It is time to raise our hats to Jimmy Carter. He was not a perfect president. He was not infallible. Without question, he is a principled moral man, who as the nation’s chief executive, consistently took action which he thought was in the best interests of the country.
It was the summer of 2013 when my son decided to write his college senior thesis on President Carter and his role in enacting Comprehensive Energy Legislation. We ventured to the Carter Library. I assumed I would sightsee in Atlanta while he toiled away in the library. Instead, upon reconsideration, I joined him for the first day of our three-day trip to see how this research expedition might unfold. I never left.
We came across a treasure trove of documents. With a team approach, I became my son’s research assistant as we embarked on this journey. What a gift, to have access to original official White House documents and to be more than a mere bystander to history. We focused on Carter’s leadership in the introduction and enactment of Comprehensive Energy Legislation. In the research process, however, we also expanded our knowledge of the inner workings of the White House while working with Congress and the extensive breadth of legislation that was completed during the Carter Administration. This included legislation focused on the creation of the Department of Energy, Public Works Jobs, Youth Employment, Clean Air Amendments, Emergency Natural Gas Act, the enactment of the Panama Canal Treaty and much, much more.
The Energy Act was passed during an energy crisis in our country. Having run his presidential campaign against Washington, Carter had a very difficult initial transition after assuming office. Many of his staff were outsiders. Despite relationship challenges, the documents showed the Administration’s methodical approach and success in guiding and assisting the passage of historic energy legislation. Through key parts of the development of a comprehensive energy policy and legislation, President Carter received input from the public to help develop an effective plan. He educated the public about the issues surrounding energy use, how Americans can be less dependent on foreign oil and how Americans can conserve energy. He planted many seeds that have remained important in our country’s current energy strategy.
President Carter’s one term deserves a re-evaluation of his many important achievements. Since leaving the White House in 1980, President Carter has been a remarkable example of our best ambassador. He left an indelible mark throughout the world through his tireless and selfless acts promoting peace, supporting Habitat for Humanity and other worthy causes.
President Carter taught us how to be better energy consumers, and how to be better citizens of our communities, this country and of the world. Thank you, Mr. President, for making the world a better place and reminding us about humanity and the human condition. You set a high bar for all of us. His wife, Rosalynn, has been a steadfast partner and team member at every stage. Thank you for sharing him with us.
Barbara Ianniello, Great Falls