Jimmy Carter: The 1970s Saw a Tea Party-Like Wave





[Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter (1977-81) is the author of the new book White House Diary.]

A number of readers of my new book have noted parallels between today's frustrated and even angry mood and a similar mood in the mid-1970s. Indeed, in some ways my successful campaign for the presidency in 1976 resembled the Tea Party movement of today. We capitalized on deep dissatisfaction with the policies and practices of government officials, especially those who served in Washington.

Thirty-five years ago, the American people were eager for fundamental changes after the embarrassment and lies of Watergate and the Vietnam War, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Kennedy brothers, and revelations that the CIA and top leaders had been involved in criminal acts, including murder. As a Georgia farmer, I was considered by many to have no association with these stains on our national character, while most of my opponents were stigmatized, although unjustly, because they were incumbent politicians.

My basic campaign themes were simple: to tell the truth and to guarantee that our government would be as good, honest and competent as the American people....

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vaughn davis bornet - 11/16/2010

As a Moderate Republican with nobody to vote for and nowhere to go (so to speak), as one who spent six years full time in Georgia universities (Emory, UGA), and as one who observed the collapse of moderation among Republicans in Oregon so that statewide office is denied to our point of view, it pleased me to read former President Carter's intelligent analysis in HNN and the balance in USA Today for Sept. 30. Better to read late than never.

What are we to do, those of us who grew up in the ebb and flow of Hoover vs. FDR, power in the White House, power to pass legislation with new ideas in LBJ's era, decency and friendship among Congressmen, and willingness to entertain the New rather than entrenching for permanent war to continue the Old (or make it worse).

Jimmy Carter finally says something that sounds like long range optimism about our situation, but his heart doesn't seem to be in it (or, like me, he doubts he'll live long enough to see the rejuvination of political America).

Maybe this virtually new situation of being able to spread one's voice nationwide through HNN and similar sites will make some difference. (President Carter reached me, at least, and he reassured me that there are intelligent and highly motivated people still worrying about our politics).

In general: Surely the virtues in compromise are not invisible these days. Is "what's good for us" no longer a relevant motivation? Maybe its largely true that many who would previously have risen to leadership will now sink away after one term; but surely two or six years of right thinking and acting ought to bring worthwhile results.

Who else thinks the Man from Plains has spelled it out right on the button and will speak up for America--before it's too late?

Vaughn Davis Bornet Ashland, Oregon
Emory '39, '40, UGA 1940-41


vaughn davis bornet - 11/16/2010

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