A president’s legacy


Samuel Studer
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At a press conference on Aug. 20, former President Jimmy Carter spoke about the spots of melanoma that were found in his brain. Carter focused on the positive on his brain-cancer diagnosis and was relaxed about the uncertainty of his future. Carter did not mention his prognosis but said he was scheduled for radiation.

There are currently only four former U.S. presidents still living: George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Carter.

According to the American Cancer Society, those who have cancer found on their brains have a 35 percent survival rate. Carter is uncertain about his future, but this news gives us a chance to reflect on his life during and after presidency.

Carter, who was elected in 1976, made many strides in the American political system. He created new Cabinet-level agencies (Departments of Energy and Education) and brokered the Camp David Accords. He was also president during the Iranian-hostage crisis. Becoming president might have been the success Carter was looking for, but he made an impact on the world after the White House.

Though Carter was only elected to one term, he said that he would not trade his experiences after presidency for four more years in office. Right after his term, the 56-year-old had no plans for the future. But late one night, he came up with the idea for the Carter Center, an organization that, according to its website, “has reduced guinea worm disease from 3.6 million cases in 1986 to 126 today, making it the first human disease since smallpox to be eradicated.”

This organization also helped to restore peace in many countries, Ethiopia, Liberia, Sudan, Uganda, and others. Carter also continued to donate his time by going on numerous missions for Habitat for Humanity. He shaped the world as a leader and changed the expectations for presidents after him, expectations that a president such as Obama will feel pressure to follow.

Obama has a long list of accomplishments that rival those of Carter. A few include ending the war in Iraq, passing Wall Street reform, and turning around the auto industry. He has also made a big impact on the international stage with developing nations. In his free time, Obama has already started a push for donations for his nonprofit organization, the Obama Foundation. It is not yet clear what he will do post-presidency, but his recent visit to a federal prison could tell us he wants to focus on criminal justice.

Obama has the resources and the know-how to be successful even after presidency. If he follows in the footsteps of Carter, he can make a change that will positively affect the world. Obama will need to continue to show his passion in whatever his next step is.

It is important that presidents continue humanitarian efforts after their presidencies. Without the efforts of presidents such as Carter, some of our relationships with other nations might be strained. In an ever-changing world, if Obama does not step up to the plate, we might be in trouble. He can help push change in issues we need to address in our society. Obama could potentially have a bigger role than the soft-spoken H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, and he must strive to make change. Carter has left a definite legacy that could pave the way for Obama to do the same.

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