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Angela Jong

AP US History
May 26, 2009

Jimmy Carter: Energy and National Goals (1979)

1. Carter wanted to highlight the problem concerning a fundamental threat to American


democracy, more specifically the lack of confidence upon the future which he claims is
the basis that supports everything from ‘public institutions to private enterprise’. Not only
has the public lost faith in the government, but it also challenges the citizen’s ability to
shape and rule our democracy. Basically Carter blames the multitude of problems from
energy crisis to inflation on a supposed underlying cause: the deterioration of America’s
morals.
2. President Carter’s noble call to promote enlightened self-restraint and civic virtue brings
to mind the Great Awakening, Progressive Movement, and the presidency of Herbert
Hoover. First, both of the Great Awakenings were largely a religious movement calling
for changes that were the basis of many reform movements. Carter’s flowery and noble
arguments that say that the moral standings of America are the basis of our economy
largely resemble the sermons of many preachers. The progressive movement, which
included the prohibition movement and moral ‘revival’, could resemble Carter’s speech.
Additionally the response to overpopulation during the 1880s within the cities was also a
period of growing civic virtue amidst the crime. Key leaders at that time was Dorothea
Dix, Jane Addams and more. Finally, Carters call for internal moral changes and a rather
lack of governmental plans/ actions resembles the presidency of Herbert Hoover. Initially
Hoover called for more charity organizations and corporations to maintain prices and
wages asking for their cooperation. However these methods were ineffective and Carter’s
cry for a moral revolution does not seem to have gone well with America either.
3. Most Americans most likely responded with disbelief and anger at such an ineffective
speech. The speech itself talked of little plans and rather noble call to change the morals
of America. This speech does not provide any hope for Americans by delineating any
clear plans to remedy these major crises and portrays Carter as a whimsical, bombastic
preacher who is clearly disillusioned.