You just have to love Jimmy Carter. After being the butt of jokes for his honesty and courage to promote peace, he still gets a kick out of writing poetry. This is truly a man comfortable in his own skin, a trait sorely lacking in American society.
I worked for Carter’s presidential campaign in the 1980 campaign and I truly believe that his loss was the beginning of a harsher, angrier, greedier society. It was the moment when America sold Christianity down the river for a false prophet. From up close and personal with the Carters, I know that this Rosalynn and Jimmy couple was who we were but not who too many Americans aspired to be. And in the mirror of themselves, the voters just couldn’t stand for someone who wouldn’t ballyhoo all the clutter, glitter and bravado of a USA mentally gone awry.
You see, Jimmy Carter was the last of ‘what you see, you get.’ I met him in “coach” on a plane from Atlanta to Washington. He sat in the middle seat and looked at me and said, “Hi, I’m Jimmy Carter and I’m running for President.” Yeah, right, sure you are. To imagine this today, with the reality of sold out politicos vying to head our oligarchy where only the uber rich rule can play is unimaginable. Think about sitting next to Jeb Bush or Hilary in the “economy” section?
The night of Jimmy Carter’s losing to Ronald Reagan is full of vivid memories, none more electric than when I picked up my phone and the President was on the other line. He said, “ Val, I am so sorry that we lost. I know that you and everyone in the field worked very hard and I appreciate that so much. Rosalynn and I will always be grateful for the sacrifices made by those who believed in us.” My only thought was that he had to repeat this so many times to so many people who thought that he was the one who sacrificed his soul for a nation moving into a new age, perhaps the era of America’s adolescence where we would make good and bad choices and pay the price.
I was horrified by the Iranian crisis, earlier in Carter’s presidency. We were all very angry. Iran held all of us hostage. But Carter was a man of faith who believed in saving lives and not creating martyrs, so he patiently waited while his opponents cremated him at home with nasty rhetoric about being a wimp or too weak to pull the trigger. And, now, decades later, he lets people know that this dreadful enemy who knifed his presidency is worth the effort of a treaty to stop nuclear proliferation. He says this Obama deal with Iran is the best we can achieve and most importantly leads to reducing the nuclear threat that we face. And of course, the opposition yells, sissy.
Jimmy Carter and those who appreciate him are not weak. Actually, they may be the strongest of our nation, strong enough to know how tough one has to be to earn peace. Never mind that he has gone one to build homes for those less fortunate, visit nations to ensure democratic elections, create awareness around environmental issues, fight for human rights, and go to church and pray on Sundays for all of us.
I would go on, but in Jimmy Carter’s own words can be found his inner strength and clues to where we need to go as a progressive, strong, honest America. This is the Carter whose legacy will be helping the nation by example find our inner strength and soul. To this day, Jimmy the President and the man still make me proud. He fills me with hope for better days ahead for a great people.
On his wife…
“Rosalynn and I have been married for 69 years and still get more in love with each other.”
“1. Choose the right person. 2. Give each other plenty of space.
On Same Sex Marriage…
“Jesus would not be against marriage between any two people if they genuinely are in love.”
“We must love God and the person who happens to be in front of us at any particular time.”
“The Iran deal is the best deal we could possibly consummate to avoid war and stop Iran from moving towards a nuclear weapon.”
On Extremism and Politics…
“The alliance between the ultra-right wing religious believers and the Republican Party seem to be permanent.”
“When I write a poem, I can get to the most honest expressions of my feelings.”
The closing words from President Carter’s Nobel Lecture is most telling about a man who would be President and a good American…“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.”
The Peace Man