Did Jimmy Carter Really Say That the US "Has No Functioning Democracy?"

Comments

1
Well, the third possibility is that Carter was misquoted. Is there audio?
2
The Germans just can't let that "jelly doughnut" gaffe die.
3
@2,

What jelly doughnut gaffe? If you're referring to the "Ich bin ein Berliner" statement, it's the Brits who made hay from that, not the Germans.
4
I would agree, for the last 12-20 years we have been creeping towards a Federal police state.

But most readers here will gladly live on their knees as long as their party is in the Whitehouse.
5
And Mr. Carter has stared into the gaping maws of enough non-functioning democracies that he should bloody well know one when he sees one. I believe him.
6
@2,

From Wikipedia:

There is a misconception that Kennedy made a risible error by saying Ich bin ein Berliner): the claim is made that Kennedy referred to himself not as a "citizen of Berlin" but as a "jelly doughnut", known in Berlin as a "Pfannkuchen" ("pancake") but as "Berliner" in the north and west and as "Krapfen" in the south of Germany and in Austria. Kennedy should, supposedly, have said Ich bin Berliner to mean "I am a person from Berlin", and so adding the indefinite article ein to his statement implied he was a non-human Berliner, thus, "I am a jelly doughnut". However, while the indefinite article ein is omitted when speaking of an individual's profession or residence, it is still necessary when speaking in a figurative sense as Kennedy did. Since the President was not literally from Berlin but only declaring his solidarity with its citizens, "Ich bin ein Berliner" was not only correct, but the only way to express what the President wanted to say.
7
"America does not currently have a functioning democracy" would be a better translation.
8
Carter is right, and so is the German magazine.

You gave up your Democratic Republic for a false sense of security.
9
Well, this Carter fellow has certainly lost my vote.
10
I voted for Gore.
11
@10 I voted for Reagan...twice.
12
@11 In the same election! WOCKA WOCKA!
13
Carter gets a bad rap. Not as bad a President as he's often made out to be. Certainly better then Shrub. Teed up the economy for the recovery Reagan benefited from. Likely would have had a second term if it hadn't been for an ill wind in the desert. Has been a ground changing ex-President.

He is also right, currently our democratic republic is not functioning. One of the three branches has given up on governing.
14
Can he please say that in a New York Times oped? Bitte?
15
@10
That shithead teargassed me at the DNC so I voted Nader.
16
is the senate functioning?
17
He's actually been saying this for years, so it's not really news. His organization that oversees elections would not oversee the elections in the US unless major changes were made to ensure that the elections were fair.

I do wish more people would pay attention to him, even if I don't agree that this is 'news'.
18
@16 no.

Has it ever?
19
"Dysfunctional democracy" sounds about right.
20
Is someone actually positing that it is in any way functioning?
21
Our despicable, loathsome, and relentlessly vile political, business, and economic "leaders" are busy stealing every cent they can get their psychopathic hands on, while the government, environment, and lives of 80% of the KKKountry's citizens continue to implode. These so-called "elites" are also above the law and any attempts at accountability, which is irrelevant anyway since they rewrite the laws to legalize their deranged, unethical behavior. This isn't dysfunctional--the system is working precisely as they've designed.

Technically, we're living in a kleptocracy.
22
The man is 88 years old. Cut him some slack.
23
It's not noteworthy unless you put a sexy picture of Jimmy Carter on the cover of Rolling Stone, and then everyone can pretend to be outraged about it.
24
Maybe he's referring to the permanent deadlock in Congress, where the minority party has finagled a majority effect by cheating, in both the Senate (which now needs 60 votes to pass so much as a small fart) or the House (which has a large seat majority with a large vote minority), and uses this to shut down government, and then brags about it? The current administratioin's appointees are being blocked at about the same level as EVERY PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATION COMBINED.

Because Republicans are motherfuckers.

@15, if you were teargassed you deserved it. Shame you didn't get a lethal dose. And a Nader voter to boot -- how perfect. You are a morally defective human being.
25
He forgot to add "wake up, sheeple!1!!"
26
The first sentence missed a bit in machine translation. I'd render it:

"The former US President Jimmy Carter has, in the wake of the NSA spying scandal, heavily criticized the American political system."

