Jimmy Carter, Christian statesman, lays it out clearly yet again. Thank you, Mr. President!

(Carter interview and book info.)
[The quotes below are from a recent interview with Der Spiegel, focusing on issues Carter brings up in his new book. The other day I visited two houses in a row where his new book was on the kitchen table, and in both cases was strongly urged to read it. Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis]
In this new book Carter argues that only the American people can force the government to return to our country’s old moral principles. The newspaper asks whether he is thus calling the administration of George W Bush “immoral,” and whether perhaps “the whole country” was “in danger of losing its core values”.

There is no doubt that this administration has made a radical and unprecedented departure from the basic policies of all previous administrations including those of both Republican and Democratic presidents.

For a few examples, he lists
– pre-emptive war,
– the merging of church and state, and
– wildly unjust tax policies.

And, of course, fundamentalists don’t believe they can make mistakes, so when we permit the torture of prisoners in Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib, it’s just impossible for a fundamentalist to admit that a mistake was made.
As to whether we were in danger of a massive loss of our core values:

For a while, yes. As you possibly know, historically, our country has had the capability of self-correcting our own mistakes. This applied to slavery in 1865, it applied to legal racial segregation a hundred years later or so. It applied to the Joe McCarthy era when anti-communism was in a fearsome phase in the country like terrorism now. So we have an ability to correct ourselves and I believe that nowadays there is a self-correction taking place. In my opinion the election results in Connecticut (Ed: The primary loss of war supporter Senator Joseph Lieberman) were an indication

On Israel’s attack on Lebanon:

I don’t think that Israel has any legal or moral justification for their massive bombing of the entire nation of Lebanon. What happened is that Israel is holding almost 10,000 prisoners, so when the militants in Lebanon or in Gaza take one or two soldiers, Israel looks upon this as a justification for an attack on the civilian population of Lebanon and Gaza. I do not think that’s justified, no.

He has a lot of insight into what Der Spiegel calls “Christian fundamentalism“:

The fundamentalists believe they have a unique relationship with God, and that they and their ideas are God’s ideas and God’s premises on the particular issue. Therefore, by definition since they are speaking for God anyone who disagrees with them is inherently wrong.

And the next step is: Those who disagree with them are inherently inferior, and in extreme cases — as is the case with some fundamentalists around the world — it makes your opponents sub-humans, so that their lives are not significant.

Another thing is that a fundamentalist can’t bring himself or herself to negotiate with people who disagree with them because the negotiating process itself is an indication of implied equality. And so this administration, for instance, has a policy of just refusing to talk to someone who is in strong disagreement with them — which is also a radical departure from past history. So these are the kinds of things that cause me concern.

And, of course, fundamentalists don’t believe they can make mistakes, so when we permit the torture of prisoners in Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib, it’s just impossible for a fundamentalist to admit that a mistake was made.

You know, it’s easy to be very cynical about political parties, political office-holders, and politics in general. Just like it’s easy to by cynical about churches, pastors and denominations. But here Carter makes a case for the significance of electoral politics in changing the moral orientation of a nation. I agree with him.

SPIEGEL: Does America need a regime change?

Carter: As I’ve said before, there is a self-corrective aspect to our country. And I think that the first step is going to be in the November election this year. This year, the Democrats have good chance of capturing one of the houses of Congress. I think the Senate is going to be a very close decision. My oldest son is running for the US Senate in the state of Nevada. And if just he and a few others can be successful then you have the US Senate in Democratic hands and that will make a profound and immediate difference.