By James P. Hilton
When little known Jimmy Carter first told his mother Miss Lillian, “momma, I’m running for president,” with a perplexed look on her face she sincerely (and hilariously) asked him in a slow southern drawl, “the pres-i-dent of what?!”
What a fine man! What a spectacular role model! What an extraordinarily successful life!
I had the good fortune of meeting President Carter twice.
And no I’m not a Democrat, but I have the capacity to be impressed by good, upstanding men, regardless of where they sit on the political spectrum.
And while I didn’t always agree with everything he did as President he gets an A-plus for trying real hard in the face of a ton of adversity.
Basically an obscure figure from the deep south, Jimmy Carter managed to get himself into the Oval Office precisely because of his humble demeanor, his warm smile, and his famous integrity.
At the time all America was outraged and still reeling over President Richard Nixon, who resigned in disgrace after personally authorizing the burglary and wiretapping of the opposition party (known as the Watergate scandal).
Everyone was just totally disgusted with the out of control corruption that was, and still is, Washington D.C.
Then out of nowhere appears this soft spoken, genuine, down to earth, slow talking southerner -just a disarmingly nice guy, a lowly peanut farmer, not from booming Atlanta, but from a tiny fly spot of a town called Plains, in rural south Georgia. The rest is history!
He was the right man for the time -the exact medicine America was craving!
But unfortunately, even today Washington has extremely low tolerance for men who blurt out too much truth -whether they’re Republican, loud mouth big talkers who are super rich (Trump) or Democrat, soft spoken peanut farmers who are relatively poor (Carter).
The usual forces of the entrenched rot, the so called “deep state,” that to this day retain a vice like stranglehold on our nation’s capital, had little stomach for THAT much honesty!!
They viciously turned public opinion against Carter almost immediately, and kept the pressure on -it was a relentless, up hill struggle for the entire duration of his presidency. They just couldn’t seem to boot him out that door fast enough.
Post presidency he was more impressive! He won the Nobel Peace Prize (and unlike some recent others, Carter actually deserved it!)
Whether it was faithfully teaching Sunday School classes, personally building houses for poor people into his 80’s with Habitable For Humanity, helping to cure Guinea Worm in Africa, or brokering international peace deals around the world through the Carter Center, this guy was the real deal!
The man (and his wife, First Lady Rosalynn Carter) were the living personifications of genuine Christian self sacrifice and service to all humanity, not just cheap imitations -like the self enriching, grandstanding, lip service variety we see on display everywhere these days.
But God knows, Jimmy Carter was certainly not perfect, and some of his policies were flat out disastrous. Like all of us he made some pretty big mistakes, because he was human.
But very few disagree, Jimmy Carter was an honest and decent human being.
Right now more than ever in my lifetime it is painfully obvious that America is desperately crying out for another self less, compassionate leader, a real hero.
Someone people and children can really look up to for a change -someone like Jimmy Carter.
As his life winds down I am confident that the Almighty will receive him with open arms and the words every Christian longs to hear at his life’s conclusion -“well done, good and faithful servant.”
May God bless our nation with another good man one day real soon.
We sure could use one.
Please Lord, for America’s sake, for Your name’s sake, just one more chance?!
JAMES P. HILTON is a Georgia based author, a veteran paramedic, a medical educator, and an Eagle Scout. His son and daughter are police officers.