(a less literal version would be to move the central clause to the end and remove the commas)
27
Senior moment.
28
Well, duh.
29
Oh look more homicidal rage directed at anyone who doesn't support the one party state. Being called morally defective is quite compliment when it comes from an authoritarian fascist like you.

Seriously Fnarf you need to look at getting some meds or counseling or something. Living with this much pent up rage and violent thoughts is unhealthy for both the heart and the mind.

Perhaps you are just having trouble accepting your age and mortality causing you to have some sort of midlife crisis. But please look into some treatment, not for me but for Ms Fnarf and the people who love you.
30
Ol' Man Peanut also said that the "Zimmerman jury made 'right decision'"

Which makes the point that a guy who makes houses out of chicken wire and egg carton crates....needs to take his medicine more often!
31
the full quote:
"I think the jury made the right decision based on the evidence presented because the prosecution inadvertently set the standard so high that the jury had to be convinced that it was a deliberate act by Zimmerman and that he was not at all defending himself," Carter said.
32
oh and that was not translated from der german.
33
Funny to hear that criticism from him seeing as how he's never met a dictator or terrorist he didn't like
34
#31

He smart then.

35
Glad to see someone as note-worthy as Carter saying it. Lord knows it's been true for years. Those with the power have no interest in changing it, and those with the interest are working two or three jobs to make ends meet.
36
#34 i think you have to understand carter's comments on a jury verdict within the larger context of the non-functioning democracy. mmmmkay?
37
@13: As I recall Carter was doing OK before the one and only debate where Reagan creamed him.

Of course having mysteriously acquired the Carter briefing books for the debate by the Reagan team helped a hell of a lot.
If you know not only the kind of thing your opponent will say but many of the actual sentences you can look pretty fast and smart.

38
@37, you're right; Carter was doing quite well before Reagan read his line, "There you go again!" with that disgusting fake folksy grin. And also before the Republican machine made certain that the captives weren't let loose until Reagan got into office.

And if any of you have 1/1000th of the smarts that Carter does when you're 89, you and the people who otherwise would have to mop up your drool will be extremely lucky.
39
The corporate media problem is a noteworthy part of the larger no-democracy problem. Paul alluded to it by pointing out that the U.S. media apparently missed this huge story. Then again, Carter shouldn't be so goddamn coy. I second the "Carter should put that in a NYT op-ed" request.
40
he was referring to the NSA thing you fucking retards; not republicans.
41
Aside from Carter and as long as we're bringing up Reagan, I am so thoroughly tired of accepting the typical Reagan hagiography without question like it's some article of faith. Even Obama does it. It's like a religion, or good social manners. "Thou shalt not criticize Reagan, one of our great presidents, unless you want to be impolite." So much bullcrap.
42
He's still eligible for one more term.

Carter 2016!
43
@29, I would be quite thrilled to see America adopt a two-party system, with competing ranks of people with thoughtful disagreements about how the country should be run. That would unfortunately involve the replacement of the Republican Party, your special favorite, as they are currently beyond redemption. There's nothing "conservative" about them. They're radical to the core, and if there are any fascists running about, Godwin, they're on your side of the aisle, not mine.

But it's not even the fascism I mind; it's the dishonesty. The GOP is built on lies. They even lie about their own positions, in addition to lying about science and other things that intelligent people think about.

Not you, of course; you never think about anything except whether that noise at the door is a gang of Negroes coming to take your Skittles or just the wind.

As far as rage goes, anyone who knows me in person would tell you that the first characteristic that comes to mind is "funny", not "violent". I've never committed a violent act in my life -- well, not since I got into that fight with DJ Bridlebaugh in seventh grade English. You on the other hand have never said anything funny or clever or interesting (except in the pathological sense) in your life. All you do is run around the street with a pistol in your hand frightening everybody.

By the way, there is no such person as "Ms Fnarf"; she is "Mrs. Fnarf" on Slog, and something entirely different in real life, which you are unlikely to ever be lucky enough to discover.

Ralph Nader, though. That was a good one, I'll admit. If only you knew WHY it was funny.
44
@42 lol, he wouldn't do it besides at this point what would he do that Clinton or Biden wouldn't? I'd like to see something fresher more progressive at this point. Cuomo has some promise.
45
I am really impressed by some of the thoughtful comments made by David, Sarah 70, Notaboomer, Machiavelli was framed, and Will in Seattle. It is so refreshing to hear people voicing some thoughtful points about Carter. Those in power have gone to a lot of trouble to discredit a man who has throughout his life demonstrated a strong sense of integrity and justice. He is one of the few people with the courage to stand up for true democracy and to shed light on the rhetoric those in power have so carefully cultivated.

