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Wichita, Kansas Remarks at a Rally for Bill Roy and John Carlin.

October 21, 1978

Senator Bill Roy—doesn't that sound good? Well, it sounds good for the whole country; Governor John Carlin—that also sounds great—Congressman Dan Glickman; Congresswoman Martha Keys; distinguished officials of the Democratic Party in Kansas, which is constantly growing day by day, larger and larger, stronger and stronger; my fellow Americans who realize that we have a great country and we want to see it even greater:

It's an honor for me to come back to Kansas.

When I was first elected Governor of Georgia, there was a man whom I met in just a few days after the election, a man who was an inspiration to me and to all the other Governors who served with him, who was kind of a guide for us, and who set an example of sound management and integrity, competence, and that was Bob Docking1 And I think it's good that Kansans remember the sound statesmanship that has been exemplified in him and in your congressional delegation by Democrats.

1 Former Governor of Kansas.

I've enjoyed replacing Republicans in the White House. [Laughter] We've been trying to turn the country around, trying to manage the Government better, trying to cut redtape. When I got there the Republicans were cutting redtape, but they were cutting it lengthwise. [Laughter]

We've had a good experience in the last 20 months. But I look forward to seeing the Congress reconvene next January with Bill Roy as the first Democratic Senator to come from Kansas in, I believe, 46 years.

As you well know, he's a man of unique character and ability and background and experience. I think out of more than 200 million Americans, there .are only 350 people who have both a degree in medicine and one in law. And he's had an ability as a Member of Congress, in the House of Representatives, to assess long before some of us realized it the intense need to give better services to people, particularly in the rural and small areas, emergency medical care, and at the same time cut the cost of this kind of care that all of us need. He set up health maintenance organizations, which gave us a mechanism by which people could cooperate in preventive health care, and at the same time set up mechanisms also to spread health care in an emergency way throughout our regional areas where doctors and medical care had been scarce.

He's a man who knows how to manage money, a sound and an effective legislator, and I look forward to being with him next year. He's a man also who has Kansas blood in his veins. He's quite independent, and I don't have any doubt that when his judgment comes down to what does the President want on the one hand and what do the people of Kansas want on the other, that he's going to vote with Kansas, and I'll forgive him for that ahead of time.

And I look forward to my next trip back to Wichita, back to Kansas when you will have a Democratic Governor.

John Carlin is the kind of candidate who in a leadership position in the Democratic Party makes a Democratic President proud. He's young. He's effective. As a speaker of your house, he's shown his wide grasp of the factors that make Kansans' lives better—good fiscal management, a sound and a fair tax structure.

And one of the things I particularly like about John Carlin, as a peanut farmer, is that he's a farmer himself. [Laughter] I'm not saying that he and I are going to plot against the other Americans, but we want to make sure that the farm families of this country don't suffer.

I've read a great deal about John Carlin before I came to Kansas. The only criticism that I've seen mentioned in the national press, that we read in Washington, is that some people have accused him of being too fiscally responsible. [Laughter] And I think that's a very fine criticism to make of a man who will serve as a Governor of a State like Kansas.

I don't want to see anybody in office who wants to waste money that the taxpayers send up. I think an efficient, effective government is the best one to deliver proper services to people, particularly when the philosophy of Kansan people needs to be adequately represented in the Governor's office. And I know John Carlin will do that.

Dan Glickman is a freshman Congressman, but he acts like one who's been there 20 years. [Laughter] My staff analyzed his record in the 95th Congress. There were nine major amendments that the Congress passed with Dan Glickman's name on them. And that is almost unprecedented. It shows that he has an intense commitment to hard work and effective work for you in Washington. And his service on the Agriculture Committee and, as you know, on the Science and Technology Committee fits in perfectly with Kansans' lives and particularly the region around Wichita, because you have equal to all other communities in the Nation a commitment to the future, in space, aviation, technology, as well as being the foremost wheat-producing State and one of the largest and best agricultural production States in the Nation.

And Dan Clickman fits in so well in his committee assignments—I think that's what has made him so strong, because he represents what you want with such an effective voice.

And I can't pass by an opportunity, although this is not her district, to mention Martha Keys, a woman with great influence, intellect, intelligence, courage, and who, even though this is only her second term, has become a foremost leader on perhaps the most important committee in the Congress, the House Ways and Means Committee.

She's responsible for health care, welfare, taxation, energy; and the legislation that the Congress has passed this year has her mark on it. And when she puts a mark on legislation, you can rest assured that the people of Kansas come out very well with her influence. I'm very proud of her.

I'd like to mention just a few things briefly that are on my mind this morning as I talk to you as President of your country.

