I was doing an obituary search recently, and came across a front page article in the Tallahassee Democrat dated January 12, 1971, "Carter Takes Georgia Reins", about Jimmy Carter's inauguration as the Governor of Georgia.
At the inauguration, the U.S. Naval Academy band and the Moria Brown College Choir performed the "Battle Hymn of the Republic", putting the good old boys on notice. You have to have been a Southerner back then to understand what a shock this would have been, playing the Yankee battle hymn.
Carter said, "The test of government is not how popular it is among the powerful and privileged few, but how honestly and fairly it deals with the many who must depend upon it".
I remember reading Hunter S. Thompson's June 1976 piece in Rolling Stone magazine. Thompson had written about the 1972 Nixon/McGovern race in his book, "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail", and his endorsement of Carter was a call to alienated hipsters like me to get up and go vote for this man. It is the most influential piece that he ever wrote.
Thompson made much of Carter's Law Day address at the University of Georgia, May 4, 1974. Carter has said that it was the best speech that he ever made. If you want to get an idea of the promise of his candidacy, check it out.
I will never forget Jimmy's victory celebration on the night of the election. The Band played, "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down". He was the first president from the Deep South since the Civil War.
We did not deserve him. We mocked him for his call to conserve energy. The nascent neo-conservatives, like Jeanne Kirkpatrick, hated him for exposing human rights violations in Central and South America, when they thought opposing Communism trumped all other considerations.
Raise a glass to the most ethical president of our time, James Earl Carter.