On February 24, I watched in horror as Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine. I’m sure you did too. It was just surreal. It was footage that looked like it belonged in a different era.
Since then, the world has changed and is changing still. New global alliances are reforming. Old geopolitical pressures, like the previously unquestioned might of the Russian military, are now obsolete. New geopolitical pressures are quickly filling the vacuum, including a supercharged NATO and sanctions so powerful they can drive a country as big as Russia into default.
While these new world pressures realign the globe, the same pressures have realigned my experience with war. I remember the evening of March 20, 2003. It was my second semester at Georgia Tech. I was in my dorm room with my friends, crowding around the TV sitting under my roommate’s lofted bed. I remember thinking that three months before that date, on December 10, 2002, I was in Oslo, Norway, watching my grandfather accept the Nobel Peace Prize. And now, my friends and I were watching a campaign on TV that President George W. Bush called “Shock and Awe”. I watched as America dropped bombs on Iraq. I listened to Donald Rumsfeld tell me that the war would last a few days, a few weeks, maybe a few months. However, I had just learned from my grandfather’s Nobel Peace Prize lecture that Ralph Bunch, the first African American, and first person of African descent to win the Nobel Peace Prize, had warned the world back in 1950 that Don Rumsfeld was likely incorrect.
The objective of any who sincerely believe in peace clearly must be to exhaust every honorable recourse in the effort to save the peace. The world has had ample evidence that war begets only conditions that beget further war.Jimmy Carter quoting Ralph Bunche – Nobel Peace Prize Lecture – December 10, 2002
Since that day in March, I have watched every war around the globe pretty much the same way. I’d devour articles in major papers and magazines. I’d watch news clips and documentaries.
But this war, I’m watching real-time. I used to escape into Reddit for silly things like people doing stupid stuff with cars, people making fantastic art, or people’s pets being derps. Now, Reddit is a window into the full horrors of war. We watch battles in real-time from all angles. We witness war crimes as they happen. We watch the death, destruction, and misery that make war so atrocious. I’ve since downloaded the Telegram app to get news from Ukraine directly. I’m so glued to it that I no longer have to translate the Russian or Ukrainian words “Air Raid Siren”, “Dead”, “Captured”, or “Not Identified”.
This episode was difficult to compose. In this episode, I tell you the story about my experience with my grandfather winning the Nobel Peace Prize and how the lessons from his lecture resonate today. I also aim to apply the lessons of my grandfather’s lifelong quest for peace against the backdrop of the death and destruction we see in Ukraine. I wanted to do this while exploring the new geopolitical pressures and realities as they change live-time.
But mostly, my inescapable conclusion is that the Russian war in Ukraine is proving the unchanging principle delivered at the close of my grandfather’s Nobel Peace Prize lecture.
War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other’s children.Jimmy Carter – Nobel Peace Prize Lecture – December 10, 2002
America’s Democracy is in peril.
Donald Trump incited his followers to overturn the will of the American People in a failed, bloody coup on January 6, 2021. This attack on The United States, this attack on our Constitution, this attack on Democracy itself should have been the end of Donald Trump.
Sadly, 1 year later, Trump is gaslighting the violence he started that day. His supporters continue to threaten the lives of Republicans who choose America and the Constitution over his autocracy, and all of the election officials that protect our Democracy and give us the freedom to choose our own government.
The Americans that believe the Big Lie are in the minority. The overwhelming majority of Americans know that the 2020 election was free, fair, and counted correctly.
As Jimmy Carter’s grandson, I have watched him protect and spread Democracy in America and around the world for my entire life. He has monitored more than 110 elections in 39 countries, and often I watched him as he navigated leaders in countries taking their first steps away from autocracy and toward democratic self-rule. It is no stretch to say that Jimmy Carter’s life work is spreading Democracy.
And today, we have one former President that is determined to end Democracy in America, and he is closer than I ever thought possible.
In this episode, I talk about how January 6, 2021 compared to January 6, 1981 and January 6, 2001. I discuss the election that was almost stolen from Jimmy Carter, and how that experience sparked a lifelong commitment toward protecting Democracy. And I share my view on the narrow path forward that America must take to ensure that our Constitution stands, that our Democracy is protected, and that our Freedom to choose our own leaders remains central to the 245-year-old American experiment.
Listen on your Podcast app or click here to play.
