Jimmy Carter photo

Columbus, Ohio Remarks at a State Democratic Party Reception.

September 23, 1978

Senator Glenn, Senator Metzenbaum, Chairman Tipps, Chairman John White, Lieutenant Governor Dick Celeste, Congressman Pease, Jim Bauman, Henry Eckhard, State officials who have genuinely made not only Ohio but the entire Nation proud:

I'm grateful to be here with you. We belong to the right party. Which party has given Ohio two of the greatest Senators in Washington? The Democrats, right? [Applause] Which party has now a strong and growing majority in both houses of your State general assembly? [Applause] Democrats.

Which party now holds two-thirds of the statewide offices and is reaching successfully for 100 percent? [Applause] Democrats. Which party recognizes that one of the most important challenges of this year is to have a man in whom we have utmost faith, who cares about the people of your State, who will occupy the statehouse as Governor of Ohio? The Democrats, right? [Applause]

One thing that concerns me is which party is going to have a majority of Congressmen from Ohio for the first time in many years, maybe forever, who are Democrats. The Democratic Party, right? [Applause] We need to pick up the 12th District.

And also, I'd like to ask you another question. Which party has finally got itself out of debt and tonight is raising $100,000 to give to candidates to win the elections this fall? [Applause] The Ohio Democrats.

One of the greatest things is, which party welcomed a lonely peanut farmer, helped him get the nomination, and then 2 years ago, in November, gave our party's nominee a strong, solid majority in this State that put him over the top and let him become President of the United States? Again [applause] .

The Ohio Democrats have made tremendous strides in the past few years. Paul Tipps' leadership was an incremental part and an essential part of this progress. But he knows even better than I can say that one man can't turn a State political organization around and achieve the tremendous victories that you've realized here in Ohio.

The Democratic Party has a certain quiet strength that becomes aroused on occasion when the needs are most visible and most urgent. The Democratic Party quite often is divided within itself. And almost invariably, that's the cause for losses on election day. The Democratic Party, quite often in different places in our Nation, has not always been unified in its efforts because of a divisive nature of hard-fought, personal campaigns in the primary elections.

You've now been able to overcome these handicaps of the past. But never in all the time of our party in the last 200 years, when it was in its unrecognized and even embryonic state in the early years, have we lost a vision of the basic elements of what we stand for.

The Democratic Party is not one that says no. We are a party that says yes. The Democratic Party is one that realizes it's best to put our Nation's investment in people. We're not a party that reaches down to others and considers them less worthy than we. We are a party that reach out to others and say, "Let me help you join the part of constructive society that's been such a blessing to me."

We're the party who believes that black and white people, those who speak good English, those who don't speak good English, those who live in the North and the South, those who are employed, those who are searching for jobs—all have an opportunity to work together for a better life for all.

On occasion, we've not been successful in achieving these ideals and goals. But we've never lost the vision of what ought to be.

We've seen a great change in our country in the last 20 months, where we've had an opportunity for a Democratic President in the White House, for the first time in 8 years, to be able to work in harmony with a Democratic Congress.

I campaigned for 2 years around our country, and I've never lived nor served in Washington before. But when I was finally inaugurated as President with your help, I knew, I think very clearly, what the American people wanted, what their needs were, what their frustrations were, what their doubts were, and what were their hopes and aspirations for the future.

When I became President, we had 10 million Americans who didn't have a fulltime job. We had about 7 million Americans who didn't have a job at all. The unemployment rate had been rising for 8 years, and it reached the highest level in a long time, 8 percent. We began to work together with the help of many of you, not just for government programs but to revive the strength of our free enterprise system in which we believe so deeply.

We've had a net increase in the last 20 months of 6 million jobs. And now the unemployment rate is below 6 percent, holding steady, going down. Many people who had been deprived of a chance for employment all their lives now have a chance. People who had given up hope and weren't seeking jobs have now put their names on the unemployment roles, looking for a chance to live in dignity and self-respect for a change.

In Ohio in the last 20 months, your unemployment rate has gone from 7.8 percent down to 5.2 percent, a 33-percent decrease in unemployment in that short a period of time.

