Public Papers of Jimmy Carter, 1979

Author: Jimmy Carter  | Date: June 2, 1979

Indianapolis, Indiana
Remarks at the State Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner.
June 2, 1979

It is good to be back home in Indiana-and not just because of the kind of weeks I’ve had recently in Washington. [Laughter] It is like coming home for me because of the many wonderful friends that we made here during the long campaign, when you gave us a Hoosier welcome before the rest of the Nation knew me or cared about our campaign. You tookme in, and my wife and my children, my mother, and made us part of you. And I thank you for it.

I remember Andy Jacobs was one of the first ones who ever recognized that I might be a future President, and I will always remember that in particular.

During my campaign, I often wondered why no matter where I started out, I always wound up in Indiana. I finally decided it was because of the Indiana mafia who was running my scheduling. [Laughter]

It still seems to me that sometimes we have more people working in the White House from Indiana even than we do from Georgia. But I know you’re very proud of Terry and the and Fran.1 Don’t brag on them too much. With our fiscal austerity, we don’t have enough money to increase their salaries. [Laughter] But I wish they would stand up just a moment. Tim, Fran, Terry.

1 Terrence D. Straub, Special Assistant for Congressional Liaison (House), Timothy E. Kraft, Assistant to the President, and Frances M. Voorde, Deputy Appointments Secretary to the President.

As you know, we don’t just have Hoosiers in the White House, we’ve got Bill Schreiber, who has helped us with the U.S.-Canada Boundary Commission. He’s doing a good job. So far, we’ve only given up a small part of the territory of the United States to Canada. [Laughter] As you well know, we have Jim Joseph and Leo Krulitz in the Interior Department doing a superb job. And I think one of the stars of our administration has been Bob McKinney at the Federal Home Loan Bank Board. I thank you for letting them serve in Washington.

I rode in from the airport with Don Michael and Patty Evans. You don’t know how it makes a Democratic President feel to see a tremendous demonstration of hard work and harmony and cooperation and dedication and political courage that’s been exemplified here tonight, with 3,500 strong Democrats all ready to continue to work, some in ’79, and get some fine Indiana mayors elected this year; next year to change 7 Democratic Congressmen into 11 Democratic Congressmen from Indiana.

And I particularly would like to see Indiana follow the tradition of Henry Schricker and Roger Branigin and Matt Welsh and have a Democratic Governor from Indiana elected in 1980.

As I stood outside, I heard what Birch Bayh had to say about the Democratic delegation in Congress. You can really be proud of them. Lee Hamilton’s support has been superb in foreign affairs. Phil Sharp has made sure that our energy resources are fairly shared. Floyd Fithian was talking to me on the way in from Washington today about the need of farmers and better energy supplies for them; Andy Jacobs, whom I already mentioned, Adam Benjamin helping us to keep the Federal budget deficit down.

As you know, the Republicans spent a lot of money last year to put a third Crane in Congress, but the people of Indiana wisely decided to keep Dave Evans. I thank you for that.

I spent last night and today with a few key Members of the House at Camp David. John Brademas was there, the superb Democratic whip, who’s shown the kind of leadership that causes the American people to give us a strong Democratic majority in the Congress and who will keep it there. And I would like to say, in addition, how much I appreciate the kind of spirit that John Brademas has shown.

And, as you know, in the three terms that Birch Bayh has served, he’s come to symbolize the kind of character and courageous action which molds and which shapes the character and the spirit of theUnited States Senate with the same kind of ideals on which our Nation was founded 200 years ago. I thank you for your fine delegation.

I just want to add my voice to that of John Brademas and others, because we share the personal loss with Birch of Marvella Bayh. Her spirit and courage were well known here in Indiana, but they were equally well known throughout our Nation. She faced the prospects of an untimely death with courage and an inspirational attitude which sustained many others who faced sorrow and tragedy in their lives.

She was a personal friend of ours, and her deep faith in God and in our country have helped to sustain me and many others as we faced difficult times in our public life. We truly miss her radiant presence, but it lives among us without diminution.

I know that Birch, in the memorial service for her, pointed out that he did not want to see sorrowful faces as we talk about Marvella. And I do have a spirit of thanksgiving and happiness that she lived among us. And she still lives among us, as far as I’m concerned.

The last time I was in Indiana, I spoke at Notre Dame about our foreign policy and about our intention to support human rights around the world. In the 2 years since then, much has happened. It’s been a time of rebuilding. We’ve accomplished a great deal. We have a lot to do. But when they write the history of these years, I hope that they’ll say four things about what you and I have been able to do together.

