Jimmy Carter - Peanut Farmer Turned President

Jimmy Carter - Peanut Farmer Turned President

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Jimmy Carter - Peanut Farmer Turned President

“President of what?” (Time, 1977, pg.5) if this is the reaction Jimmy Carter’s own family asked upon his announcement of running for president, how was he going to manage to get the country to vote for him? This ambitious decision was quite extraordinary considering Jimmy Carter had once been a peanut farmer until an accident permanently bent his thumb. The only form of political office he had held was one term as a Governor from Georgia. But Jimmy Carter realized after listening to the concerns and mood of the nation, this was an ideal time for an outsider, such as himself, to run for Presidency. America was exhausted from scandals, Watergate, from a decade of conflict, Vietnam War, and economic struggles. Jimmy Carter was about to take his plan of giving the country what it desperately wanted, and using this strategy to launch him into the role of President of the United States.
Promises
Instead of focusing his campaign on policies and programs, Jimmy Carter decided to focus on failures of the government. Undeniably his emphasis on morality in lieu of political issues gave him an edge since the race for president was on the trail of the Watergate scandals, Vietnam War, and the current economic issues. Carter made promises that people of the United States wanted to hear and needed to happen. He emphasized integrity, honesty and character while promising the public that he would not lie to them. Along with the promise that he would not lie to the American people was the promise to be good and to love. The traits and promises brought to the table were certainly part of his appeal, and enough to pull him through the beginning primaries.

Watergate Backlash
Despite the fact that Gerald Ford began his presidency as the first president not chosen by the American people, he started with high approval ratings. These ratings were rather short lived then spiraled downward when Gerald Ford on September 8, 1974, granted, Richard Nixon a full pardon for his offenses against the United States of America in the Watergate scandal. This shocking event caused many Americans to wonder if Gerald Ford himself had previously made this agreement to pardon Nixon from the beginning. Ford declared that his reason to grant the pardon as an attempt to put the scandals in the past and close the wounds, this decision only had the reverse affect.

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The American people desperately needed a leader who would not lie and betray them, but would have integrity and honor.
Vietnam War Backlash
When the Vietnam War ended in 1975, many Americans felt dispirited by the loss of the war but not only the loss but of the significant dissent at home and of the amount of U.S. casualties in Vietnam. The increasing intensity of the dissent at home did ultimately undermine America’s position at an attempt to bargain, enemies now felt they had an upper hand and if there were to be any type of conflict, they could revel over defeating the United States of America. During the campaigning process between Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, the American people were still harboring feeling of anti war sentiment. A change was needed, a fresh start was wanted, and Jimmy Carter was placing this on the table. “In his campaign, Carter promised the restore morality and honesty to the federal government. Voters were troubled by the country’s experience in the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal.” (Encarta, 2007, para. 3). Since Carter was an outsider and was not part of the scandals of Washington’s political scene, he was given an advantage to win over the American people.
Economic Struggles
Another change that was needed was an economic change for the better. In the 1960s the productivity growth had an annual rate of 3.2 percent; however, in the 1970s this rate declined to a rate of approximately 1 percent. The deficit, however, did not see a decrease but rather an increase of 66 billion dollars. A description that was commonly used in the 1970s was stagflation, which essentially meant inflation of price combined with economic stagflation. By 1974 America, once more, was in a recession. The government attempted to help by passing a tax cut but this only led to matters becoming worse. Gas prices soared, there was a widespread panic occurred when stations began to run out of gas. The faith of the American people was ruffled. Carter “stressed government reorganization, the reduction of unemployment, the continuation and expansion of government services, tax reform, and fiscal responsibility. He would, he suggested, be both compassionate and frugal” (President Profiles, 2007, para. 11).
Conclusion
The time and effort spent traveling around the United States before the campaigning process began, to listen to what Americans had to say and to survey the mood of the nation was a strategic move that led Jimmy Carter to become the nation’s president. Although he lost the popular vote 48% to 50%, he won the electoral votes 297-241. Carter was able to play on the emotions of an exhausted country. Exhausted from war, a struggling economy, and the government who betrayed them. Jimmy Carter offered integrity, honesty and character; the promises made to the American people would not only enable him to convince the country to vote for him but would answer his own family’s question of “President of what?”
(Time, 1977, pg.5).

References

Eagleton Institute of Politics, (2007). Election of 1976. Retrieved October 13, 2007, from

Eagleton Institute of Politics Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey Web site:

http://www.eagleton.rutgers.edu/e-gov/e-politicalarchive-1976.htm

Encarta, (2007). Jimmy Carter. Retrieved October 13, 2007, from Encarta Web site:

http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761566991_2/Jimmy_Carter.html

Hear the Issues, (2007). Jimmy Carter: 39th President of the United States. Retrieved

October 14, 2007, from Hear the Issues Web site:

http://www.heartheissues.com/presidents-39-jimmycarter.html

Nather D. & Kady II M., (2006, December 27). Gerald R. Ford, 38th President, Mourned by

Nation. Retrieved October 14, 2007, from The New York Times Web site:

http://www.nytimes.com/cq/2006/12/27/cq_2064.html?pagewanted=print

PBS, (2007). People and Events: The Election of 1976. Retrieved October 15, 2007, from

American Experience Jimmy Carter Web site:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/carter/peopleevents/e_1976.html

President Profiles, (2007). Jimmy Carter. Retrieved October 15, 2007, from Profiles of U.S.

Presidents Web site: http://www.presidentprofies.com/Kennedy-Bush/Carter-Jimmy.html

Time, (1977, January 03). I’m Jimmy Carter, and…. Retrieved October 14, 2007, from Time in
Partnership with CNN Web site: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,947792-1,00.html
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