Opinion: America needs more people like Jimmy Carter

History shows he was right man for the nation during troubled times.

When then-little known Jimmy Carter first told his mother Miss Lillian, “Momma, I’m running for president,” she looked back at him with a tilted head and a perplexed look on her face and then sincerely (and hilariously) asked in a slow Southern drawl, “The pres-i-dent of what?”

What a fine man! What a spectacular role model! What an extraordinarily successful life!

I had the good fortune of meeting President Carter twice.

James P. HIlton

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Credit: contributed

And no, I’m not a Democrat, but I have the capacity to be impressed by good, upstanding men, regardless of where they sit on the political spectrum.

And while I didn’t always agree with everything he did as president, he gets an A-plus for trying real hard in the face of a ton of adversity.

Basically an obscure figure from the Deep South, Jimmy Carter managed to propel himself into the Oval Office precisely because of his humble demeanor, his warm smile and his famous integrity.

At the time, all America was outraged and still reeling over President Richard Nixon, who resigned in disgrace after personally authorizing the burglary and wiretapping of the opposition party (known as the Watergate scandal).

Everyone was just totally disgusted with the out-of-control corruption that was, and still is, Washington, D.C.

Then, out of nowhere appears this soft-spoken, genuine, down-to-earth, slow-talking Southerner — just a disarmingly nice guy, a lowly peanut farmer, not from booming Atlanta, but from a tiny fly spot of a town called Plains, in rural South Georgia.

The rest is history!

He was the right man for the time — the exact medicine America was craving!

But unfortunately, even today Washington has extremely low tolerance for men who blurt out too much truth — whether they’re Republican loudmouth big talkers who are super-rich (Donald Trump) or Democrat, soft-spoken peanut farmers who are relatively poor (Carter).

The usual forces of the entrenched rot, the so-called “deep state,” that to this day retain a vice-like stranglehold on our nation’s capital, had little stomach for that much honesty!!

They viciously turned public opinion against Carter almost immediately, and kept the pressure on — it was a relentless, uphill struggle for the entire duration of his presidency. They just couldn’t seem to boot him out that door fast enough.

Post-presidency, he was more impressive. He won the Nobel Peace Prize (and unlike some recent others, Carter actually deserved it!).

Whether it was faithfully teaching Sunday School classes, personally building houses for poor people into his 80s with Habitat For Humanity, helping to cure Guinea worm in Africa, or brokering international peace deals around the world through the Carter Center, this guy is the real deal!

The man (and his wife, first lady Rosalynn Carter) are the living personification of genuine Christian self-sacrifice and service to all humanity — not just cheap imitations like the self-enriching, grandstanding, lip service variety we see on display everywhere these days.

But God knows, Jimmy Carter is certainly not perfect, and some of his policies were flat-out disastrous. Like all of us, he made some pretty big mistakes — because he is human.

But very few disagree that Jimmy Carter is an honest and decent human being.

Right now, more than ever in my lifetime it is painfully obvious that America is desperately crying out for another selfless, compassionate leader, a real hero.

Someone who people and children can really look up to for a change — someone like Jimmy Carter.

As his life winds down, I am confident that the Almighty will receive him with open arms and the words every Christian longs to hear at his life’s conclusion — ”well done, good and faithful servant.”

May God bless our nation with another good man one day real soon.

We sure could use one.

Please Lord, for America’s sake, for Your name’s sake, just one more chance?!

James P. Hilton is a Georgia-based author, a veteran paramedic, medical educator and an Eagle Scout. Both his son and daughter are police officers.

Author James P. HIlton and his daughter Elizabeth with Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter in 2014.

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Credit: contributed