First of all, I want them to say that we Democrats have made America prosperous again and that we believe as a party in hard work and that we have put our people back to work. That’s one thing I want them to say.

And I want the historians also to say that we Democrats have not been afraid to tackle difficult and controversial issues, that we have never put temporary political gain ahead of the permanent benefit of the United States of America.

And I want them to say, after Vietnam and Watergate and CIA and other embarrassing circumstances, that we Democrats together have been able to restore the faith and the trust of the American people in their own Government.

And I think, as President, I want them to say, above everything else, that America has been at peace and that we have been instrumental in leading the rest of the world away from war.
That’s a good, sound history lesson.

If we can build on this platform being carried out of peace, courage, prosperity, trust, we will have kept faith with our party, and we will have kept faith with the American people, and we will enter the 1980’s as a proud, confident, strong, and united nation. We can bring our Nation and the world closer to a time when war, hunger, poverty, injustice, oppression, will be no more. This is what you and I can do; this is what you and I will do together.

It’s sobering to think back just a few years and remember the cynicism and the distrust, a divided nation brought about by those in power during the previous administrations, to remember the disappointment and a sense of betrayal that clouded our land.

Great changes have taken place. We’ve demanded a government that does not need to cover up and which actually deserves the loyalty and the trust of the people. There are no more official government lies. There are no more enemies lists. There are no more sellouts to the special interest groups.

President Andrew Jackson summed up my own beliefs when he said, and I quote: "There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses."

We are eliminating abuses, and we are meeting head-on the problems that face our Nation. When I took office in January 1977, do you remember the number one problem of our country? Unemployment. In Gary, for instance, more than 1 worker in every 10 was out of a job. Republican economics said we had to tighten our belts, but you know whose belt got tightened—those least able to afford economic difficulty.

Democratic economics have taken people off the unemployment rolls by giving them jobs. We’ve had a net increase of more than 8 million jobs in the United States of America since I took office, with your help—a great achievement. Now, Republicans talk about the dignity of work, but Democrats create jobs so people can work.

Americans know that Republicans also talk a lot about balanced budgets. But in the 8 years of Republican administration, the budget deficit of the United States Government was greater than all the deficits combined of the other 192 years of our Nation’s existence.

Republicans talk about cutting deficits; Democrats cut them. By 1980, we will have slashed the Federal deficit more than half, and at the same time—and this is important—we have substantially increased the aid going to the elderly, to the poor, to the young, to the sick.

We have made unprecedented commitments, even more than during the Johnson years, to teach young people basic skills and to help our young people go to college. Farm families have been strengthened, net farm income is up dramatically, and agricultural exports set new records every year. You have certainly not seen any grain embargoes during this administration, and you will not see them in the future.

Okay, we have accomplished a lot. But crucial problems still face us, and that’s what I want to talk to you briefly about tonight: on energy, on inflation, on keeping peace in a dangerous world.

Recently a Senator, Gaylord Nelson, jokingly said that I had tackled every unpopular issue that was before our Nation, and when there were none left, that I went out and looked for one. Well, that’s not exactly right, because there were always some left, as you know. I didn’t have to go around looking for tough issues. They were around, I felt, looking for me long before I got to the White House, because the Republicans before me were too busy doing other things to face these issues frankly.

The Democratic Party is the party of the people, because the people trust us to make difficult choices, to provide answers for questions that are not easy, but they are questions that must be answered for the good of our whole Nation. They gave us a substantial majority in both Houses of Congress so we could find positive solutions. They did not give us majorities so that we could vote down every solution offered just because it was not absolutely perfect.

My experience in politics is that there are no absolutely perfect solutions. But I believe that our people are willing to support us Democrats if we meet the responsibilities courageously and devise best solutions within our power.

One of the most immobilizing fears among our people is the fear of being cheated and misled. As much as anything else, this keeps our people, for instance, from making a small, personal sacrifice to solve the problems of inflation and energy.

I believe Americans are willing to do their part on energy if they feel that others will join with them on an equal basis. But in the long run, we’ll all suffer with a mistaken belief that somehow or another a problem does not exist, or if it does exist, that it will miraculously fade away. The choice is between some temporary inconvenience now or very real and severe hardships later on.

