Jimmy Carter Fears America's Transformation From Democracy to Oligarchy Is All but Complete

At 93, former President Jimmy Carter is out promoting his 32nd book titled Faith: A Journey For All while taking interviews with various news groups along the way. This week, Judy Woodruff with PBS interviewed Carter in a two-part series. Here are excerpts from the first and second discussions.


In regard to the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and the March For Our Lives, Woodruff asks Carter if he thinks laws will change given the passion of the young people leading the way today.

Jimmy Carter:

I do. I think they have already shown their ability to change legislation in Florida. I think the arousing of young people all over the country, which they did this past weekend, is a good indication that they will have a permanent — more permanent effect on the — counteracting the NRA’s false premises...I think, if anybody can do it, these young people, if they stick with it — I think the NRA is facing the greatest challenge that it has in the last 15 or 20 years.

When Woodruff asked Carter his thoughts on the state of the country, the 39th U.S. president said:

Jimmy Carter:

We now have a development in America where the massive influx of money into campaigns has elevated rich people, powerful people above the average person.

So, we are moving toward an oligarchy of a powerful element of rich people compared to a true democracy.

And I think the other thing, besides the massive amount of money we have put into elections, is the gerrymandering of districts, which guarantees a continued polarization of people.

We have a situation now where people who are in power impose a lot of punishment on unfortunate people. We have seven times as many people in prison now as we did when I left the White House, for instance. We have got a much greater disparity of income among Americans than we have ever had before.

In fact, eight people in the world — six of them are from America — own as much money as half of the total population of the world, 3.5 billion people.

In America, we have the same problem, maybe even in an exaggerated way. We have marginalized the average person, for the benefit of the wealthier people in America.

A little further down in the interview, Woodruff asks Carter to rate Donald Trump’s performance during these last 14 months.

Jimmy Carter:

I don’t think he’s doing well.

He’s made some very serious mistakes. I think the worst mistake he’s made so far has been the appointment of John Bolton to be his national security adviser.

I know Bolton from way back at a distance. I have never met him personally. But he has been very eager to go to war with different people, including North Korea and Iran. He’s been in the forefront of every kind of radical enhancement the United States can make based on its own military prowess. He’s — he’s told lies about things where I knew the truth. And so I just have very little confidence in him.

I’m not singling him out. But I think that I would get along quite well with General McMaster, and I was grieved to see him go. I have been talking to him several times about the North Korean situation.

So, I think now he’s surrounding himself, as everyone knows, with people who just agree with him almost entirely.

When Woodruff asked Carter about the Mueller investigation, the former president seems to be getting a little impatient—like many around the country and world.

Jimmy Carter:

Well, I think he will finish his work, regardless of what I think.

I just wish that he would finish his work earlier, rather than later, so that we could see if there is anything legally to be brought forward about President Trump and his involvement in the 2016 election, because I think the future of the politics in America is dependent on what Mueller will have come forward to allege.

And so I think, the longer this is postponed, the more damage we might see done, including with the issues that I have already described, that is, the nuclear weaponry and altercations with Iran and with — and with North Korea and also with the global environment.

So, I think the sooner the Mueller that makes his report, the better off the country will be, one way or the other.

The above are only a few of the many discussions in the extensive Judy Woodruff-Jimmy Carter interview. Videos, audios and full transcripts are available on the PBS news website.

You can buy Jimmy Carter’s new book on the Simon and Schuster website, Amazon, Barnes and Noble ... Carter, a man of strong faith who walks the talk, says his new book, Faith: And The Journey For All encapsulates his deep feelings about his religion and his background in politics, peace and human rights—and truth and integrity. 

Loved and admired globally, Jimmy Carter is a humanitarian, peacemaker, Democratic diplomat and national treasure. Some would call him a world treasure. Thank you, President Carter, for continuing to show America and the world how leaders lead.

Read more about Jimmy Carter:

To share your thoughts and learn more about American’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate and 39th President Jimmy Carter, visit the Facebook page created in 2015 called, ”Honoring Jimmy Carter.”

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