What Jimmy Carter did right

“I owe the special interests nothing,” he said. In a television spot called “secrecy,” he called for sunshine laws so that “we can understand what decisions are made about our own lives, what went on behind those locked doors.”

Carter didn’t abandon this message after winning.

Although it was symbolic, Carter thrilled Americans when he and his wife stopped the limousine as it rode down Pennsylvania Avenue following his swearing-in ceremony. He and Rosalynn stepped out of the car and onto the street to join the parade on foot. When he made this decision, Carter recalled that he was thinking about the “angry demonstrators who had habitually confronted recent presidents and vice presidents, furious over the Vietnam War and later the revelations of Watergate.” A leader who was less interested in the trappings of power than actually working to represent the people elated the crowd.