There are no magic cures. We cannot plant and harvest our crops any more with mules. We cannot fuel our factories with fireplaces. The times require plain talk and political courage from Democrats. The people have entrusted Democrats with governing this country, and I have said before that in 1980 they will again entrust Democrats with governing Indiana if we who are in office do a good job.

We are not elected to hide, nor to withdraw from a fight. We’ve got a fight going on now in the Congress concerning energy. Our present laws don’t work, controlling the price of oil; our consumption and our waste is too high; American production is too low; we are importing an increasing amount of oil from foreign countries; and under the present law, you’ve seen what’s happened to prices.

So, we’ve put forward a workable package. Maybe it’s not perfect; I don’t claim it’s perfect. But it is absolutely necessary that the Congress act, with your support, on this difficult question.

The windfall profits tax which I proposed to the Congress will let the oil companies keep 29 cents on a dollar to be used to explore and to produce more American oil. Returns from that windfall profits tax will be used to construct a security fund for energy. Part of that money, a great deal of money, about $800 million, will go to help the poorest families in our Nation who are afflicted worst by increasing prices of energy.

Another part of that fund will go to improve rapid transit, rail transportation, and otherwise.

The other part, which will be increasing fairly rapidly, is to provide research and development to explore new kinds of energy—solar power, gasohol, the liquefaction and gasification of Indiana coal. If we do these things, then my judgment is that we can meet the tremendous challenge of worldwide energy shortages.

Early next week, I will appoint the members of a commission to study the potential for alcohol fuels, including gasohol, to be made from such things as agricultural products, forest wastes, garbage, even coal. Birch Bayh sponsored this legislation, and he will be chairman of this commission. I’ll also appoint, by the way, Philip French of the Indiana Farm Bureau.

Now, let me tell you something very seriously, and I want you to remember this if nothing else from my speech. We have a great nation which can meet any challenge if we work together. We can solve the energy problem with the same courage, the same pioneer spirit, the same sense of partnership which has always been exemplified by the people of Indiana. Our economic strength, our military strength, our political strength, our ethical strength, our moral strength are unsurpassed by any other nation on Earth.

And the United States of America is at peace. The founder of our party, Thomas Jefferson, looked back on his long years of service to this Nation, and he said with pride, "During the period of my administration, not a drop of the blood of a single fellow citizen was shed by the sword of war." I’m also proud that not a single drop of American blood has been shed in war during my administration. And I pray to God every daythat when my years as President are over, that I can still match that achievement of Thomas Jefferson.

Now, the SALT II treaty, which has been negotiated almost 7 years under three Presidents, is part of our efforts to wage peace. There is no doubt in my mind that the SALT II treaty, when ratified, will enhance the security of the United States. There is no doubt that the SALT treaty will contribute to world peace. There is no doubt that the SALT treaty will enhance detent and will leave our Nation stronger to compete peacefully but successfully with the Soviet Union. There is no doubt that the SALT treaty will contribute greatly to the prevention of a catastrophic nuclear war. There is no doubt that the SALT treaty goes a long way toward controlling present and future atomic weapons. There is no doubt that the SALT treaty helps us to prevent other nations who are presently not nuclear powers from developing atomic explosions of their own.

The SALT II treaty is part of a process that began way back when Eisenhower was President—SALT I, Vladivostok, antiballistic missiles, limited test ban. And now, after 7 more years, SALT II is part of a process.

If the SALT II treaty should be rejected by the United States Senate, that process would be interrupted. Our NATO Allies and others who look to us for leadership would be convinced that the United States could no longer be trusted to deal fairly and strongly and effectively with the Soviet Union to protect our interests on a peaceful basis. Those allies might very well have to look elsewhere for alliances and for leadership.

If the SALT II treaty is not ratified, that long process leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons might not be recommenced. The SALT II treaty does not depend on our trusting the Soviet Union. You’ve got sitting here on the stage Birch Bayh, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. It is a great honor to him and to Indiana that he occupies this position, because he is in control of receiving the most secret possible information to prove to him and to me and others who are willing to listen that our country can verify the terms of the SALT II treaty by our own means, by our own technical means.

Failure to ratify this treaty would contribute billions of more dollars to the purchase of weapons that are absolutely not needed. And if we don’t have this treaty, every little incident around the world, every little disagreement will be magnified greatly in its importance, and the trust that must exist among nations will be severely threatened.

I hope that every one of you Democrats will let your other Senator from Indiana and others with whom you come in contact know how deeply you feel about peace and how deeply you feel about the control of nuclear weapons throughout the world. You could do nothing greater to benefit your Nation, your families, and your future families than to help me with this issue.