Episode 6 of my podcast is a tribute to my mom, who I lost last month. Below is the text of the eulogy I delivered at her memorial service in Maranatha Baptist Church, in Plains, Georgia. The video of the service can be found here.
Annette Davis Carter was born on November 5, 1952. She died on September 19, 2021 at age 68. She was my mom. Annette lived a remarkable life. She was born in Arlington, Georgia to George and Dorothy Davis, and she met my dad on the first day of school at Georgia Southwestern. My dad saw her across the student center while he was playing spades, and told his friends to turn around and look at that pretty girl that just walked in. He told them he was going to marry her, and four years later he did.
On his second day of college, my dad found out that he was in the same math class as Annette. She failed her first exam, and my dad hAnd the very next day, my dad found out that he was in the same math class as Annette, so he sat right behind her. She failed her first exam, and my dad helpfully offered to tutor her. My mom didn’t object to seeing more of this kid from Plains, and she agreed that she needed some help in math. This was strictly educational, and didn’t have anything to do with the fact that tutors were allowed to stay in the girls’ dorm until 10:00. My mom got a B in that class, and my dad got a C. My mom loved that part of the story, but if dad was around, none of us ever went to mom for help in math.
Up until two weeks ago, my parents had been together since that math class. They dated while my grandfather Jimmy Carter was the governor of Georgia, and she went with my dad on the presidential campaign. The whole family was involved with the campaign, and each family member was in charge of a different state. My mom and my dad had some of their best friends from college join the campaign, and many of you are in the room right now, and they drove all over the country campaigning door to door to get Jimmy Carter elected. And they really irritated my grandfather by causing him to take a day out of campaigning to get married, but they did it anyway. On April 6, 1975. They were married for 46 years.
My parents enjoyed being newlyweds alone together. They liked hosting friends and entertaining, which they did for about 8 years before they had me. My mom had three boys. I was the oldest, then they had Jeremy, and then Jamie. After Jamie, my parents stopped trying for a girl. My mom was a homemaker, and she was devoted to raising her three boys. My mom ran us to school, summer camp, soccer games, doctor’s appointments, restaurants, and friends’ houses. Even though we would often drive her crazy, she loved her boys more than anything. One of her favorite new-parent stories came out of my preschool graduation. Someone told her the wrong time for our class graduation, and she showed up right as it ended. She didn’t get to see me walk across the stage to graduate from preschool. Annette collapsed in a pew in the back of the church sobbing that she missed the big event. My teacher, thinking quickly, told us that the first graduation was just a practice, and we all lined up and walked again for my mom.
My favorite story of my mom was on my dad’s 60th birthday. We also liked hosting friends and entertaining, so I invited my parents and my brothers up to my house to celebrate. His present that year was a copy Goodnight Moon, and a birthday card that said “Happy Birthday, Grandpa! Love Josh, Sarah, and Baby”. My mom and dad were sitting next to each other on the couch, reading the card together. And before my dad finished reading it, my mom snatched it out of his hand, clutched it to her chest, immediately started crying, and she tackled my wife Sarah. My dad was at first shocked and confused that he was left out of his birthday present surprise, which seemed like a big one, but he put it together half a second later. I never saw her so happy.
My wife and I had another son, and my brother Jamie finally gave her a granddaughter. She loved her grandkids with all her heart.
Jamie and I formed relationships and moved out of their house after college. My brother Jeremy lived at home. For the rest of Jeremy’s life, he stayed up late hanging out with my mom, almost every night. My brother Jeremy died suddenly 5 days before Christmas in 2015. My Jamie and I formed relationships and moved out of their house after college. But my brother Jeremy lived at home. For the rest of Jeremy’s life, he stayed up late hanging out with my mom, almost every night. My brother Jeremy died suddenly 5 days before Christmas in 2015. My brother’s death changed our family forever. I didn’t know anything could hurt that bad. My main comfort through all of this is that my mom no longer misses Jeremy.
These last few weeks have been extremely hard. Even though we had a little time to prepare, it didn’t make it any easier. There’s no way to prepare for losing your mom. We are all heartbroken all over again. I’m looking forward to the time when I can focus on the memories of my mom that I like a lot better.
