Carter, A Symbol Of Longevity

Happy birthday to Jimmy Carter!

The 39th President of the United States of America, Mr James Earl Carter Jr. aka Jimmy Carter is the oldest former president or head of state in the world.

Former President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Mrs Eleanor Rosalynn Carter have been married for more than 75 years. Jimmy Carter is the sixth US President to be nonagenarian and the first to see his 98th birthday on October 1, 2022.

The other nonagenarian presidents were John Adams (90), Herbert C. Hoover (90), Gerald R. Ford Jr. (93), Ronald W. Reagan (93) and George H.W. Bush (94). With the exception of Ronald W. Reagan, all nonagenarian presidents spent one term at the White House. In the case of President Gerald R. Ford, he spent less a term at the American presidency.

Christian influence

The life of President Carter is influenced by the Bible. The place of his birth and his first name are Bible-related. He was born in the Georgian city of Plains.

In his book ‘Christmas in Plains’, President Carter shares memories of Christmas seasons at his birth place. Plains is related to five locations in the Bible. These are Mamre (Genesis 18:1), Moab (Numbers 22:1), Moreh (Deuteronomy 11:30), Jericho (Joshua 4:13) and Chinneroth (Joshua 11:2). Jimmy Carter is the fifth US President to be christened James.

The previous presidents called James were Madison (4th), Monroe (5th), Buchanan (15th) and Abram Garfield (20th). The 39th US President was born James Earl Carter Jr. ‘Jimmy’ was his nickname which was eventually formalized. Jimmy Carter regularly attended church as a boy.

He was (and as of 2020) a Sunday school teacher who became a deacon in the Baptist Church at Plains in Georgia. The principles of honesty and integrity he learnt in Christianity influenced his politics. Perhaps buoyed by the biblical narrative and happenings in the Middle East as a potential threat to world peace, President Carter initiated the Camp David Accords. He signed these pacts with Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in September 1978.

This established a framework for the historic peace treaty which was concluded between Israel and Egypt in March 1979. Ironically, Jimmy Carter lost the US presidential election of 1980 partly on account of his performance in the Middle East.

Georgetown experience

President Carter served as senator in Georgia from 1963 to 1967. In the Democratic Party primary election for the Georgia legislature in 1962, his opponent had the backing of the established political order. On the other hand, Jimmy Carter was largely assisted by veterans and other political amateurs.

While visiting a constituency, Carter observed at Georgetown that a ballot box was being stuffed by a supporter of his opponent. The protests from Jimmy Carter fell on deaf ears. At the count of the ballot, it was evident that Jimmy Carter would have won the election by seventy votes minus the ballot at Georgetown. Carter challenged the results.

After many hearings, he was declared winner just three days before the general election. As nominee for the Democratic Party, he did all he could and won the general election by about 1,500 votes. In 1965, Jimmy Carter won re-election more easily.

In the four years he spent in the state senate, he observed high degree of graft and patronage. Lobbyists and special interest groups obtained legislation for their cases while interest of the general public largely went unheeded.

These difficulties and challenges were the reasons that compelled Jimmy Carter to run for the governorship in Georgia. He lost the Democratic Party primary election for governor in 1966. Eventually, James Earl Carter Jr. became the 76th Governor of Georgia from 1971 to 1975.

International development

President Carter has contributed his quota not only to American politics but societies around the world. Partly based on his electoral experience at Georgetown and taking cognizance of the fact that some countries were plunged into turmoil largely as a result of electoral disputes, poverty and inequality, Jimmy Carter co-established Carter Center in 1982.

Among other things, the centre works to improve on human rights, conflict resolution, election monitoring, public health, eradication of infectious diseases and improvement in mental health.

The centre has distributed aid to some societies in certain instances. Carter Center operates in more than 80 countries. President Carter has travelled extensively to countries in which the center operates. The international community recognized and rewarded his efforts at improving the lives of people across the world. In 2002, President Jimmy Carter was awarded Nobel Prize for peace.

The writer is a teacher at Yaa Asantewaa Girls’ SHS, Kumasi
E-mail: [email protected]