Jimmy Carter was the 39th President of the United States. He may have only served a single term in the White House, but his political contributions were undeniably significant in American history. This research paper aims to discuss Jimmy Carter’s journey to the White House, the characteristics of his presidency, and the achievements and problems of his administration. Campaign and Election James Earl Carter, Jr. —or popularly known as Jimmy—announced his candidacy for president on December 1974.
Two years prior, he became the chair of the Democratic Governor’s Campaign Committee; in 1974, he also became the campaign chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Despite his exposure to fellow Democrats and his political experience, Carter’s profile initially failed to register to the American public. In 1976, aside from Carter, there were also nine Democrats who sought to be nominated, most of whom were more popular than him. Fortunately for Carter, the American people began to respond to him. His low profile and underdog image began to work to his advantage.
Due to the Watergate scandal and the Vietnam problems that plagued the previous administration, Carter’s image fit America’s need for a new kind of leader. Therefore, it was no surprise that his slogan read: “A Leader, For A Change”. He won more than half of the primaries, including the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. At the Democratic Convention, on the first ballot, Carter already won the nomination. He then picked Minnesota Senator Walter Mondale as his vice presidential running mate. Being the official Democratic presidential candidate, Carter was faced against the incumbent President Gerald Ford.
The latter was appointed to the vice presidential post by President Richard Nixon, and became an “unelected” president when Nixon resigned as Chief Executive. It was Ford’s association with the problematic Nixon administration that failed to gain him support from the American people. Carter did have an apparent advantage over Ford, but this did not mean he did not have problems of his own. In what seemed to be a serious campaign mistake, Carter agreed to a Playboy Magazine interview, much to the disapproval of many Americans.
Despite this setback, Carter was elected president in November 2, 1976, receiving 297 electoral votes; Ford only received 241 votes. Carter was born in Georgia, in a farming town called Plains. His father, James Earl, Sr. , was a farmer. When his father died, Carter took over the family farms. Thus, it was not surprising that he approached his presidency the same way he did a farm. Unlike other American presidents, Carter possessed that down-to-earth, Southern charm. He was inaugurated on January 20, 1977. On his way to the White House, he left the limousine and walked instead, much to the alarm of the Secret Service.
Instead of a formal attire for his inauguration, he chose a business suit; he also addressed the public in a cardigan sweater. Moreover, the celebration that followed the inauguration of Carter was laid back compared to past presidents. Carter was different from other Democratic politicians because of his Southern background. First of all, due to his Baptist upbringing, he placed great importance on religion and moral values. He believed in the capacity of science and technology to help humanity. He upheld that leadership should further the common good.
Lastly, he tried to be an example for the American people by being honest. Domestic Affairs In terms of domestic matters, Carter tried to make some changes, some of which succeeded. However, most of his proposals were rejected by Congress. This was because at the beginning of his presidency, Carter already disapproved the “pork barrel,” a move that Congress opposed. Moreover, Carter disliked the widespread “backroom dealings” in Washington, which again failed to put Congress on his side. As a result, Congress rejected the “consumer-protection bill” and the “labor reform package.
” Carter fought back; he vetoed a “public works package,” citing it as a cause for inflation. Despite his problems with Congress, Carter was still able to enact some reforms. He resisted the funding for B-1 bomber planes, and on June 30, 1977, he stopped its production altogether. The other successes Carter had with Congress include: increase in minimum wage, establishment of fund for toxic sites clean up, the deregulation of transportation industries, and the decrease in transportation expenditure, which benefited people in the industries and consumers alike.
Among his domestic achievements, the most notable was his energy policies. Early on, Carter recognized America’s excessive consumption of oil, spending most of what the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) produced. In addition, oil prices were soaring, which presented yet another problem for him. In February 2, 1977, Carter signed the Emergency Natural Gas Act, which enabled the government to allot natural gas in the different states. On August 4th of the same year, he established the Department of Energy, which served to govern existing energy sources and finance research for alternative energy sources.
He eradicated Joint Committee on Atomic Energy and stopped the subsidy of Clinch River Breeder Reactor. Carter was also focused on environmental issues. He pushed for the protection of several acres of Alaskan lands, as well as the establishment of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, which regulates strip mining. His other national achievements include the foundation of the Department of Education and strengthening of the Social Security System.