For example, In the obituary, we wrote that my mother loved a white elephant gift. White Elephant gifts though were a year-round affair in our house. Dad would call us on Valentines’ Day and ask “What do y’all want for Christmas?” We’d laugh, and my dad’s annual ritual was throwing in the towel. “I can’t stop her. It’s no use.” My mom would start setting out presents in June. By the time December 25th finally rolled around, you couldn’t hardly walk into the living room, let alone get near the tree. And they weren’t all prizes. One bag might be a jar of salsa. One bag was almost certainly socks. I got a bag of air once. I got pickles a lot. My mom was offbeat. For her, Christmas wasn’t only a time for giving. Christmas was a time for fun. We’ll be silly. We’ll be ridiculous. We’ll make each other laugh. It was really funny to her for Jamie and me to drive away with a car full of random stuff that we didn’t know what to do with. It was also immensely satisfying to her to get our kids really excited. She never forgot anyone. Every single year, she bought toys for distant cousins that I didn’t even know I had, but those cousins, maybe fourth cousins, twice removed, would have a present from Annette under the tree on Christmas morning.
My mom would hide Christmas presents in her office. And I was looking in her office just moments after she died, and the first thing I found was a small, handwritten note in a bowl on her desk. I found the symmetry a little astounding. It stopped me in my tracks.
The note itself is not dated, but I knew immediately it was written on April 24, 1991. That was the letter she wrote me when she gave me my brother. And now that I have Jamie, I don’t have to do this alone.
Goodnight Mommy. I love you too.
Annette Davis Carter was born in Arlington, Georgia on November 5, 1952, to George and Dorothy Davis. She died on September 19, 2021, at the age of 68.
Annette spent her childhood in Arlington with her family and went on to live a remarkable life. She met Jeff Carter, the love of her life and her future husband, on the first day of school at Georgia Southwestern University. Jeff saw her across the student center while he was playing spades, and he told his friends to turn around and look at that pretty girl that just walked in. He told them he was going to marry her, and four years later he did. Jeff and Annette dated through college and were married on April 6, 1975. They were married for 46 years.
Annette was the daughter-in-law of then Governor Jimmy Carter. As newlyweds, she and Jeff traveled the country working on the Carter presidential campaign. Jimmy Carter won the presidency in 1976. As part of the presidential family, Jeff and Annette’s first house together was the White House. While living in the White House, Jeff and Annette helped host everybody from Bob Dylan to Pope John Paul II. In some of Annette’s favorite White House memories, she greeted the cast of Star Wars after the release of “A New Hope” and John Travolta after he starred in “Saturday Night Fever” and “Grease.” These experiences were quite extraordinary for Jeff and Annette’s first few years of marriage.
Annette and Jeff moved out of the White House before the end of the Carter Administration, and they enjoyed each other’s company for eight years before they started a family. Their first son Joshua was born in Virginia in 1984. In 1985, Annette and Jeff moved to Peachtree City, Georgia, where they grew their family with two more boys. Their son Jeremy was born in 1987, and James was born in 1991.
Annette was a homemaker, and she was devoted to raising her three boys. Joshua and James graduated from college and started families. Joshua and his wife Sarah gave Annette her first two grandchildren, Charles and Jonathan. James and his fiancée Anna finally gave Annette a little girl with her granddaughter Rayna.
Annette will be remembered by her friends and family for her easy smile, her fun-loving sense of humor, and her caring nature. She loved to laugh at a particularly bad white elephant gift or a ridiculous pair of earrings. She always saved stories or comics that she thought would make her sons smile. Annette was a prolific storyteller and often had her listeners in gales of laughter by the end of one of her tales. She loved her family and her friends with all her heart, and they loved her back with all of theirs.
Annette is survived by her husband Jeff, her children Joshua (Sarah) and James (Anna), and her grandchildren Charles, Jonathan, and Rayna. Annette is preceded in death by her middle child Jeremy. Jeremy was a loss that never healed until her passing. She is also preceded in death by her parents George and Dorothy Davis.
A celebration of Annette’s life will be held at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia on Saturday, October 2nd at 2:00 pm. If you wish to celebrate Annette’s life, the family asks that all in attendance be vaccinated and masked, as Annette’s immediate family includes immunocompromised individuals that are not yet eligible for the vaccine. Options to attend virtually will be available. Flowers for the service are welcome. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving, where Annette Carter served on the Board, are greatly appreciated. The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving can be found at www.rosalynncarter.org.