And I believe there's a new spirit in our country; that we have a conviction, exemplified by our party, that every American who wants to work can find work. And it's revived the hope and the aspirations and the confidence that people have in the future. Now we don't look upon unemployment as the most burning issue in our country. But 2 years ago, 12 months ago, it was.

I found throughout the country, too, a concern about our Government itself. Many people had lost confidence in the United States Government because of the deep wounds inflicted on our country by the Vietnam war, the Watergate scandals, the CIA revelations. A lot of people had said, "I don't want to have anything to do with politics. I've lost faith in the Government in Washington. The people that I send to hold public office have betrayed my trust." And there was a withdrawing from participation in shaping our future lives through our federal system of government.

We've begun to turn that around. I think you all know that the Congress has acted effectively to give me a chance to reorganize the structure of Government, to make it more effective, more efficient, more open. We've begun to root out corruption—it's been there for decades in the General Services Administration—to try to bring out among the employees who are very dedicated a commitment to improve their own lives, their own performance.

Civil service reform is going to pass very shortly to let those hundreds of thousands of people who have given their lives to public service on a professional career basis to be rewarded when they do good work, and those who don't do good work will either be fired or moved or inspired to do better.

We've got a chance now to let managers manage and to let the Government deliver better services in a more efficient way, to restore confidence there. The Congress is now on the verge of passing a comprehensive ethics bill to apply the strictest possible standards to Members of the Congress themselves to be sure there's no taint of scandal that might be aroused in the future, as there has been in the past, with extraordinary, unrevealed gifts, even from foreign governments.

This is the kind of thing that's now sweeping through our Federal Government in Washington in answer to the concerns and the hopes and expectations of people like you.

We've had a chance to build up our Nation's strength in other ways. We're the strongest nation on Earth economically; we're the strongest nation on Earth politically; we're the strongest nation on Earth militarily. But we had lost a way to benefit from that strength. We were condemned by the vast majority of other nations on Earth.

When I was Governor of Georgia, when I was a candidate for President, I used to flinch every year at this time when the United Nations General Assembly convened, because I knew that scores, more than a hundred other nations, would make us the butt of their jokes, the target of their attacks, condemning us in resolution after resolution because we ourselves, as a government, had betrayed what our Nation formerly stood for.

And now in the last 2 years, and as the General Assembly convenes next week, we've not seen a condemnation by the poor and the black and the brown and the yellow and the weak and the new nations of the world. We enjoy not only their respect, we enjoy their friendship and their support. It's a brand new change in international affairs that brings us rich dividends. It hasn't been easy to bring it about, but it's been brought about because you have confidence in us, and we try not to betray that confidence.

Some of the things we've undertaken have been very difficult. They've cost us politically. For 14 years, under four different Presidents, we had tried to hammer out a reasonable solution to the Panama Canal question. And most of my predecessors had been reluctant to bring it to a conclusion because I know that a year and a half ago, only 8 percent of the American people favored a treaty with Panama. And it was hard for us to see the condemnation that fell on our Nation, because we were still looked upon by many as a colonial power who had imposed its will on a tiny nation and who felt that after Watergate, after Vietnam, we had to keep a demonstration of our power somewhat as a bully.

But we worked out an equitable arrangement. And now we have a clean slate in Latin America, and people there are beginning to look on us not as a big brother handing out financial favors, but as a partner for the future.

And we've strengthened the principles of democracy. We've also restored enough strength within many of those weak countries where communism can't-creep in and take over. And we're seeing many countries look to us now for guidance that didn't before. They're turning to us with open arms and an open heart. This is not a highly publicized evolutionary development, but it's very significant in the future of our country, because those people who live in our hemisphere are more important to us than we are to them.

And I think this is the kind of new image that our Nation has long deserved, but long lacked. We do have an investment in our own hemisphere. But there are other aspects of our lives that have changed. We are no longer the best friend of every scurrilous, totalitarian government on Earth. We're now understanding, as best we can, the motivations of people everywhere.

We have raised again, once for the people of the world to see, a banner of basic. human rights. And as long as you have let me be in the White House, and as long as I stay in the White House, we will never abandon the hopes and dreams of people who want to emulate what we have in our country—basic freedoms, basic self-respect, individualism, based on the principles that have made our Nation great. We believe in human rights. We'll keep it that way.