And finally, let me say that during my campaign, I promised you here in Indiana that we could have a government as good as our people. Some critics said this was just cheap political campaign talk, but you understood what I was trying to say.

Our foreign policy is as good as the American people when we speak out for human rights around the world. And we will continue to protect human rights as long as I’m your President. Our foreign policy is as good as the American people when we work to bring peace not just to our own shores but to ancient enemies.And we will continue to work for peace around the world.

We won a victory of this kind when a peace treaty was signed recently, 2 months ago, between Egypt and Israel. We saw the first fruits of that just recently, and it thrilled my heart to see Israeli ships going through the Suez Canal, to see Israel returning occupied territory to Egypt, and to see open borders between Egyptians and Israelis, who have hated each other and killed each other’s young men for decades, even for centuries, for almost 2,000 years.

That treaty was possible because of two courageous men, President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin. But we were able to help at some crucial points because of the moral strength and the moral leadership of our country. That treaty was not any personal accomplishment, though I was proud to be part of the process. Whatever I was able to contribute was possible only because both those nations, their leaders and their people, recognized that the American people—not just one administration, not just one particular President, but the American people—will always support those who seek freedom and justice and peace. That’s what the United States Government must stand for in the world.

Freedom, justice, and peace—these are the sources of our true power on which all else must rest. These are the principles, as you know, which have made America great.

One of our finest rights in America is that we have the blessing to speak our minds, to complain, to debate, to argue, to study, and to resolve issues in the political arena.

In our eagerness to do that, sometimes we forget how much we have actually accomplished. We forget our enormous material abundance, and we forget the wonderful treasure of our freedom. We cannot afford to forget our blessings. To lose sight of our basic strength, just because we have some problems and differences and arguments and transient setbacks, would be even more unrealistic than to ignore those transient problems.

Our land is broad, our people are diverse, and many of our people, unfortunately, are frightened by a future which they see as very different from the past that we’ve known. It will be very different, just as our world now is very different from what it was in my boyhood or among our ancestors, but this should not be a cause of fear.

The problems are real and they are serious, but they are manageable if we have the courage and the will to face them together. There is no doubt that we have the strength. We have a degree of respect and freedom for individuals and a commitment to provide the finest possible opportunity for every American that’s unmatched in human history. We do, indeed, live in the strongest country on Earth. We cannot let all that strength, all the innate power of our natural and human resources be frittered away by fear or by futility.

Franklin Roosevelt understood how fear itself could immobilize people, and in a much more desperate moment, he warned us of the power of fear to destroy us. We cannot let the fear of change, of uncertainty, or the fear of some manageable limits on material goods immobilize our mighty Nation.

I’m very proud to be part of you. I’m very proud to be the leader of our party and the leader of our Nation. In difficult times, we Democrats have always seen not doubt, but hope; not divisiveness, but unity, growing out of a respect and an understanding of our differences and of our human strength.

We have never failed our country, and we Democrats will certainly not fail our country now.

We do have problems. We can solve those problems. We can be strong and also at peace. We can make our economy work. But we cannot do it with slogans or gimmicks or magic or by trying to put the responsibility on someone else.

America must solve her problems the same way each of us solves our own problems-with hard work and persistence and courage and, occasionally, some pain and some sacrifice. But we must not confuse difficulty with defeat. The actions we take to get through our current problems will enhance our strength for a future that will be even brighter than our past.

I look forward to those years—next year, the next decade, the next century-because I know that the people of the United States have the will and the strength of character to make those years even better in the greatest nation on Earth.
Thank you very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at 8:15 p.m. in Convention Hall B at the Indianapolis Convention Center.


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Chicago: Jimmy Carter, "Indianapolis, Indiana Remarks at the State Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner.," Public Papers of Jimmy Carter, 1979 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Jimmy Carter, 1979 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.2300-2302 990–995. Original Sources, accessed July 17, 2024,

MLA: Carter, Jimmy. "Indianapolis, Indiana Remarks at the State Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner." Public Papers of Jimmy Carter, 1979, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Jimmy Carter, 1979 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.2300-2302, pp. 990–995. Original Sources. 17 Jul. 2024.

Harvard: Carter, J, 'Indianapolis, Indiana Remarks at the State Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner.' in Public Papers of Jimmy Carter, 1979. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Jimmy Carter, 1979 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.2300-2302, pp.990–995. Original Sources, retrieved 17 July 2024, from