All of us, I believe, in this audience realize that agriculture provides the industry that's the basic strength of our Nation. In the last 21 months or so, I've had an opportunity as a new President to analyze the strategic balance that exists between our country on the one hand and the others nations of the Earth on the other.

We believe, in fact we know that we have a superior position in politics, in government, economics, military might. But there are a lot of nations who compete with us in those varying aspects of international life. The one sound, stable, unchanging advantage that we have over all others is the land that God gave us, over which we act as stewards. Our productivity in agriculture is increasingly important now. But in the future, it gives us an assurance of a good life, an assurance of a beneficial impact and influence in other nations that's one of the proudest possessions of myself as President, of other members of our government, and indeed of the Western free world.

We cannot only correct many of our economic problems with our tremendous agricultural production, but we can use this influence to benefit the lives of many others. I think all of you know that in January of 1977, when I became President, the farm families of this country were in trouble. The people in Georgia, where I live, many of the people in Kansas, as well, were discouraged.

There were some predictions that agriculture in America was facing another depression, where the low relative income of American farm families was going to be even lower. Prices had hit the bottom; exports were faltering; the Government was becoming more deeply intrusive in the lives of farm families, in the marketing of wheat, corn, basic feed grains, sorghums. The farm families quite often sold their crops cheap that went into the massive grain elevators. Commodity prices were manipulated. Sometimes prices went up, and the beneficiaries were not the farmers, because they had lost control over the food that they had produced.

That's been changed. The new farm legislation supported by your own Members of Congress, of course, went into effect almost exactly a year ago. Farm family income has gone up in 1 year $7 billion, between 20 and 25 percent more. We've tried to get government out of the lives of farmers. We've increased farm storage tremendously to let the farmers themselves have much more control over when they market their products, so that they can get the benefits of the changes in farm prices. And at the same time, we've tried to stabilize those prices.

We see American farm production continuing to go up. This year in the United States, the average corn production per acre is 100 bushels. At the same time, we don't feel that we need to worry about this good production, because we're working as hard as possible to increase the markets for American farm products.

Last year, we set an all-time record, even in dollars, with very low prices, as you well remember. We exported $24 billion worth of farm products in 1977. In 1978 we'll beat that record. We'll go to $26.6 billion in farm exports.

In just a few minutes, not coincidentally in Wichita, I'm going to sign a new agricultural export bill that will greatly enhance American farm export levels in the years to come.

These kinds of changes that have been made in the Government help us all. They're typical of the approach to American farm life of the Democratic Party. But this is just one example out of many that I could mention.

The Democratic Party has always been a party of two things: one, compassion. We've always been concerned about people who need help. We've never believed in handouts, but we do believe in extending a hand to help someone, to help people stand on their own feet, support themselves, make their own decisions, become an integral part of a dynamic society.

We believe in children having a good education; young couples having an opportunity to buy a home; good highways to carry our products to market, to let us visit one another.

We believe in a strong defense. We also believe that we have to let people be employed. One of the greatest hungers in the life of a person is to let that one life, given by God, be used in a beneficial way.

I can't think of anything more devastating to a young man or woman, 18, 19, 20 years old, as they approach adulthood and begin to take their place in the community, than not to have a job and day by day by day be identified in one's own mind, in one's own family, in one's own community, as a failure, a nonproductive member of a great American society.

When I became President, we had 10 million Americans who did not have a full-time job, 7 million or more who had no job and who were looking for jobs. The Democratic Congress worked well with me. And we set up programs primarily to open up job opportunities in the private sector, because five out of six of the jobs in our country don't relate to government at all.

We've cut the unemployment rate 25 percent in just a short time that we've been in office. We've had a net increase of more than 6 million jobs in our country. This is the kind of approach that I think is proper for the Democratic Party to have.

We recognized some longstanding defects. We did not have, as you may have heard, a comprehensive national energy policy. And you know I said that it was the moral equivalent of war. I was beginning to feel it was the moral equivalent of the Hundred Years War. [Laughter] But the Congress has now passed a good energy bill. And it'll be improved by administrative action, and it'll probably be improved in the future by changes that Congress might make.

We've got a new Department of Energy now, and I think we can guarantee to you here not only a good market for energy products produced in your State but an assured supply of reasonably priced products in the years to come. We'll start conserving more. We'll start shifting to the more plentiful supplies of energy, and we'll have a chance to cut down on the enormous imports that have bled from our Nation, about $45 billion per year. We now import about 50 percent of our total oil. We want to turn that around.

We've also tried to root out fraud, mismanagement, waste from the Government.

I was concerned when I became President, when I was running for President, about the enormous budget deficits. It rubbed me wrong, as someone who's worked all my life for my own living, to see the budget deficits in Washington continue to go up and up and up.