Yep, I would vote for Carter in 2016 in a second - but Nader and Rocky Anderson are also good eggs.
46
Fluent German speaker here. Your translation is accurate. The article doesn't give the full context, but it does give some possible hints. It says "just before that, the Democrat had criticized the practices of the US intelligence agencies." It also says "he decried the growing political polarization in the US, the excessive influence of money in US elections, and confusing voting laws."

By the way @6, contra Wikipedia, Kenedy's "ich bin ein Berliner" line is an error, not in the sense of "waoh that guy just called himself a jelly donut and I have no idea what he was trying to say" but in the sense of "ha ha that's not quite right". There seems to be some militant Kennedy apologist contingent dedicated to citing obscure archaic rules to claim that Kennedy didn't make an error, but certainly in the minds of his listeners he did make a minor one, and there is plenty of back and forth on the talk page for that Wikipedia article about it.

@4, there is no contradiction between a democracy and a police state, providing, as your comment seems to grant, that the majority want a police state.
47
@Fnarf well you just said that you wished he got gassed to death and "he probably deserved it". Ease your sphincter ffs...

48
When you look at the long list of important accomplishments of the 113th Congress, you'd have to be a damn fool to disagree with that statement.
49
I am really impressed by the comments made by David, Sarah 70, Notaboomer, Machiavelli was framed, and Will in Seattle. It is so refreshing to hear people voicing some thoughtful points about Carter. Those in power have gone to a lot of trouble to discredit a man who has throughout his life demonstrated a strong sense of integrity and justice. He is one of the few people with the courage to stand up for true democracy and to shed light on the rhetoric those in power have so carefully cultivated.

Yep, I would vote for Carter in 2016 in a second - He's not perfect but he is a person worthy of respect and far better than any of the presidents following him.
50
Carter always was an understated sort of guy.
51
um; I'm pretty sure he's not referring to republicans here but rather the nsa spying scandal. most of these comments are a great example of why were fucked; the rational, objective atheists are just as bad as the bad guys when it comes to denial and straight up lying.
52
"I would be quite thrilled to see America adopt a two-party system,"

Why Fnarf? I voted for Reagan twice, and now Obama twice. Seems to me you should be demanding the Democrats move to the left because from what I can tell, they're successfully absorbing many moderate conservatives like myself by governing from the center the way Reagan did.
53
By the way, some is remember life under Carter: 16 percent inflation, 22 percent interest rates, and 70 percent marginal tax rates.

That's why he lost the election morons.
54
@51: please cite 1 example of rational atheist denial and lies that are "just as bad" as, say, senator inhofe denying climate change.
55
The United States is by any honest reckoning a rogue nation; our nation tortures, imprisons people with no charges for years/decades, claims the right to preemptively kill anyone the executive decides to (citizen or non, anywhere in the world), incarcerates a larger percentage of our population than any nation, claims the right to monitor communications of any person via phone, internet, and post, imposes our economic demands on every nation... plus the kleptocracy thing, and the utterly non-functional Congress, the steady grinding-down of the poor, gutting of public services and public education, government that neither makes law nor upholds the Constitution but exists only to defend the power of the wealthy to own more. (See Michael Ventura's great columns at Austin Chronicle, "An Arbitrary Nation"). I'm glad that Carter is capable of stating the obvious. The Left-Right sniping is getting old -- as citizens, we should all be concerned with the collapse of democracy.
56
read the constitution, it lets an unequalized senate make or block laws. QED we are not a democracy.

also, no voting rights for some of our citizens, a point that most conservatives, and most liberals, seem entirely content with. millions lack voting rights.

then, the illegal practice known as the filibuster...heartily endorsed by the democratic party which does nothing to change it, being bought off by crumbs like getting four nominees appointed after the more liberal ones were taken off the list for consideration or stepped aside. the entire system skews WAY to the right, with the more or less tacit acquiescence of democrats. locally, after we moaned endlessly about Romney pacs and citizens united we are now blithely accepting a so called liberal state senator taking TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS in through the dependentPAC his folks set up for him operating to snag money from developers, downtown types, the cop guild, the obesity industry, the anti minimum wage association, etc.

this you note doesn't even get into our acceptance of torture and indefinite detention or the nsa crimes against us, and the world.

