Words Of Wisdom From Jimmy Carter

Yesterday, I had more than enough of articles about the anniversary of the January 6th attempted coup … I was on overload, most of the articles repeating the dire warnings of the one I had read just before and that I had previously expressed here on Filosofa’s Word.  Mind you, I understand the desire to pontificate on the events of that day and their extended outcomes, potential disasters going forward, for I have indulged in such myself.  However, there comes a point where it’s overload, time to step back and focus elsewhere for a few minutes or a couple of days.  So, today’s post was going to head off in a different direction.  Until … I read this piece in the New York Times by former President Jimmy Carter and … well, Carter is the most humanitarian president I’ve seen in my lifetime, and I respect his views.  So, without further ado, I hope you’ll bear with me for one more piece about that fateful day and its implications for our future …

Jimmy Carter: I Fear for Our Democracy

Jan. 5, 2022

By Jimmy Carter

Mr. Carter was the 39th president of the United States.

One year ago, a violent mob, guided by unscrupulous politicians, stormed the Capitol and almost succeeded in preventing the democratic transfer of power. All four of us former presidents condemned their actions and affirmed the legitimacy of the 2020 election. There followed a brief hope that the insurrection would shock the nation into addressing the toxic polarization that threatens our democracy.

However, one year on, promoters of the lie that the election was stolen have taken over one political party and stoked distrust in our electoral systems. These forces exert power and influence through relentless disinformation, which continues to turn Americans against Americans. According to the Survey Center on American Life, 36 percent of Americans — almost 100 million adults across the political spectrum — agree that “the traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.” The Washington Post recently reported that roughly 40 percent of Republicans believe that violent action against the government is sometimes justified.

Politicians in my home state of Georgia, as well as in others, such as Texas and Florida, have leveraged the distrust they have created to enact laws that empower partisan legislatures to intervene in election processes. They seek to win by any means, and many Americans are being persuaded to think and act likewise, threatening to collapse the foundations of our security and democracy with breathtaking speed. I now fear that what we have fought so hard to achieve globally — the right to free, fair elections, unhindered by strongman politicians who seek nothing more than to grow their own power — has become dangerously fragile at home.

I personally encountered this threat in my own backyard in 1962, when a ballot-stuffing county boss tried to steal my election to the Georgia State Senate. This was in the primary, and I challenged the fraud in court. Ultimately, a judge invalidated the results, and I won the general election. Afterward, the protection and advancement of democracy became a priority for me. As president, a major goal was to institute majority rule in southern Africa and elsewhere.

After I left the White House and founded the Carter Center, we worked to promote free, fair and orderly elections across the globe. I led dozens of election observation missions in Africa, Latin America and Asia, starting with Panama in 1989, where I put a simple question to administrators: “Are you honest officials or thieves?” At each election, my wife, Rosalynn, and I were moved by the courage and commitment of thousands of citizens walking miles and waiting in line from dusk to dawn to cast their first ballots in free elections, renewing hope for themselves and their nations and taking their first steps to self-governance. But I have also seen how new democratic systems — and sometimes even established ones — can fall to military juntas or power-hungry despots. Sudan and Myanmar are two recent examples.

For American democracy to endure, we must demand that our leaders and candidates uphold the ideals of freedom and adhere to high standards of conduct.

First, while citizens can disagree on policies, people of all political stripes must agree on fundamental constitutional principles and norms of fairness, civility and respect for the rule of law. Citizens should be able to participate easily in transparent, safe and secure electoral processes. Claims of election irregularities should be submitted in good faith for adjudication by the courts, with all participants agreeing to accept the findings. And the election process should be conducted peacefully, free of intimidation and violence.

Second, we must push for reforms that ensure the security and accessibility of our elections and ensure public confidence in the accuracy of results. Phony claims of illegal voting and pointless multiple audits only detract from democratic ideals.

Third, we must resist the polarization that is reshaping our identities around politics. We must focus on a few core truths: that we are all human, we are all Americans and we have common hopes for our communities and our country to thrive. We must find ways to re-engage across the divide, respectfully and constructively, by holding civil conversations with family, friends and co-workers and standing up collectively to the forces dividing us.

Fourth, violence has no place in our politics, and we must act urgently to pass or strengthen laws to reverse the trends of character assassination, intimidation and the presence of armed militias at events. We must protect our election officials — who are trusted friends and neighbors of many of us — from threats to their safety. Law enforcement must have the power to address these issues and engage in a national effort to come to terms with the past and present of racial injustice.

Lastly, the spread of disinformation, especially on social media, must be addressed. We must reform these platforms and get in the habit of seeking out accurate information. Corporate America and religious communities should encourage respect for democratic norms, participation in elections and efforts to counter disinformation.

Our great nation now teeters on the brink of a widening abyss. Without immediate action, we are at genuine risk of civil conflict and losing our precious democracy. Americans must set aside differences and work together before it is too late.

