JamesEarl Carter, Jr. (better known as ) was the 39th Americanpresident. He was born on October 1, 1924, in a small farming towncalled Plains, Georgia (Maidadi, Margo and Neighbor 2). James EarlCarter, Sr. was `s father. He was both a business personand a farmer. Carter`s mother was called Lillian Gordy Carter shewas a registered nurse. ventured into the politicalworld in 1962, after being elected to Georgia Senate. In 1966, helost his first gubernatorial campaign but regained entry into thepolitical world in 1971 after being elected into office as Georgia`s76th governor. Carter was the chairperson of the Democratic NationalCommittee campaign for the 1974 gubernatorial and congressionalelections. In 1974, Carter decided to announce his bid for thepresidency of the United States he won his party`s nomination(Democratic National Convention) and was elected into office asAmerica`s president in 1976. `s term extended fromJanuary 20th, 1977 to January 20th, 1981. During this period, Carterintroduced a number of policies, for example, the Panama CanalTreaties, the Egyptian and Israel treaty of peace, Camp DavidAccords, among many other accomplishments. This paper discusses theimpact that had on the American history and society.
Beforebecoming a politician, worked as a nuclear engineer forsome years (Haidar 110). Carter`s competitive edge was revealed afterhe left Georgia to study at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.According to Francis Hertzog, one of his friends at Annapolis, Carterhated losing he always desired to be the greatest at what he did.1After his studies at Annapolis, Carter enlisted in the Navy andworked under the supervision of Admiral Hyman Rickover on a newnuclear submarine program as an engineer. Working as an engineerequipped Carter with managerial and technical skills these abilitieshelped him solve problems more efficiently throughout his career.
Carter`spolitical intelligence was shaped by his early years in Georgianpolitics (Haidar 110). The political system of Georgia was riddledwith corruption thus, coming to fame under such conditions can beperceived as one of his early breakthroughs. Carter decided to runfor Georgia`s Senate seat in 1962, beating Joe Hurst, a famousbusiness person and one of the most influential bosses in Georgia.Carter almost lost to Hurst because of Hurst`s vote manipulation.Results revealed that more voters compared to the registered numberparticipated in the election. Statistics showed that, due to Hurst’svoter manipulation, “dead men cast votes” and 126 people voted inalphabetical order.2Carter`s tenacity prompted the election officials to do a recount ofthe votes. Carter marshaled enough media attention to bring to bearthe corruption that was going on in Georgia his actions helped himsecure the Senate seat. Carter learned a critical lesson from thiselection: politicians can never be trusted.
Carterjoined the Senate lacking not only a proper association with theparty system but also with the legislators themselves (Haidar 110).In his first year as a senator, Carter was extremely hardworking,even compared with his peers. This type of conduct was not commonwith Georgian legislators. In fact, Carter did not enjoy socializingand horse trading, activities that were considered part of the lifeof a senator. Politicians had to undertake these activities sincethey were critical to the proper execution of their duties. Accordingto Hamilton Jordon, Carter did not comprehend the personal lifeelements of politics. Such a temperament may have come from hisbackground as a nuclear engineer, a profession that primarilyconcentrated on getting the job done today as opposed to buildingrelationships for tomorrow. Since Carter understood that politicsgreatly influenced the process of policy development in his region,he believed that his way of doing things was the right way. Thisperception was fired up during his senatorial term. Carter maintainedthis presumption even after he went to Washington.
Carter`sdiverse approaches to politics were woven into a predictable anddefinable pattern during his term as a state senator (Hargrove 4). Astrong emphasis was placed on "homework," in the sense thatCarter pledged to study every bill carefully before approving it. Healso introduced all-encompassing solutions to the problems that theindividuals living in Georgia faced. For example, he institutedmeasures that touched on school finance, education, the taxation ofutilities, election laws, budget procedures, overcrowded state mentalhospitals and uniform salaries for state officials. In hisbiography, Carter indicated that common good cannot prevail ifdecisions are made behind closed doors.4According to Carter, where clear and comprehensive issues are notpresent, the interest of the general public cannot be marshaled,making it difficult for legislators to respond to the professionaland quiet issues raised by lobbyists.
Carter`sbeliefs prompted him to give up his virtually guaranteed election toCongress in 1966 to pursue a gubernatorial seat against Bo Callaway,an opponent that he described as being very competitive (Hargrove 4).Carter was not the most popular politician in Georgia thus, thedemand that he run for governor was not very high. Consequently, helost in the Democratic Party’s primary election. He fell into adeep depression after his loss. The loss brought him closer to hisfaith, prompting historians to label the period between 1966 and 1970a phase that raised Carter’s understanding of faith to cope withthe crisis in his life. This period helped Carter grow into a personthat could embrace failure. Carter resorted to always doing his bestand acting within the confines of his principles.
