Opinion | Recognize President Carter for post-presidency


Photo Courtesy of georgia institute of technology

Former President Jimmy Carter receives the 2017 Ivan Allen Jr. Prize for Social Courage. Columnist Noah urges audiences to acknowledge Carter’s memorable post-presidency accomplishments, such as the founding of the Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta.

By Noah Nelson, Columnist

Some presidents are remembered for their leadership during the darkest hours of the nation’s history, like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Others are remembered for their distinct character, like Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. But then, there are those who are remembered most for being among the worst to ever hold the office. 

One name almost always comes to mind in that assumption: Jimmy Carter. Though many historians deem the 39th president of the United States one of our least favorites, Carter is more remembered for his post-presidency, and he should be more appreciated in that sense.

Since leaving the White House in 1981 after a single term, Carter began what would become a memorable post-presidency. In 1982, he and his wife Roselyn founded the Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta, which promotes democracy, prevents conflicts and assists the electoral process in support of free and fair elections. It also works to improve global health by eliminating diseases like Guinea worm, river blindness and malaria. Carter’s work even led to his winning of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

When not working with his own center, Carter also volunteers in his home state of Georgia for Habitat for Humanity, a community service organization that builds homes for underprivileged people. Even these days, at 95 years old, Carter can still be found working on a construction site for these future homes.

Apart from giving back to his community and the world at large, Carter has also written numerous books, including memoirs about various aspects of his life, his political views and even a children’s book. It’s wonderful Carter keeps his mind sharp by writing so many published works and still serves as an active citizen.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

In American history, four presidents — Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley and John F. Kennedy — were assassinated during their time in office. Four others — William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Warren Harding and Franklin Delano Roosevelt — died during their term. One commander in chief, Richard Nixon, resigned from office in disgrace. 

For those presidents who served full terms, three went on to serve in politics once more: John Quincy Adams, Andrew Johnson and William Howard Taft. Taft served as chief justice of the United States after serving as president. Once leaving office, most former occupants dedicate their retirement to private life, often writing a memoir about their time as the highest office-holder in the nation and fade from the public eye.

Because presidents can choose to spend their post-presidency however they wish, Carter’s time outside of office should be more appreciated than it is. He has devoted much of his adult life to public service in so many ways. 

Even if his presidency was not the best, that doesn’t mean he should be forgotten altogether. Instead, applaud him for all he’s done for mankind throughout the duration of his post-presidency.

Noah is a sophomore in LAS.

[email protected]