Former President Jimmy Carter’s surprisingly tart assessment of Donald Trump’s “legitimacy” as president has prompted me to start thinking about the future.
I’ll explain in a moment.
Carter said Trump was elected president only because the Russians hacked into our electoral system in 2016 and pushed him across the finish line ahead of Hillary Clinton. He is challenging the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency. Trump, quite naturally, fired back. He called Carter a “failed president” and has dismissed the former president’s assertions about the legitimacy of the 2016 election result.
“Look, he was a nice man. He was a terrible president. He’s a Democrat. And it’s a typical talking point. He’s loyal to the Democrats. And I guess you should be,” Trump told reporters in Japan, where he attended the G20 meeting. “As everybody now understands, I won not because of Russia, not because of anybody but myself.”
Historians are still chronicling Jimmy Carter’s single term as president, from 1977 to 1981. However, the jury has returned a verdict on the 39th president’s time since leaving the White House. It has determined that Carter’s dedication to humanitarian causes, to free and fair elections, to his work with Habitat Humanity, his return to a modest lifestyle and his dedication to biblical teaching has made him arguably the greatest former president in U.S. history.
While the current president fires off tweets and makes preposterous statements about President Carter’s legacy, I am left to wonder: What kind of former president will Donald Trump become?
The good news for all of us is that Trump will not be president forever. He’ll either be gone after the 2020 election or he’ll exit the White House, per the Constitution’s requirement, after the 2024 election. I shudder at the prospect of Trump winning re-election.
It is fair to wonder, though, about several aspects of a Trump post-presidential era.
What will this individual do to further the agenda he has sought to build as president? Is this man capable of dedicating himself to good work, to establishing a foundation that seeks to promote some noble endeavor? Can you imagine him working with poor nations, the places he once referred to as “sh**hole countries” as they seek to rid themselves of violence or repression? Is it within anyone’s realm of imagination to picture Donald Trump throwing himself into inner-city turmoil, working with young people to help guide them to productive lives?
Thus, when I hear Donald Trump denigrate a former president, such as Jimmy Carter, who has become the epitome of character, grace, humility, integrity and dignity I am forced to ponder whether No. 45 is even in the same league as No. 39.
I keep coming up with the same answer.