Consideringthe above, Carter`s belief that the entire political system wascorrupt prompted him to decide to work against the system as opposedto working with it (Haidar 110). In his 1970 bid for Georgia`sgovernor, Carter`s campaign manifesto centered on making thegovernment more capable and sensitive to the needs of its citizenry.However, Georgia`s average citizens associated the government withpolitics thus, the perception that was created in their minds wasthat Carter was anti-government. Carter was viewed as an outsidereven after he was elected into office because he only pursuedinitiatives that he considered beneficial to his electorate. Tocombat the inefficiencies of the government, Carter eliminated theunnecessary agencies and centralized control under the governor. Inessence, Carter built his legacy on redesigning the system as opposedto working with it.
GovernorCarter`s initiatives came to be viewed as noteworthy because theywere rather difficult to label (Haidar 111). Carter refused to beconfined by the notions of what being liberal or conservative meantand what an individual affiliated with either conception was supposedto do. Carter`s pre-Washington career primarily centered on riddingthe Georgian government of corruption. As a consequence, Carterdeveloped his set of beliefs that usually deviated from thoseestablished by the party. Carter never felt obliged to confine hisactions to the standards laid down by the Democratic Party, bothwithin Georgia or the nation at large. Consequently, Carter had ahard time garnering support for his proposals from the people who hadthe ultimate authority over them (lawmakers) because he never provedhis loyalty to his party.
Infact, Carter, in his book OurEndangered Values: America`s Moral Crisis,stated that soon after he arrived in Washington, he found itdifficult to get his party members to sponsor his legislativeproposals.5Therefore, he had to request the Republicans to support his bill onre-organizing parts of the federal bureaucracy (Carter 8). Carter`smove at shifting coalitions of support was favored by members of bothparties (Republicans and Democrats). The members were in agreementwith some issues. The most intense opposition, however, came from theliberal side of the Democratic Party.
Carterlaid emphasis on competence (Hargrove 6). He sought to understand theissues that he assumed responsibility for. In fact, in his 1975autobiography, he stated that he focused on knowing the minutestdetails of his job.6He also despised leaders who were proficient in the theory ofmanagement but had limited knowledge of the events the transpiredwithin their spheres of responsibilities. Carter also criticizedAmerica`s education system, including the naval academy, forproducing graduates who lacked the technical capacity to undertaketheir duties. In fact, in 1982, Carter told a group of politicalscientists that he liked to understand, in detail, the things thatlay under his supervision. These sentiments were proven correct afterCarter presented himself, informally, to a meeting of the two housesof the Georgia legislature. Carter`s understanding of the issuesfacing Georgia was so vast that a veteran legislator contended thathe had never seen anybody do his work as well as Carter did he addedthat Carter had more information about Georgia than anyone in thestate.
Carter`sstrong political principles may be attributed to his firm Christianbackground (Haidar 111). In OurEndangered Values: America`s Moral Crisis,Carter stated that his religious background was inextricablyintertwined with his political principles.7Although most politicians identify with religion, Carter`s faith wasrather profound. He grew as a Christian and upheld his Christianmorals even after joining the political world. In fact, he maintainedhis Bible lessons even after he became the president of the UnitedStates. Considering Carter`s tough stand on Christianity, peoplecould not help but question how he dealt with dilemmas in thepolitical world. Carter said that even though he believed in JesusChrist, he always did his best to preserve, protect and defend hiscountry`s constitution. On one occasion, he said that even though heknew that Jesus could never approve the killing of people inabortions, he obeyed the rules advanced by the Supreme Court.
Cartercontinued serving in church even after he was elected as Georgia’sGovernor (Carter 8). His family joined the Northside Drive BaptistChurch, and he served as a deacon.8The same pattern was followed even after his family moved toWashington, where Carter joined the congregation of the First BaptistChurch and taught a few times every year. Carter was primarilyaffiliated with the religious left (Haidar 113). However, some of thepolicies he supported were rightist in nature. The majority ofCarter`s positions were in line with what the Left stood for. Forexample, the Left advocated for environmental legislation, healthcare, and policies that supported minimal military intervention.Nevertheless, Carter reacted to issues such as abortion in the sameway that the right did. These inconsistencies made the leadership ofthe Democratic Party seem somewhat awkward. Carter`s moral positionmade him look like an outsider once he was elected as the presidentof the US and even developed a rift between him and his partysometimes.
