Notable Quotes
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Let us learn together and laugh together and work together and pray together, confident that in the end we will triumph together in the right.

JIMMY CARTER, Inaugural Address, Jan. 20, 1977

Early on, when Rosalynn was visiting the White House, some of our staff asked the chef and cooks if they thought they could prepare the kind of meals which we had enjoyed in the South, and the cook said, "Yes, ma'am, we've been fixing that kind of food for the servants for a long time."

JIMMY CARTER, White House Diary, Jan. 20, 1977

Any system of economics is bankrupt if it sees either value or virtue in unemployment.

JIMMY CARTER, DNC acceptance speech, 1976

In every instance that I have known of with confrontation with the government and the press, the press was always right. So keep it up.

JIMMY CARTER, attributed, Thanks for the Memories, Mr. President (Helen Thomas)

Because of the heavy emphasis that was placed on Soviet-American competition, a dominant factor in our dealings with foreign countries became whether they espoused an anti-communist line. There were times when right-wing monarchs and military dictators were automatically immune from any criticism of their oppressive actions. Our apparent commitment was to protect them from any internal political movement that might result in the establishment of a more liberal ruling group. Instead of promoting freedom and democratic principles, our government seemed to believe that in any struggle with evil, we could not compete effectively unless we played by the same rules or lack of rules as the evildoers.

JIMMY CARTER, Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President

I would say that the quarters at the White House are quite similar to those we enjoyed as the governor's family in Georgia, but I have been constantly impressed--I almost said overwhelmed--at the historical nature of the White House, occupied for the first time by our second president, John Adams. When I see a desk or a writing cabinet or a book or a sideboard or a bed that was used by Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt or Truman or Kennedy, I have a feeling of almost unreality about my being president, but also a feeling of both adequacy and determination that I might live up to the historical precedents established by my predecessors.

JIMMY CARTER, White House Diary, Jan. 20, 1977

Some devout Christians are among the most fervent advocates of the death penalty, contradicting Jesus Christ and justifying their belief on an erroneous interpretation of Hebrew Scriptures. "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," their most likely response, overlooks the fact that this was promulgated by Moses as a limitation- a prohibition against taking both eyes or all of an offender's teeth in retribution.

JIMMY CARTER, Our Endangered Values

I can't deny I'm a better ex-president than I was a president.

JIMMY CARTER, interview with reporters during breakfast at Ritz-Carlton Hotel, reported in the Washington Times, Nov. 3, 2005

The most serious and universal problem is the growing chasm between the richest and poorest people on earth. Citizens of the ten wealthiest countries are now seventy-five times richer than those who live in the ten poorest ones, and the separation is increasing every year, not only between nations but also within them.

JIMMY CARTER, Nobel Lecture, Dec. 10, 2002

The most attractive political promise made by successful new candidates is that they will bring about "change," and even longtime veterans spend much of their energy condemning the very government within which they serve. Incumbency would be a great handicap were it not for the campaign coffers filled by rich and powerful interest groups eager to reward compliant voting records.

JIMMY CARTER, White House Diary

As the President for four years, I was commander in chief of a massive military. I had three million people working under me in different ways in the U.S. government structure. I had authority to help pass laws and to negotiate treaties. I don’t have any of these authorities now, and I don’t need them. My life since the White House has been much more all-encompassing, much more enjoyable. The main thing that I’ve acquired in the last twenty-seven years has been access to the poorest and most destitute, forgotten, and suffering people on Earth. It’s not possible for a President to actually know them. But we go into the remote areas of Africa, Latin America, and Asia, and actually meet with people who are suffering and find out why. Then we try to work with them, giving them maximum responsibility for correcting their own problems. So that’s the element that’s been most beneficial to me.

JIMMY CARTER, The Progressive, May 2008

Although American medical skill is among the best in the world, we have an abominable system in this country for the delivery of health care, with gross inequities toward the poor--particularly the working poor--and profiteering by many hospitals and some medical doctors, who prey on the vulnerability of the ill. The buffer between expensive medical care and patients' ability to pay at the time of illness is provided by insurers, who collect premiums large enough to finance such a system and still retain an adequate profit for themselves. After paying insurance premiums for a time, many people have no hesitation about unnecessarily entering a hospital, receiving expensive diagnoses while they are there, staying an extra day or two, and accepting the most elaborate service and treatment. Some even see it as a way to get back their investment in the insurance premiums. At that point, both doctors and hospital owners benefit, while the patient is an unwitting contributor to higher medical costs and inequitable distribution of medical care.