We've begun to take some bold steps toward peace in areas where peace has been lacking for many years, decades, generations, sometimes even centuries.

We've tried to repair the relationships between ourselves and our former enemies, to ensure the safety of American people, to prevent wars that might start with two nations, spread to their neighbors, eventually to a region, and eventually cause a Confrontation, a nuclear confrontation between the super powers.

We've moved toward restoring the relationship between Turkey and Greece, between those nations in NATO, to solve the problems on Cyprus, return human fights to that troubled island.

We've entered, for the first time, sometimes with great political danger, an effort to resolve the tortured problems of the continent of Africa. We've got friends there we didn't have before.

Secretary Kissinger, at the height of his popularity, was not permitted to cross the borders into Nigeria, the greatest black nation on Earth—strong militarily, strong politically, a great influence, a hundred million people. Now they are among our closest friends. They help us with major projects to try to bring peace to Africa. This is the kind of change that's beginning to take place.

We're working hard to get a SALT agreement with the Soviet Union. I hope it won't be long-coming in the future. We've strengthened NATO, repaired the damage that had been done between ourselves and Japan.

We've begun to work on the problems of the Middle East. I think the greatness of the leaders of Israel and Egypt has been exemplified in the last 2 weeks as they've taken a major step forward, and my prediction to you is that very shortly, after the Knesset votes, we will see a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt that I believe will last for generations in the future.

Some of these things are highly publicized, some are not. But when you arouse the slumbering problems that have been covered up too long, they are bound to be controversial.

I said last night in South Carolina that the Presidency is a lonely job. When things go wrong, the President gets too much blame. And when things go right, the President gets too much credit. It's really an exemplification by the person in the White House of what you demand and what you expect and what you will support.

I'm a farmer. And I observed with great concern during the campaign and shortly after I became President that we really had a 1930's-type depression sweeping across the farm communities of our country.

In 1977, October 1, we put into effect a new farm bill that the Members of Congress very wisely passed. We've seen a great restoration of the strength of farm families. Exports last year—highest on record in spite of very low unit prices-$24 billion. Exports this year will exceed that record. Net farm income this year will be the highest ever. It will be up $7 billion or more above last year. And farmers are beginning now to see that the Government is less and less involved in their own internal affairs.

On-farm storage lets farmers derive benefits when prices go up, and the manipulators on commodity exchanges and the large grain elevators will make less of that profit. Stable prices will benefit consumers. So, agriculture is helping as well.

We have, I think, accomplished a great deal. Many problems still face our country. In spite of the utmost efforts by myself and the Congress, we still don't have a comprehensive energy policy for our country. In the last 6 years, oil imports have increased 800 percent. In 1962 we imported $4.7 billion worth of oil. This year we will import $45 billion worth of oil.

Of all the oil used in our country now, about half of it is bought overseas. And when you take $45 billion of American money and send it overseas to pay for oil, you rob our country of that much to invest in new jobs. It creates inflation. It lowers the value of the dollar. It makes us unnecessarily dependent on uncertain foreign oil supplies in a time of crisis or national emergency.

We're trying to correct that defect in our governmental structure. And I hope and pray that before the Congress adjourns next month that they will have passed the major elements of a comprehensive energy policy.

This is the kind of difficult subject we've not been timid about facing. I think the Congress has met it well, and the people have supported us.

I've tried to restore also—and this is the last thing I want to mention—our basic system of federalism. Our country was formed when 13 States allotted certain powers to the Federal Government. They retained the other powers for themselves. And then States formed cities, towns, counties, townships. But the hope of our Founding Fathers was that there would be kind of an equal partnership, a common purpose, a team spirit of these different levels of government, and that the strongest governments will be the closest ones to the people, and that government would not intrude in the private affairs of individuals or our free enterprise system, unless it was necessary.

The few years before I became President, that structure had been, for all practical purposes, destroyed. We're trying to put it back together. We have some problems in doing it in just a few States. One of those States is Ohio. And it hurts you. No one could doubt the good intentions of all of us who serve you in Washington. I remember who put me in office, and so do the people I've chosen to work on my administration team.

I'm concerned, for instance, about the problems with Ohio coal. If the wrong decisions are made, it could cost you 12,000 jobs in your coal production industry. We need to have the kind of harmony and cooperation and partnership between Washington and Columbus, Ohio, that can solve this problem together. But we don't have it.