Since1966, Carter had been contemplating running for the presidency of theUnited States (Hargrove 11). Carter`s advantage at winning thepresidency of the United States became visible as early as 1972.Although McGovern had portrayed high standards of moral leadership,he had not succeeded in portraying the image of a competentpresident. Carter, in contrast, had proven that he had the capacityto be both a moral and a capable leader. Thus, he became thepreferred candidate of the Democratic Party. According to HamiltonJordan, since the Vietnam War was coming to a close, the focus of thenation was going to shift to finding ways to solve domestic problems.Therefore, the masses were looking for a leadership that couldenhance the problem-solving ability of the government. McGovern hadonly succeeded in proving that he had the capacity to lead thecountry in a manner that could be regarded as moral. Carter, on theother hand, had demonstrated that he could enhance efficiency andsolve the problems of the electorate during his term as Georgia`sgovernor.
Cartercentered his presidential campaign on two fundamental questions:"Can…government be open, fair, decent, honest, andcompassionate? and can…government be competent?" (Hargrove11).9Carter was viewed as the first southern politician to believe thatthe application of a southern style of politics was tenable ifapplied nationwide. Also, Carter`s rich Christian background assertedthat he would lead the country in a moral way. Thus, both thetechnocratic and moralizing aspects of Carter’s leadership styleboosted the confidence of Americans in Carter’s leadership style.The public assumed that Carter would rule the country in a style thatwould help the nation rise above politics as usual. The massesexpected that Carter would assist in creating a government that wasboth honest and competent.
Carter,as a political leader, believed that he was responsible forarticulating the good of the entire American community as opposed toa fraction of it (Hargrove 13). Carter held that the public interestcould only be advanced through study and debate. He alleged,implicitly, that the "right reason" could be developed toguide action. He desired that study and discussion be broughttogether in a bid to find all-encompassing solutions to the problemsthat faced the country. Also, Carter did not believe in fashioningpolicies to achieve political advantage however, he felt thatcompromise was essential at the end of the day. He asserted that thepublic interest was the number one priority, but an agreement couldbe reached in due course. This assumption was based on thesupposition that compromise was only acceptable after an all-outattempt at selling the optimal policy had failed.
Aspointed out earlier, Carter`s personal values influenced his style ofleadership profoundly (Hargrove 13). In his development of social andeconomic policies, he combined the liberal goals of justice andequity with fiscal moderation and an efficient and limitedgovernment. In foreign policy, he emphasized the cooperation of allnations, in particular between the Soviet Union and the UnitedStates. Nonetheless, he also acknowledged the existence ofcompetition. Thus, in all his policies, Carter sought a balance andsynthesis between the seemingly competitive principles. To realize abalance in such cases, Carter believed that debate and the goodwillof policymakers would help solve any issues that arose during thepolicy development process. He felt that discussion created a fertileground for agreement.
Theabove characteristics helped Carter to develop the skills of amanager of policy formulation (Hargrove 14). Carter ensured that freediscussion was incorporated into the process of executivedecision-making. He achieved this end by positioning himself at thecenter of the debate since he made all the decisions. Carter did notentertain intermediaries who dissuaded him from the process ofexploring and discussing issues that affected the nation. Hepreferred working with small groups of individuals who had theability to focus their discussion and knowledge on solving specificproblems.
Bystudying Carter`s approach to solving problems and developing policy,one may assume that he was more of a planner and moralist as opposedto a politician (Hargrove 16). However, Carter`s commitment tolong-range plans and comprehensive solutions proved that he couldalso play the role of a politician. Carter`s experience as a Governorguided his actions in Washington. A domestic policy analyst contendedthat Carter perceived himself as having achieved significant progressin areas such as the reform of the education sector to reorganizingthe way education agencies financed state education. Also, Carterunderstood his leadership approach as being antithetical to thebargaining and compromising tactics that legislators adopted.
Inspite of his ability to act and think like a politician, Carterapproached policies differently. For example, Carter avoideddeveloping policy ideas with the intention of garnering widespreadsupport (Hargrove 17). Carter often rejected the notion of developingor implementing policies with the aim of realizing particularpolitical gains. For example, Clark Clifford advised Carter torefrain from signing the Panama Canal Treaty, recognizing China, andmediating between Israel and Egypt. Clifford contended that all theseoptions would influence domestic politics negatively.10Carter ignored Clifford`s advice because he believed that his actionswould result in the wellbeing of the American society as a whole, asopposed to only advancing his political ends. In the end, thesemeasures came to be viewed as some of Carter`s greatest achievements.However, despite his seemingly disdainful nature, Carter listened toadvice offered to him by his advisers, especially on domestic policyissues.