36 thoughts on “Words Of Wisdom From Jimmy Carter

  1. A great speech by a man of many merits. Though considered to be mostly a failure as a president, he has more than redeemed himself throughout the post-presidency years. This is due in great part to his tireless drive to achieve the betterment of people’s lives here at home and the world over. He said it well : “I’ve used the prestige and influence of having been president of the United States as effectively as possible. And secondly, I’ve still been able to carry out my commitments to peace and human rights and environmental quality and freedom and democracy and so forth.” WHAK!! Thank-you!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great words from Jimmy Carter, and Yes, the same opinion from a still living ex Republican President might go a long way to settling down the MAGA TRUMPISTS, BUT IT NEEDS TO HAPPEN QUICKLY.Maybe the four ex Presidents could come up with a cohesive plan to recover from the current situation and guide the people back to the right path. But someone had better make sure there is a cull on the Republican Senators who have continued the ‘Stolen election’ lie and drawn up new election plans for the states to remove any chance of fairness in future elections by removing the right to vote from so many residents.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The only living Republican former president today is George W. Bush, and he has been notably quiet of late, though he did, along with his then-living father, and Presidents Carter and Obama, take a stand immediately following the January 6th attempted coup. There are only three legitimate living former presidents now, since the death of George H.W. Bush, and you’ll notice I don’t count the former guy as one of them, nor do I imagine they think of him as such, either.

      I do sincerely hope that a number of senate Republicans are voted out of office in November, but I’m not holding my breath. Between the disenfranchisement taking place in most states and the fact that so many Democrats are retiring this year, I’m not sure where that leaves us. This is why it is IMPERATIVE that Congress get off its collective arse and pass the two voting rights bills that are currently languishing in the Senate. Sigh.
      Cwtch

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a great share Jill and reminder that pure (republic) Constitutional democracy—and land ruled by laws, not one person or one group’s whims—is almost every single week, month, year, biannually or annually, ESPECIALLY for mid-terms and quadrennial elections… is a constant struggle or battle to protect, maintain, and refine by EVERY SINGLE citizen with the privilege and obligation to do so. Otherwise, this is what happens when ordinary citizens of democracy go to sleep at the wheel, forfeiting in silence and by inaction their gifted political voice and civic virtues and duties. Republicans more so than many Democrats do NOT make this mistake—voter turnout rates over the last 4 decades reflect this jagged-pill truth, swallowed and sometimes choked on. Self-inflicted really. 😔

    If a popular former Republican President had come out publicly to state this, it would carry a lot more weight to those voters the true message/warning NEEDS to be heard by and heeded. But sadly, only because President Carter was a Democrat, most radical Republicans will flip their noses at him and ignore it. I know this to be true in Texas because I’ve had many lengthy conversations, discussions, and debates here over the last decade or so with hardcore Republicans rating and ranking America’s all-time greatest Presidents… from George Washington to Joe Biden. To Texas Republicans, Jimmy Carter is in the bottom FIVE of worst U.S. Presidents. Yep, believe it or not, they hate Carter because of the Iranian Embassy Crisis and the nation’s horrible Gas & Fuel Shortages of 1978-1979, but then somehow completely forget about Richard Nixon’s and Gerald Ford’s screw-ups and part to the fuel crisis. Funny how selective memory works in politics, huh? 🙄😄

    Liked by 2 people

    • Quite so, Prof! We can never let our guard down but must fight for our Constitutional democratic republic. We’ve heard often enough the words supposedly uttered by Benjamin Franklin after 1787 Constitutional convention, “A republic, if you can keep it.” We’ve kept it for 233 years — a long time — but can we keep it for another year or three? I’m not so sure anymore. Too many people are, in fact, asleep at the wheel, or more likely drunk on the Kool Aid they’ve been fed by the former guy.

      The only living former Republican president is George W. Bush, and he has been notably silent of late. You’re quite right about that selective memory thing, too! But then, Nixon’s crimes almost pale in comparison to Trump’s!

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  4. Pingback: WORDS OF WISDOM FROM JIMMY CARTER. | Ramblings of an Occupy Liberal

  5. Pingback: Words Of Wisdom From Jimmy Carter — Filosofa’s Word – Paul's blog

  6. Jill, thanks for sharing the words of Carter. I found it interesting that even Donald Trump called Jimmy Carter for advice when he was president. That surprised me some, but it showed that even a Trump knew how good a person Carter is. Thanks, Keith

    Liked by 4 people

    • Really? I don’t think I ever knew that! Amazing that the former guy, who thought he knew everything better than anyone else, ever asked anybody for advice! Carter is a good person, a man of his word, and a humanitarian. His work with Habitat For Humanity proves that.

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      • Jill, the subject was China, who Trump was worried would overtake the US as the number one economy. Carter told him that has been projected to happen for years regardless of anything the US could do. What Carter probably did not tell him and what Trump failed to realize is he hastened the China upswing by backing out of the Trans Pacific Partnership early on and through hobbling the effectiveness of NATO and the EU through tariffs and obstinance. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ahhhh … I don’t know how I missed that, but thanks for filling me in! Yes, he backed out of anything that had Obama’s footprint on it and delayed our response to environmental issues by pulling out of the Paris Accords, likely exacerbating the problem of climate change not only for the U.S., but for every nation on the globe!