When I was a candidate back in 1976, the budget deficit was almost $70 billion. We have already cut that budget deficit down to just a little above $40 billion, and we're moving in the right direction. And I'll keep as one of the major goals of my own administration a balanced budget. That's what I want to see while I'm still in the White House.

I think some of the most sacrificial and dedicated workers that I know of in the country are those who work for the Government. I'm not just talking about in the White House but other places as well. They are people who have offered their whole life's career to serving others.

But we had kind of a disgrace in the civil service system. And now the Congress has reformed the civil service for the first time in 95 years, and we are letting good, dedicated, competent, hard-working employees in the future be recognized and rewarded—and those who don't work quite so hard, we're going to inspire them to do a little bit better. If they don't, they're going to be transferred. If they don't improve, they'll be discharged.

And now managers can manage. But we're trying to put into our Government itself the same sort of fiscal management that has epitomized the successful elements of a free enterprise system.

I might say in passing that we're trying to make the free enterprise system better, a little bit more free. I think if you all would think back in the last few years, any of you who have flown in a commercial airline, you know that the rates have dropped tremendously. And you know why that's happened? Because we have gotten a Government regulatory agency to let the airlines compete with each other. In other words, we have gotten Government's nose out of the people's business and the rates have gone down; those empty airplanes have started filling up. It doesn't cost as much to haul one passenger, and the airlines are making more profit. And this is a very excellent example of what we are trying to do in Washington.

Well, I could go on and on. But I do want to mention two more things before I close. One is in foreign affairs.

I think all of us realize that 2 years ago, 3 years ago, the American people were disheartened, we were embarrassed, we were alienated from our Government. Sometimes we Americans were even ashamed of our own Government. The Vietnam war, the CIA revelations, the Watergate scandals, all made us feel that our country was not quite so clean, not quite so decent, not quite so honest, not quite so open as it ought to be. But we've turned that around as best we could. No one's perfect.

We've not only tried to bring that kind of attitude to government, we've also raised high a banner for the world to see of the principles and ideals on which American life has been founded for the last 200 years. And there's not a single leader in the world among 150 nations who doesn't think every day now about basic human rights. And as long as I'm in the White House, they're going to keep on thinking about that.

And the last thing I want to mention is this: We are a strong people. We're a people who have never been afraid of a challenge. We don't like to be pushed around. We have the strongest military strength in the world. We're going to keep it that way.

But we also believe in peace. And I thank God that since I've been in the White House, we've not had a single American soldier shed blood in a foreign country. And I hope I can go out of office having maintained that record of peace built on strength, not just for ourselves, but we are trying every day, through the most intense, concerted effort, to bring peace to others around the world who have been suffering more than we have.

Cy Vance just left South Africa a few days ago, 2 days go, where he's trying to make sure that Namibia doesn't erupt into war, trying to bring peace to Rhodesia. He's negotiating today in Moscow to have concluded a good SALT agreement that'll protect us in the future.

We had good luck at Camp David in trying to bring— [applause] —and I think one of the reasons that we had this success so far is because of the commitment of American people to extend a hand of moderation and conciliation and help to others like President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin who genuinely want peace for their people. But that's escaped the Holy Land, as you know, for hundreds and hundreds of years. And I hope we will be successful in our negotiations.

So, I've tried to outline as briefly as I could some of the characteristics, some of the achievements, some of the remaining problems of the Democratic Party.

We don't claim that we know all the answers. But we have an innate strength as Democrats, in that we cast our lot directly with you. We derive our strength from you, our counsel and advice from you, our criticisms, in a constructive way, from you.

We try to stay close to you, because I said during the campaign many times-sometimes the press teased me about it-that I want a government in Washington as good and decent and honest and truthful and competent as the American people. That's what we want to have. And I believe that we'll have it.

One of the best ways to guarantee it is to give me in Washington, from Kansas, a good Democratic team to work with. That's important.

You've come here today to help the candidates in whom you believe, for U.S. Senate, for Governor, for Congress. And I hope every one of you will go away from this meeting, not with a sense that you've done enough by coming here, but with a determination to make your own lives a kind of a focal point for success for the candidates in whom you believe. Each one of you has the character and ability and influence to be kind of a one-person campaign manager for Bill Roy, John Carlin, for your candidates for Congress.

And I want you to pledge to me as Americans that you'll not only vote but that you will work between now and November 7. And with these candidates being successful, with your help, we'll make the greatest nation on Earth even greater in years to come.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 12:40 p.m. in the Exhibition Hall at the Century II Convention Center.

Jimmy Carter, Wichita, Kansas Remarks at a Rally for Bill Roy and John Carlin. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244248

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