Today marks Jimmy Carter’s 88th birthday. Despite his detractors, Carter remains one of my heroes. When we look at a list of his accomplishments during and after his Presidency, we see that he sets a very high bar for his successors and exposes Tea Party/Republicans to be racist, bigoted, homophobic, misogynistic people who are on the wrong side of history.
During his tenure as President, Carter created the Department of Energy and the Department of Education. Yes, we used to have a President that urged Americans to conserve energy, and advocated for price controls and for technology — quite the contrast to Bush W. and Romney with their misguided notion of aggressive consumerist philosophy. We have now over 30 years of evidence that Reagan’s “Trickle Down Economics” does not work!
While Reagan took the credit for the Iran-hostage situation, it was actually Carter who set up the framework to free the hostages. It was also Carter who brokered the Camp David Peace Treaty between Egypt and Israel — no small feat.
Of course, Carter really shines after his presidency. In 2002, Carter earned the Nobel Peace Prize. He and his wife Rosalynn helped to start Habitat for Humanity, showing their dedication to addressing poverty. Sadly, we don’t even address families living in poverty anymore. Carter has also come out in support of Marriage Equality and while his faith makes it difficult for him to support abortion, he has clearly stated that he supports a woman’s right to govern her own body.
What an amazing legacy President Carter has carved: a long standing dedication to civil rights for marginalized populations and a long standing dedication working to eradicate poverty. We can only hope for more Presidents who will leave such a legacy. President Obama is certainly on his way.