I did have this thought. I was thinking how Jimmy Carter left Washington in one of the most dramatic exits in recent history. Millions of us were glued to split screen television images and alternately saw the nervous expressions of hostages deplaning from Iran, juxtaposed with a kingly Ronald Reagan seated in a wing-backed chair eating jelly beans as jubilant guests at his inaugural celebration gazed on in near adoration. Then back to images of the outgoing President boarding Marine One. After a last brave-face kind of wave, the Carters were off to Georgia, pretty much broke and seemingly humiliated. So much for the White House.
Of course there are those who still say that Jimmy Carter, a very smart man, failed in Washington. But 35 years down the road, it’s pretty clear that Jimmy Carter had a higher calling that he was able to realize once he got clear of the Beltway. It’s a tough arena, and the present failure there lies in the refusal of well-funded, intractable cohorts to realize that the promise of our democracy lies in the opportunity it offers for change and reinvention to an ever-evolving we-the-people. Brilliant. But rather than given their due, progressive ideas and voices are met with fear and a relatively new phenomenon, loathing. Now, thanks to social media, the dysfunction is available to view at a tap, 24/7. Hats off to those good souls who try to persist in an honorable way in what is surely not our fathers’ House and Senate.
Short of a Martian invasion, it’s going to take a thought revolution and certainly new participation to course correct how our national government functions. In the meantime, what to do? There’s a big country outside of Washington and a bigger world outside of our borders, all intricately connected. Back to President Carter. Since leaving office, he has overseen the eradication of guinea worm disease, a brutal, crippling ailment affecting thousands in western Africa. He has monitored elections worldwide, built homes for the poor in and outside of the U.S. Free from the confines of elected office, Carter has been a vocal champion for human rights and social justice. He is a Nobel Laureate. Now, at 91 and terminally ill, he has announced that his legacy focus will be to address violence against women worldwide.
Heading to 2016, there is no shortage of opportunity to serve wherever one looks. Delaware, our nation and the world needs bright, experienced, compassionate problem solvers to dig in where they have a real chance of making a significant impact. Redirecting the ability to raise enormous sums of campaign funding to instead fuel new social ventures is a wonderful skill to bring to this mix. Jimmy Carter did it. Just sayin’, Joe.