Assistant to the President for Public Liaison Exchange of Letters on the Resignation of Margaret Costanza.
To Midge Costanza
It is with regret that I accept your resignation as my Assistant, effective September 1, 1978.
Your work in my Administration has been invaluable, and your achievements have benefitted me as President and the people of our Nation. I am grateful for your efforts and for your friendship.
July 31, 1978
Dear Mr. President:
This is the most difficult letter that I have ever written.
For 20 months, I have worked hard to serve you and your administration to help you keep your commitment to a partnership with the people.
My job was to keep you from being isolated-to bring you the message of what people were thinking and feeling and needing, and there were times that required my speaking out.
I listened in the White House, and I listened as I travelled throughout the country to ethnic groups, women, minorities, youth, senior citizens, and others who wished to participate.
I care about the issues of the young and the old, of minorities and women—and most especially the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment—and I know you do too.
Although we share these common goals and concerns, it has become clear that our approaches to fulfilling them are different. I have thought about how in every government, including this one, the complexities of the problems place enormous pressures on the people whose job it is to carry out those responsibilities. Within this administration, we are people of varied backgrounds, styles and experiences, and the manner in which we carry out your charge reflects our training and orientation.
My own approach has been largely one of advocacy. I have sought to advise you on the concerns assigned to me and to present those interests and needs to you.
There are those who suggest that I should have simply carried out your policies and not voiced my own opinions and ideas openly. But that was not my style, my experience, or my interpretation of how I could best serve you and your constituents.
In recent months, I have had to deal increasingly with the subject of approach rather than that of substance, spending valuable time and energy discussing whether I have spoken out too much, what my relations are to your other senior staff, or where my office is located. The task of government is too enormous and the needs of the people are too urgent to absorb our differences in approach or to allow the time to create the atmosphere necessary to deal effectively with our goals, while sorting out the variety of our approaches.
If we could declare a recess and stop the wheels of government so that we could reconcile our diverse methods, we could perhaps come out ahead and serve the people at the same time. Since that is not possible, I have decided that at this time it is best for me to continue to search for solutions to the issues that originally brought us together, in another capacity outside the White House.
Participation in your administration may well be the most valuable experience of my life. I am mindful of that as I take my leave.
I leave with the realization that this experience will assist me as I continue to pursue my commitment to addressing the needs of the people in a different form.
I leave with the knowledge that you care about the vital issues that I have worked on, and trust that my efforts will have established a sound beginning for whomever you appoint as my successor and that the crucially important work on women's issues and domestic human rights can proceed without interruption.
I leave with the desire to cooperate in every way possible with you and your administration in the pursuit of these goals in the future.
MARGARET MIDGE COSTANZA
Assistant to the President
[The President, The White House, Washington, D.C. 20500]
Jimmy Carter, Assistant to the President for Public Liaison Exchange of Letters on the Resignation of Margaret Costanza. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/248211