Carter Unsuccessful Re-Election 1980's

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Why was Carter unsuccessful in his attempt to secure re-election in 1980?

Jimmy Carter was the first elected President in half a century who failed to win a second term. His election in 1976 was set during the period of time when people had lost their faith in the presidency. After Nixon’s humiliation considering Watergate scandal and Ford’s simplistic and unenthusiastic govern, people were looking for someone outside Washington’s corruption. Carter seemed a perfect decision , governor of a small state, he appealed to people as the best solution. Nevertheless, as they got what they wanted it turned out to be wrong. They got a person from the outside that had no idea how Washington worked. People believed he was error prone and inexperienced. Carter soon became a joke and was criticized by the society that was not willing to give their votes for his re-election.

Carter made several crucial mistakes during his power. From the beginning of his presidency he was accused of micro-management. This was one of his strategic errors, he tried to do too much too quickly and paid attention to small details forgetting the big picture and failing to grasp the complexity of the plans that he proposed. It is said that he managed the rota for the White House personally. An NSC member said: “If Carter saw a problem he wanted to solve it, and there was all there was to it – no prioritizations”. His short sight pushed the voters away. People were not eager to vote for someone who would get absorbed in small things, rather than looking at serious problems like inflation, which Carter had inherited.

His other mistake was rejecting all the help, including Congress’s. Carter had originally run on an anti- Washington platform, of course that was the reason he got elected; nevertheless it is hard to run a country when you have tension between the President and Congress. Therefore Carter never developed a solid base of supporters on Capitol Hill. Speaker Tip O’Neil was willing to help, however Carter who said that he had been a governor and knew how to deal with legislation rejected his proposal. Carter’s poor communication with Congress got him nowhere. Carter failed to get cooperation from Congress to pass certain legislations, such as his energy program. Americans understood that a stubborn President wouldn’t bring any good to the country; Carter’s personal loyalties made voters doubt his wisdom and retrieve their votes for someone better.

His other failure overshadowed everything that he has done as a president. The “Billygate” scandal had harmed Carters reputation and even lowered his chances of being re-elected. He won his first election in 1976 because people thought he was unaffected by Washington’s corruption, however this scandal highlighted Carters use of presidential power in his own benefit. Carter’s older brother Billy was a redneck; who, in July 1980, registered as a foreign agent and received a $220,000 loan from the Libyan government. It raised a political storm and later on through the investigation it was revealed that Carter used Billy’s Libyan contacts to free the Iranian hostages. President Carter was accused of nepotism however public decided that he was incompetent rather than corrupt but this scandal cost Carter his popularity rating and votes.

Nonetheless, some of the negative events that occurred during Carters presidency were not his fault yet he got the blame. A first example would be the energy crises, which was beyond Carters control. Increase of car use, one harsh winter and poor relationship with Middle East were the reason for it, but still Carter was accused. Carter attempted to propose energy legislation, however Congress changed it beyond recognition. The only conclusion was to raise the price for the fuel but people were unwilling to go that far. Voters were unimpressed by the President’s handling of this situation, which soon got even worse and caused even more dissatisfaction from people....
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