Jimmy Carter: Moral Leadership

Subject: History
Pages: 7
Words: 1945
Reading time:
7 min
Study level: PhD

The given work is devoted to the cogitations about the image of the 39th President of the USA Jimmy Carter. Being elected in rather complicated period of time, he is often taken as one of the most contradictory presidents of new time. That is why, the main aim of the given paper is to analyze the main events of Jimmy Carters life and activity in order to understand better peculiarities of his rule and what factors influenced their appearance. Attention is given to Carters moral and leadership qualities. Moreover, the given paper outlines the main traits of Carters foreign and domestic policy and analyzes the main reasons of his failure. At the end of the work conclusion is made and the importance of Jimmy Carter as the moral leader is underlined.

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There is no use denying the fact that the history of humanity is written by leaders. They influence the way in which states develop and the main peculiarities which societies obtain. Throughout all the history of our world such personalities as Alexander the Great, Caesar or Napoleon changed the direction in which society moved and created various stimuli for its further development. They managed to do it because people followed them, being affected by their outstanding leadership qualities. The times of great personalities have passed, though, even nowadays there are people who can influence conscience of nations and determine a certain development of social thought. Especially powerful the influence of these people becomes when they obtain posts which guarantee them extreme power. That is why, nowadays the whole world knows the names of the Presidents of the USA or Russia, as these countries are the most influential now. It goes without saying that to be the President strong will and leadership qualities are needed. Resting on these facts, it is possible to say that Jimmy Carter, the ex president of the USA, obviously has these qualities.

He was born in rural Georgia and raised by the farmer. It should be said that even in his childhood, Carter showed the grounds of good leadership qualities and strict moral rules. Raised as Baptist, he obtained his own unique moral and attitude towards certain issues. Moreover, in his childhood Carter often played with children of black people who lived not far from their house. Mainly due to this fact Carter obtained ideas of tolerance and democracy as his father had pro segregation views. Moreover, young Jimmy entered the Naval Academy in 1943. It was his cherished dream and due to this fact he turned out to be a good soldier and, moreover, he was chosen for some secret project connected with submarines. Nevertheless, it becomes obvious that these facts of Carters life influenced his mentality, worldview and the attitude of people towards him. It is a well known fact that military are usually taken as more trustful and reliable people. That is why, Carters naval career obviously contributed a lot to the development of his political career and views.

Having retired, Carter tried himself in agricultural sphere, however, it did not become the main business of his life. In several years he decided to start his political career. It is possible to suggest the idea that being a strong leader and having his own vision of the development of the USA, Carter could not stand on the sidelines of the political life of the country. He was a real patriot and has an ideal vision of his own country, deprived of a great number of problems, prejudices and remnants of the past. That is why, having started as the member of different civil movements, Carter soon became Georgia state senator and some years later he was chosen as the Governor of Georgia. It should be said that such a blistering development of Carters career became possible due to a certain combination of circumstances. It was the period when movement against segregation obtained especial power and popularity and Carter, with his tolerant views on racial issues, was taken as the politician of new a kind, who would be able to change society. Moreover, his charisma and leadership qualities also influenced people who started to associate their thirst for changes with Carters image.

That is why, Carters presidency was only the question of time. The thing is that the U.S. society of that time needed changes badly. It was the era of cold war and opposition in society as depressed minorities understood their rights and wanted to obtain them, while people who adhered to the stereotypes of the past, tried to save existing state of society. Moreover, blistering development of nuclear weapons led to the appearance of pessimistic moods in society. Under these conditions, not only a person with strong will, but a man with outstanding moral qualities and humanistic mentality was needed. That is why ,Jimmy Carter became the 39th President of the USA. In his inaugural speech Carter stated that the attempt to reduce the number of nuclear weapon and outlined the necessity of partnership in order to achieve this very aim. Moreover, he stated the fact that the time to get rid of the manifestations of segregation in the American society had come. These points of his speech showed the main tasks and principles according to which the whole presidency of Jimmy Carter would be organized. The accent was made on humanistic issues which could improve the state of people in the country and guarantee them inner balance.

Resting on these facts, it is possible to say that the policy of Carter during his presidency was rather ambivalent and unique at the same time. Speaking about foreign policy, it should be said that the President wanted to guarantee security to the whole world, trying to make a compromise with the USSR and outline some common approach to armaments drive. The SALT II appeared as the result of his attempts to reduce the number of nuclear weapons (Worthington, n.d). This step showed great moral qualities of Carter as a leader as signing this pact, the President underlined predominance of his humanistic priorities compared with militarist aims. Moreover, his dialogue with Brezhnev was another evidence of the attempt to end the era of opposition. Thus, it should be said that some of this steps in the foreign policy could be taken as a great failure. Afghanistan war and Iran hostage crisis are often mentioned as the great fiascos of Jimmy Carter as the President.