Every State is given the responsibility to develop air quality standards compatible with the Federal laws passed by Congress that bind us all. Forty-nine States have Governors and administrations that have evolved .acceptable air quality standards. One State has not, the State of Ohio. And this prevents our resolution of one of the most difficult questions that face all of you in the prosperity and well-being of the people who look to you and your elected officials for leadership.

We've seen changes take place in some of our basic industries. Steel is one of them. As you well know, 2 years ago, before I became President, the steel industry was sliding backward. Production had dropped off. Plant capacity was unused. Steelworkers were out of jobs. Foreign imports were flooding into our country. Dumping occurred. We've solved that problem to a major degree. Since May, we've had a trigger price mechanism designed very carefully in harmony with the labor unions representing steelworkers and the steel executives as well.

We've seen this problem turn around. We've had a net increase of 24,000 steelworkers in the last year. Domestic distribution of American steel has increased 5 percent. Exports from Japan have actually gone down in steel. Profits have gone up enormously. The second quarter profits in the steel industry this year compared to last year are up 71 percent, which means that the industry is now strong enough to begin reinvesting those profits in modernization plans to provide jobs in the future for a basic industry that's important to us all. These are the kind of things that we are trying to do in the steel industry.

In some areas we've had special problems. One of my worst concerns is in Youngstown, Ohio, where we do have a serious problem.

I can't order the free enterprise system to accommodate change or to prevent change occurring. But we do need to have a partnership evolve between the local government, like in Youngstown, the State government in the Columbus statehouse, and Washington, to make sure that the damage done to the people who live there is minimal. We do not have that kind of cooperation with the Ohio State government. We need people there who can work in harmony with us, to make sure that we do have changes made to correct this deficiency.

The last problem I'd like to point out to you is one that perhaps is of most interest to me, except maybe the military, where I had my professional career planned.

When I first went home from the Navy, I was appointed to the Sumter County Library Board. Later, I became a member of the Sumter County Board of Education. I was dismayed at the low quality of our schools, and I ran for the Georgia Senate because of my hopes that Georgia could have a better system of education. When I got there, I had one request-that I be put on the education committee. And later, I became chairman of one of the most important committees in education.

I ran for Governor on a platform of better education for Georgia children, and I was elected. And I would say that 25 percent of my time as Governor was devoted to improving the educational system in our State.

You have a State that's blessed with great material wealth, people who believe and always have believed in a better future than the past was. But in this State there is a very embarrassing situation that doesn't occur anywhere else in our Nation, so far as I know. When children whom you love and whom I love don't have a stable, adequately financed, open school system, to me that's a devastating reflection on the leadership in your State. And I hope that you can do something about that on November 7 and elect State officials, particularly a Governor who cares about schoolchildren, as you and I care so deeply ourselves.

Well, I'm thankful that you would let me come here today and tonight and talk about a few things that are on my mind. I feel that we're part of a team. In the past, that was demonstrated to my benefit because I became President, elected to the highest office in our land. But my performance there is only as good as your support while I serve.

There's a good harmony that exists between myself and those men and women on this stage. And I believe that together we can correct the problems that we still face, answer the difficult questions, and face the future with the confidence that our Nation's strength deserves.

I'm proud to be a Democrat. I'm proud to represent a party and a country that's always maintained its ideals intact.

When I ran for President, a lot of people laughed at me. And still, jokes are made because I said that I want a government as good as our people, and a lot of people said we wouldn't have a very good government. That's not true, because among the American people there's a basic honesty, a basic decency, a basic unselfishness that's waiting to be tapped even more deeply. And I think that you and I, as Democrats, have a great deal to expect, because we'll have an even better future than we already have in the greatest nation on Earth.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 8:26 p.m. at the Aladdin Shrine Temple. In his opening remarks he referred to Paul Tipps, chairman of the Democratic Party in Ohio, John C. White, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Jim Bauman, Ohio State representative and Democratic candidate for the U.S. Congress, and Henry Eckhard, former chairman of the Public Utilities Commission in Ohio.

Jimmy Carter, Columbus, Ohio Remarks at a State Democratic Party Reception. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243379

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