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  7. Pingback: Words Of Wisdom From Jimmy Carter — Filosofa’s Word [Reblog] | The Ramblings of E.M. Kingston

  8. His words are golden and true. He said everything that needed to be said and more. I never had the pleasure of knowing him as my President, but I wish I would have. The first president I ever remember is Reagan. Thanks for sharing his words, Jill. I am going to reblog this as well.

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  9. Good words, thank you, Jill, for letting us read them. But, (there is always a but, isn’t there?), it looks like it comes too late. The Republicans have already convinced their voters that they are the true Americans, and those on the other side are their enemies. They leave no room for negotiation, nor do they want to even try.
    It has become all about power, and the Republicans are willing to be ruthless, which gives them a distinct advantage over non-Republicans. Fot them, the end justifies the means, and if they get the end they want –power — they will never relinquish it again. Poor boy Trump is already regretting he allowed the election of 2020 to take place. But he really believed he would win, and he went insane when he lost. We really should feel sorry for him, but how can we? He is a dawdering old fool who really believed he was the smartest man in the world. His ego cannot take the rejection.
    But his contribution to American politics could be the very thing that kills America. He made it okay to lie, to cheat, to steal, and above all (in his mind) to hate!
    And now friend hates friend, and family member hates family member. He is not responsible for whites hating people of colour, but he is responsible for telling his side that it is okay to hate openly and loudly. He is responsible for denying Climate Disasters. He is responsible for selling out the American people to his Big Business friends and associates. He is responsible for giving religious Evangelicals the freedom to believe they are better than anyone else. AND HE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR NOT FIGHTING COVID and making his followers refuse to work for the good of all (even while he himself if double vaxxinated and even BOOstered). AND HE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR SENDING A MOB TO ATTACK CONGRESS TO TRY TO OVERTURN HIS LOST ELECTION!!!!!
    In four years he changed the face of America, not to help Americans, but to help himself and his cronies. They grow richer whist almost everyone else grows poorer.
    There may be some slight hope that good Americans can still turn this around, but all the evidence, both real and circumstantial, says different. And I hope this little comment helps you to try harder to save your nation. I would love to be proved wrong!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I would argue that Trump never actually believed he would win … there was NO basis for such a belief, and even his own advisors had warned that he was unlikely to win. What he did believe, though, was that he could find a way to overturn the election results, and to hell with the laws of the land, to hell with the voters. He began paving that road long before the election, which in my book is proof that he knew he couldn’t win honestly, so he intended to remain in office by hook or by crook.

      But you are so right when you say he has changed the face of this nation, he has lowered the bar for political office and made a mockery of the presidency. Biden alone will not be able to fix all that Trump broke, and in truth, I don’t know what will happen when Biden leaves office, especially if Trump is allowed to run and possibly win again, whether honestly or not. I don’t imagine I’ll be around to find out, and that’s okay by me.

      Yes, we can still turn this around, but it’s going to require more than just words … it’s going to require that we all open our minds and learn from the past, and then that every eligible person gets out and VOTES. I know you aren’t a fan of voting, but in a nation such as ours, it truly is the only best way to bring about change.

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      • I will give you that last statement, but only for the 2022 and 2024 elections. If there are any elections after that, and if I am still here, I will return to my default beliefs about elections: You are voting for the best of two bad choices, and you get what you are voting for, bad politicians.

        As for the basis of my claim about believing he would win the election (despite all his electioneering and preparations for defeat) he did not declare a state of emergency and suspend all elections. HIS EGO COULD NOT LET HIM THINK HE WOULD LOSE! His ego is as out of touch with reality as he is.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Well, I’ll take what I can get. I know your thoughts about elections and voting, and it’s an issue on which we will likely always disagree, but … so what? We’re both adults and can agree to disagree without letting it interfere in our friendship.

          I think the only reason he didn’t declare a state of emergency to postpone the election was because the military leaders warned against it, said they would not support it, and without being able to call in the military, he had no chance of keeping peace in a state of emergency. He knew good and well he couldn’t win, else why would he have hired over 1,000 lawyers to fight to overturn the results even BEFORE the election took place? You’re right about his ego, but I think that he knew he would lose at the polls and was hoping for another means of staying in office. I truly fear what will happen in 2024 if he is allowed to run and if the Republican voters still have their heads in the sand.

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    • I certainly hope it will never happen again, but the reality is that few people so far have paid a price for their actions leading up to and on that day, so until or unless we charge and imprison those who had a role in plotting this coup, it is almost certain to happen again with the next presidential election. And, even if there is no violent coup attempt, the states are taking matters into their own hands, making it harder for people of colour and the poor/elderly to vote, and also putting diehard Republicans in charge of overseeing elections. Sigh. xx

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