter and, if necessary, would bribe Panama's military chiefs into sabotaging the treaty negotiations.
  • Carter may have been an ineffective politician, but he had a vision for America that was consistent with the one defined in our Declaration of Independence. In retrospect, he now seems naively archaic, a throwback to the ideals that molded this nation and drew so many of our grandparents to her shores. When we compare him to his immediate predecessors and successors, he is an anomaly. His worldview was inconsistent with that of the EHMs [economic hit men]. Reagan, on the other hand, was most definitely a global empire builder, a servant of the corporatocracy.
  • You say that you are Christian. If you are really Christian, please stop sending military aid to the military here [El Salvador], because they use it only to kill my people.
  • As former president Jimmy Carter has said, unlimited money in politics "violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now, it's just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and Congress members. So now we've just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election's over."
  • What has been lost in the mists of history is that Carter remained a relatively popular president during his first year in office with his approval rating in the Gallup Poll never dropping below 50 percent. Trump’s approval numbers, in contrast, are best examined by a submarine. After two months in office, according to Gallup, Trump was roughly half as popular (39 percent) as Carter (75 percent) at a similar juncture. But presidents are not judged by approval ratings alone. Inheriting a recessionary economy, Carter passed, in the spring of 1977, a stimulus package that included tax cuts and funding for an eventual 725,000 public service jobs. Partly as a result, the unemployment rate dropped to below 6 percent at the end of 1978. It is ironic that the stimulus was attacked at the time by liberals and labor unions for being too timid. In reality, it proved to be the last New Deal-style job-creation program in American history. As a former aide to Labor Secretary Ray Marshall, I still believe that these liberal aspects of the Carter administration get far too little historical credit.
  • Almost all the problems that now define Carter as a failed president only emerged in 1979, his third year in the White House. An oil crisis produced gasoline lines across the country and the inflation rate — which had also bedeviled the prior three presidents — approached 10 percent annually. Carter responded in July 1979 by delivering what is remembered as the “malaise” speech, even though that word was never uttered as the president talked about the "crisis of confidence" afflicting America. But what is forgotten — amid the ridicule surrounding Carter’s legacy — was that the speech itself was popular with the voters. I didn’t work on the speech, but I did write some of Carter’s follow-up addresses. As a result, I read dozens of emotional letters that ordinary citizens sent to the president, responding to his call for national unity in the face of the energy crisis. What upended Carter was not the speech, but his subsequent decision to fire four Cabinet members in a self-inflicted government shake-up. As for the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, it was partly triggered by the president agreeing to admit the exiled Shah to America for medical treatment. In making this fateful decision, Carter was swayed against his own instincts by appeals from Henry Kissinger and banker David Rockefeller. Once again, Carter was victimized by his hunger for establishment approval.
  • It was impossible not to like Jimmy Carter. He was a deeply committed Christian and a man of obvious sincerity. He was also a man of marked intellectual ability with a grasp, rare among politicians, of science and the scientific method.
  • Carter despised Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin for his tenacious defense of Jewish rights and unwillingness to bow to U.S. pressure. He always blamed Begin for somehow deceiving him about Israel’s intention to defend the right of Jews to settle in Judea and Samaria, which the president wanted to end. But that was not true since, if anything, Carter deceived himself about what Begin’s promise of limited autonomy for Palestinian Arabs in the territories really meant. Carter’s hostility to Israel was no secret, and it played a part in the failure of his bid for re-election in 1980. Reagan achieved a modern record of 40% of the Jewish vote not so much because of his appeal but because of Carter’s unpopularity—something that Republicans have failed to remember as they’ve sought in vain to replicate that feat. Carter blamed the Jews for his defeat; it colored his post-presidency as he began a decades-long effort to promote Palestinian statehood and to smear Israel. He was not the only person to be wrong about the necessity for a two-state solution, but few matched the virulence with which he assailed Israel, and especially its American supporters, for their refusal to listen to his bad advice. That culminated in the publication of his 2006 book—Palestine, Peace Not Apartheid, which in no small measure began the effort, at least in the United States, to mainstream the big lie that the Middle East’s only democracy was in some ways morally equivalent to apartheid-era South Africa. For all of the applause he has received for his life as an ex-president, Carter’s animus against the Jewish state and willingness to use his moral standing and influence to besmirch it and aid the efforts of antisemitic hate-mongers and terrorists to undermine its existence is also part of his legacy.
  • So, when assessing his life, how do we weigh that against the many good things that can be said for Jimmy Carter as an individual? There is no calculus by which these competing arguments can be measured exactly. Like everyone, his life was a mixture of good and bad. It is entirely possible to acknowledge his outstanding personal qualities and even his undoubted positive intentions, but to also judge his presidency to be a disaster and his post-presidential efforts to have also done as much harm as good. We should all wish him and his family well and, whenever it does happen, his passing should be acknowledged with the solemnity and respect due to a former president of the United States. But we should not let that desire to think well of a historic figure color the verdict of contemporary public opinion or history. Jimmy Carter may have been a very decent man in many respects, but he was still a bad president and someone whose unfair attacks on the Jewish state deserve to be held against him.
  • Now more than halfway through his third year in office — with the economy flat-lining, American prestige evaporating, and public anxiety spiking — Barack Obama is the most vulnerable incumbent president since Jimmy Carter. The election is still 14 months away, but it's not too early to see the broad outlines of the GOP's case against the president.
  • The parallels between Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter are hauntingly familiar. And if the eventual Republican nominee employs the right strategy against President Obama, America's 44th president will suffer the same fate as America's 39th president.

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