AlthoughCarter was very prudent in the development and implementation ofpolicies, his administration faced numerous challenges. To beginwith, Carter`s administration came under heavy criticism in 1979,during the energy crisis. During the wake of the Iranian revolution,in December 1978, Iran resorted to cutting its oil supply byapproximately two million barrels per day (Haidar 113). TheOrganization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) tookadvantage of this period to hike oil prices. By the summer of 1979,oil prices had increased by 50%. Although this sudden increase in oilprices was not Carter`s fault, he had to move swiftly to lessen theburden placed on the American citizenry. Carter delivered a speechthat moved the nation from focusing on the issue of gas prices toviewing the oil problem in terms of a loss in confidence of theproper functioning of the government.
Carter`sspeech was followed by the pro forma resignation of the entirecabinet, in addition to twenty-three senior White House staff (Haidar115). This purge was intended to be an extension of the speech thatCarter had made. Legislators and analysts became doubtful that Carterunderstood how to run the federal government and, at the same time,cast aspersions about his leadership ability. Carter believed that anantigovernment change was essential to enhancing democratic faith.Carter viewed government officials as inept and corrupt. However, inthe end, Carter only accepted five resignations. Carter`sreappointment of the same officials that he had forced to resignbrought his ratings down significantly.
Carter`sforeign policy, regarding the Iranian hostage crisis, also frustratedhis administration (Haidar 115). This incident strained Carter`sacumen with both his advisers and the public. On the 4th of November,1979, about one thousand American militants who loathed America forsupporting the Shah surrounded the embassy walls of the US and tookcontrol of the compound. These militants turned fifty-two Americanhostages into puppets in a show depicting the Iranian revolution.This crisis stained Carter`s administration during its final year formaintaining that it would not resort to military intervention overthe course of the 444 days of the hostage crisis. The masses viewedCarter as a dovish head of the American military. Reason being,instead of using military intervention, Carter opted to maintain hispersonal moral ground through Operation Eagle Claw. This operationonly made things worse. A terrible convergence of life-threateningcircumstances concerning a helicopter crash and a sandstorm in thedesert led to the death of eight US servicemen (Haidar 115).Ironically, Carter`s attempt to preserve human lives had resulted inthe loss of life. The masses perceived this happenstance as a failureon the part of the government.
Lastly,the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan also took place during Carter`sfinal year of office (Haidar 115). Once again, Carter resorted todiplomacy. He backed away from the SALT II treaty, imposed a grainembargo and an Olympic boycott. In spite of all these implicit andsincere efforts to prevent the Soviets from carrying out an attack onAfghanistan, the attack was launched.
Ina recap of the above discussion, was the 39th Americanpresident. He ventured into the political world in 1962, after beingelected to Georgia’s Senate. As a senator, Carter introduced somechanges he changed the manner in which employees in the governmentof Georgia undertook their activities. In 1966, he lost his firstgubernatorial campaign but regained entry into the political world in1971 after being elected into office as Georgia`s 76th governor. Histerm as Georgia`s governor helped him to understand the world ofpolitics as well as institute a number of changes in the process ofpolicy formulation in Georgia. In 1974, Carter decided to announcehis bid for the presidency of the United States he won his party`snomination (Democratic National Convention) and was elected intooffice as America`s president in 1976. `s term extendedfrom January 20th, 1977 to January 20th, 1981. Carter influenced thepolitics of the United States profoundly due to his strong politicalstand on issues affecting the nation. Nevertheless, his term asAmerica`s president was also faced with numerous challenges, asdiscussed above.
1DannyHaidar. ": A Moral Hero". ErasJourna 16.2(2015): 110. Web. 7 July 2016.
4ErwinC. Hargrove. JimmyCarter as President.Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1988. Print.
5JimmyCarter. OurEndangered Values.New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005. Print.
Carter,Jimmy. OurEndangered Values.New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005. Print.
Haidar,Danny. ": A Moral Hero". ErasJourna 16.2(2015): 110. Web. 7 July 2016.
Hargrove,Erwin C. JimmyCarter as President.Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1988. Print.
Maidadi,Ismaila, Giavana Margo, and Tese Wintz Neighbor. "THE WORLD OFJIMMY CARTER". (2011): 2. Web. 7 July 2016.