57
@55 sounds like a terrible place. Will you be joining the exodus of refugees from Miami Beach to Cuba?
58
Lessee, Bacon cheers and laughs upon learning of peoples' deaths, whetheraccidental overdose or violence.

Then has the gall to call someone ELSE pathological.

Oh, and Bacon accuses people of wanting to live in a fascist state. Despite the facts, facts showing those same people are against the government's police-state actions.

Then Bacon gets all pissed-off at being called names, meanwhile Bacon enjoys name-calling and hurling insults.

Comedy gold from the freakshow fringe.
59
My understanding is that back when Carter was lucky enough to hold office we had the likes of Kennedy and Tip making sure the GOP in Congress couldn't obstruct the actual work. Without strong Dem Congressional leaders riding herd in ways Carter never deigned to, I bet his term would be remembered for getting even less done.
60
I love how everyone things Jimmy Carter is in retrospect. Sure, he wasn't the worst president in the universe or anything, but it's not like his hands are sparkling clean. This is the man who started the "secret wars" in Central America and kicked off the economic deregulation jihad that has been raging ever since. In fact, aside from his reformed (post-presidency) foreign policy stance and human rights pretenses, he was in many ways a far more conservative president than Obama, certainly fiscally, and a bedraggled prelude to Reagan. But I know some liberals and progressives like to enshrine these former presidents distant in memory and gloss over their faults in order to make the current guy look like a lousy sellout. People like their simple narratives, which is why you end up with civil libertarians praising FDR over his economic policies (which I agree with wholeheartedly) and ability to get things done while ignoring his human rights violations and tendency to shit all over the constitution. In order "fight the devils" of today we have to enlist "saints" of yesterday.
61
I love how everyone thinks Jimmy Carter is this great statesman in retrospect. Sure, he wasn't the worst president in the universe or anything, but it's not like his hands are sparkling clean. After all, this is the man who started the "secret wars" in Central America and kicked off the economic deregulation jihad that has been raging ever since. In fact, aside from his reformed (post-presidency) foreign policy stance and human rights pretenses, he was in many ways a far more conservative president than Obama, certainly fiscally, and a bedraggled prelude to Reagan. But I know some liberals and progressives like to enshrine these former presidents distant in memory and gloss over their faults in order to make the current guy look like a lousy sellout. People like their simple narratives, which is why you end up with civil libertarians praising FDR over his economic policies (which I agree with wholeheartedly) and ability to get things done while ignoring his human rights violations and tendency to shit all over the constitution. In order "fight the devils" of today we have to enlist "saints" of yesterday.
62
Can you not have a democratic police state? I think our elections are more or less working (I would argue they are too influenced by money and corporations, but they are real and the person who wins takes office). I don't think the enchroachments on our freedom mean we are less of a democracy.
63
@60-61 - He may not have been perfect, but he was no Reagan. Reagan made a lot of hay out of the fact that Carter basically said that we needed to curb our consumption and address the effects of that consumption was having. Not heeding that warning and choosing to stick its head in the sand instead may end up being America's bigest folly...
64
I'm not saying Carter = Reagan, just that he kicked off the deregulation spree that Republicans and Democrats would continue to present, and that he started the Central American wars that Reagan would continue. That doesn't meant they're exactly the same ideologically or stylistically. As for what Carter said about consumption, that's all fine and well, but there's a difference between rhetoric and action. As Obama has demonstrated, lofty speeches and legislative action (putting your money where you mouth is) are two different things.
65
Thanks to the Tea-hadi Republican Party former President Carter is absolutely right.

Those motherfuckers are dedicated to destroying the institutions of governance and de-stabilizing what used to be a civil society and they are succeeding.

Reagan was the beginning of the end.
66
@11: You know that's exactly what the closeted married Mormon lawyer in Angels in America said to the man he would soon be fucking. The symbolism is especially delicious after Prop 8. Great play you should check it out, it won the Pulitzer.
Not a happy ending for that dude, though.