JIMMY CARTER, Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President

There is a strong religious commitment to the sanctity of human life, but, paradoxically, some of the most fervent protectors of microscopic stem cells are the most ardent proponents of the death penalty.

JIMMY CARTER, Our Endangered Values

I was familiar with the widely accepted arguments that we had to choose between idealism and realism, or between morality and the exertion of power; but I rejected those claims. To me, the demonstration of American idealism was a practical and realistic approach to foreign affairs, and moral principles were the best foundation for the exertion of American power and influence.

JIMMY CARTER, Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President

Seminal changes in the news media over the past three decades have also helped create a more volatile political arena. During my last year in office, I joined with Ted Turner to celebrate the birth of CNN, and this new network provided global news coverage that was accurate, comprehensive, and objective--standards that were later partially sacrificed to meet intense competition from other channels. To gain viewers, the twenty-four-hour news channels have now come to rely on reporting that often dramatizes or exaggerates each reported rumor or fact. In addition, the more radical presentations of information or commentary have proven to be most popular, so radio and television programs, like political alignments, have tended toward extremes. An unfortunate result of the need for constant reporting--especially on Internet news outlets--has been the demise of hundreds of newspapers that have proved unable to compete, leaving major cities and towns with one merged journal, or, in some cases, none at all. The free and vigorous presentation of different opinion has been sacrificed to polarized uniformity.

JIMMY CARTER, White House Diary

We have the heaviest concentration of lawyers on Earth—one for every five-hundred Americans; three times as many as are in England, four times as many as are in West Germany, twenty-one times as many as there are in Japan. We have more litigation, but I am not sure that we have more justice. No resources of talent and training in our own society, even including the medical care, is more wastefully or unfairly distributed than legal skills. Ninety percent of our lawyers serve 10 percent of our people. We are over-lawyered and under-represented.

JIMMY CARTER, remarks at the 100th anniversary luncheon of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, May 4, 1978

I believe that anyone can be successful in life, regardless of natural talent or the environment within which we live. This is not based on measuring success by human competitiveness for wealth, possessions, influence, and fame, but adhering to God's standards of truth, justice, humility, service, compassion, forgiveness, and love.

JIMMY CARTER, Our Endangered Values

Penalties against drug use should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself.

JIMMY CARTER, Address to Congress, Aug. 2, 1977

Except during my childhood, when I was probably influenced by Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel depiction of God with a flowing white beard, I have never tried to project the Creator in any kind of human likeness. The vociferous debates about whether God is male or female seem ridiculous to me. I think of God as an omnipotent and omniscient presence, a spirit that permeates the universe, the essence of truth, nature, being, and life. To me, these are profound and indescribable concepts that seem to be trivialized when expressed in words.

JIMMY CARTER, Living Faith

The bond of our common humanity is stronger than the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices. God gives us the capacity for choice. We can choose to alleviate suffering. We can choose to work together for peace. We can make these changes -- and we must.

JIMMY CARTER, Nobel Lecture, Dec. 10, 2002

The Social Security program is a pact between workers and their employers that they will contribute to a common fund to ensure that those who are no longer part of the work force will have a basic income on which to live. It represents our commitment as a society to the belief that workers should not live in dread that a disability, death, or old age could leave them or their families destitute.

JIMMY CARTER, speech, December 20, 1977

Solid wastes are the discarded leftovers of our advanced consumer society. This growing mountain of garbage and trash represents not only an attitude of indifference toward valuable natural resources, but also a serious economic and public health problem.

JIMMY CARTER, Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, 1978

In honoring those who answered the call of duty, we do not honor war. But we honor the peace they sought, the freedoms that they fought to preserve, and the hope that they held out to a world that's still struggling to learn how to settle differences among people and among nations without resorting to violence.

JIMMY CARTER, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bill Remarks on Signing S.J. Res. 119 Into Law, July 1, 1980

We know that a peaceful world cannot exist one-third rich and two-thirds hungry.

JIMMY CARTER, Long Beach Independent, May 23, 1977

Every advance in this half-century -- Social Security, civil rights, Medicare, aid to education, one after another -- came with the support and leadership of American Labor. You have represented all the people, not just your members. You have been the voice of forgotten people everywhere.

JIMMY CARTER, Daily Labor Report, 1980


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