His domestic policy was no less controversial. First of all, having become the president under a slogan of desegregation of society, Carter devoted much attention to this issue. Under the influence of the President, society had to realize that the time to change old stereotypes had come and that people of the USA should be consolidated if they wanted to achieve success. However, financial policy of Jimmy Carter was disastrous. Being a beginner in the sphere of economics and policy, Carter was not able to get rid of idealistic ideals and introduce some severe measures which could help to stabilize economy of the USA. That is why, being broken by Vietnam war, the USA did not manage to recover during the presidency of Jimmy Carter. This fact became one of the main reasons of Carters defeat in next Presidential elections.

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In general, it should be said that the presidency of Jimmy Carter could be described as the combination of incompatible ideas. He became the leader of the nation when the crisis of the institution of presidency could be observed. The thing is that the trust for it was ruined by the authoritarian rule of Nixon, who concentrated a great power in his arms and made important decisions by himself. Additionally, a great number of the cases of abuse exercise of power, which became known at the end of Nixons presidency, only made the things worse. Due to this fact the leader of a new type was needed. Jimmy Carter was the politician of this sort. He did not belong to political elites and he could not use all mechanisms of power which were available for the President to satisfy his own needs. Moreover, being an idealist, he was rather naive and not spoiled by the influence of Washington. He was a simple farmer from the south, religious and shy. These traits of character made Carter a perfect moral leader, who, however, was doomed to remain unappreciated and underestimated. His attempts to limit the power of the President were not accepted by public. Desire to get rid of formal sides of his post, which added frippery to the issue of presidency, was taken as an oddity and the attempt to impress public. Moreover, being a politician of a new kind, Carter did not want to be surrounded by spoiled politicians and the process of reorganization of the White House was started. Young specialists with fresh ideas became the new residents in this building as Carter believed that the USA needed new ideas which could help people to get out of political, economical and psychical crisis (Hetzberg, n.d.). However, youth means not only new fresh ideas but also the lack of experience, which was very important for political games and back door actions of the White House. Carter was not able to align connection with political elites of the country and obtain their support. That was why, being a strong moral leader, he was not able to change traditional patterns of distribution of power within a state, and, as a result, was not able to influence development of the USA greatly. His defeat in presidential elections became the result of these very controversies.

However, the life of Jimmy Carter as the ex president of the USA just underlines his strong moral values and adherence to the ideas of humanism. He became the only president of the USA who was awarded the Nobel Prize after the presidency. This fact could be taken as a great evidence of his moral leadership. He founded Carter Center which main aim became the attempt to guarantee peaceful settlement of various conflicts all over the world. Due to the activity of this very center a great number of people all over the world saved their homes and several potential military conflicts were stopped. Besides, Carter is also famous for his struggle with Dracunculiasis in Asia and Africa. Due to his efforts the number of people who suffer from this illness reduced from 3,5 million to 1500 people. (Cardoso, 2015). This kind of activity shows the Jimmy Carter does not leave his ideas of humanism and still tries to help people all over the world. Having failed as the President of the USA, he, however, decided to continue his struggle for the better world which would be deprived of wars and segregation. Additionally, his humanism and tolerance are combined with outstanding bravery which could be proved by his participation in liberation of the citizen of the USA in North Korea. He arrived in the state which considers the USA to be its enemy and managed to achieve success.

With this in mind, having analyzed the main facts connected with the activity and life of Jimmy Carter, it is possible to make a certain conclusion. Being rather contradictory President, he, though, turned out to be a strong leader with outstanding moral qualities which helped him to obtain love and respect even after his presidency. He was raised by farmers from the south in adherence with strict moral values and principles and he managed to save them and not to become corrupted by power. Resting on these facts, it is possible to call Jimmy Carter one of the most outstanding moral leaders of our time.


Cardoso, F. (2015). Jimmy Carter, “A Great Moral Leader of Our Time,”. Americas Quarterly. Web.

Hetzberg, H. (n.d.). Jimmy Carter. Web.

Worthington, E. (n.d.). Jimmy Carter calls for moral leadership, an end to drone attacks and the closure of Guantanamo. Web.