Government, POLITICS

Did Jimmy Carter Call It Right?

Photo Credit: Wikipedia - James Earl "Jimmy" Carter.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia – James Earl “Jimmy” Carter.

“If fish deh a river bottom an tell yuh seh alligator have gum boil, believe him” is a popular Jamaican proverb which means “listen to the voice of experience.”

The Jamaican proverb above must have been the lens through which some people viewed former President Jimmy Carter’s public utterances regarding the reaction and treatment of various members and sectors of the society towards President Obama.

Jimmy Carter (James Earl Carter, Jr.) served as the thirty-ninth president of the United States. He was born on October 1, 1924, in the small farming town of Plains, Georgia. He grew up in the nearby community of Archery.

Carter grew up at a time when the political and social divide between blacks and whites in the United States was at best hollow.

Moreover, it was a period known for its segregation, poll taxes, mob lynching, disfranchisement, and political violence against blacks, among many other injustices meted out to members of the black community.

He led the Democratic Party and served as president of the United States from January 20, 1977 to January 20, 1981. During his leadership of the country, he was at times a victim of bitter and unfair criticisms.

Therefore his alarm at the extent of the treatment meted out to president, Barak Obama in his attempt to govern the country is warranted.

“When a radical fringe element of demonstrators and others begin to attack the president of the United States as an animal or as a reincarnation of Adolf Hitler or when they wave signs in the air that said we should have buried Obama with Kennedy, those kinds of things are beyond the bonds,” said Carter at the time, in an address to students at Emory University.
“I think people who are guilty of that kind of personal attack against Obama have been influenced to a major degree by a belief that he should not be president because he happens to be African-American,” he noted.

He further said, “It’s a racist attitude, and my hope is and my expectation is that in the future both Democratic leaders and Republican leaders will take the initiative in condemning that kind of unprecedented attack on the president of the United States.”

Carter followed this up later in an interview with NBC Nightly News by saying, “I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity towards President Barak Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he is African-American.”
“I live in the South, and I’ve seen the South come a long way, and I’ve seen the rest of the country that shares the South’s attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African-Americans.”

Now, many people will argue that Carter’s view is wrong and ascribe it to one that belongs to the dustbin of history. Some will even claim that the vexed issue with the current president is one of policy and playing the race card is a step in the wrong direction.
Notwithstanding, the question is what accounts for the checkmate on every move the president makes in trying to govern and lead the country forward.

Certainly, there has been a strong philosophical divide, vigorous debate, and tough partisan competition before. However, both parties were able to work together and compromise to pass budgets and implement new programs to the benefit of the American people.
It happened under former President Ronald Regan and speaker of the House of Representatives, Tip O’neill, Jr., the outspoken liberal Democrat as well as under Bill Clinton former Democratic President and the Republican Party controlled Congress led by Newt Gingrich.

Today, the country seems to be in a crisis management mode and one gets the impression that there is a grudge match between the President and members of the leadership of the Republican Party.

Consequently, every decision made by the president is met with strong opposition and obstacles created by the Republican Party.

Of course, one does not expect the president’s agenda to be rubber stamped by the opposition Republican Party. However, a democratic country cannot be governed without compromise between or among parties.

So, again, what is so different this time in getting the Republican Party to compromise now that an African-American is the president?

Could it be that in their quest to claim back the White House, they will do anything necessary to stop President Obama and his agenda, thus making him a failed president? Or could there be some germ of truth in former President Carter’s utterances? ∅

 Yvad Billings, Readers Bureau, Fellow