I am back on the mic! I certainly did not plan on launching a podcast and then dropping it for a couple of months. I also didn’t plan on my toddler landing in the hospital. Stop me if you heard this one, but things didn’t go exactly to plan in 2020. I think we are ok now.
I actually recorded multiple versions of this episode, and I finally landed on something that wasn’t outdated before I published it. I watched every minute of the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and I was so moved that I wanted to talk about it. I love to nerd out on this kind of stuff, so, for this episode, I do. Democracy, The White House, Garth Brooks… what’s not to like?
I also wanted to give y’all an update on what’s been going on with my family since my last episode. So if you click Play, I’ll tell you about Jonathan, my job, woodworking, and my socially distanced conversation with my grandparents from their conversations with Joe and Kamala.
Please listen and let me know what you think! I have also FINALLY started posting things on Instagram, so please follow me @unchangingprinciples.
Our son Jonathan has a very rare disease called Very Early Onset Inflammatory Bowel Disease, which is an auto-immune disease where his body attacks his GI Tract. Treating our son’s disease has consumed our life for the past 2 years. His treatment is unbelievably expensive. But we have hope, and we have the Affordable Care Act. I talk about it in my new episode here.
The Affordable Care Act protects Jonathan. The Affordable Care Act requires that insurance companies provide him coverage. The Affordable Care Act guarantees me the right to appeal any decision that his insurance company denies. The Affordable Care Act removes the insurance company’s annual and lifetime caps on Jonathan’s care, and it provides me with a maximum out of pocket payment cap.
The protections provided to my family by the Affordable Care Act are critical for us navigating Jonathan’s care. Please listen to my story about Jonathan here and share my story with others.
However, the Republican Party has attacked the Affordable Care Act for over a decade. They have voted more than 60 times to repeal the law, and it now faces its third Supreme Court challenge. Donald Trump has made it clear that he picked Amy Barrett for the Supreme Court because she has been critical of the Constitutional foundation of the Affordable Care Act. Last week, in an interview with 60 Minutes, Donald Trump confirmed that he hopes the Supreme Court will end it. If we lose the Affordable Care Act, Jonathan’s protections vanish.
VOTE to end the Republican Party’s attacks on the Affordable Care Act.
VOTE to end the Republican Party’s attacks on families like mine, battling an expensive and difficult disease.
We need everybody to work together on improving medical coverage in the United States, but we cannot do that until we tell the Republican Party that their attacks on the Affordable Care Act no longer win them elections.
That’s the power of the ballot. Once We The People deliver that lesson, they won’t do it anymore. VOTE.
In this episode, I discuss our nation’s founding, and how one of my favorite people in history, Benjamin Franklin, helped ensure that the power of our government continues to be held by We The People through Democracy. I have examples where Democracy is kept, and what happens when governments specifically disclude Democracy as part of their foundation.
I think that one of the starkest examples of countries embracing Democracy, and then countries rejecting Democracy, is the difference in governments between North Korea and South Korea. So in this episode, I explore what happened, what failed, and why these two countries are so dramatically different.
And I explore the current attacks on our Democracy from the current administration, and how we as Americans can protect our country from these attacks.
Thank you so much for listening to my podcast. Please email me at email@example.com with any questions and feedback. Or just drop me a note in the comments. I read everything and I would LOVE to hear from you!
What interests you? What questions do you have for me? Do you still like my show? I love your feedback, and the best thing you can do for me is to rate this podcast wherever you downloaded it and tell your friends!
Thank you for listening!
Episode 1 – Introduction is published!
I am so thankful to you for listening to my podcast Unchanging Principles.
My grandfather, Jimmy Carter, was the President of the United States from 1977 to 1981. Jimmy Carter did not start his political career running for President. He was a Senator in the Georgia Senate, and then he was Governor of Georgia before he ran for our nation’s highest office.
My grandfather formed his positions, distilled his values, and shaped his vision of our nation through the times he grew up in. Jimmy Carter ascended to the national stage at a time in our country where racial tensions were high and faith in our government was at an all-time low. After the bruising scandals of the Nixon era, my grandfather campaigned on honesty, integrity, competency in government, and faith in the American people.
But the 1970s’ were a long time ago, so in my first episode, I would like to re-introduce you to Jimmy Carter so that you get an idea of where I am coming from. And I’ll have stories about my life and my family throughout the podcast, starting with this one.
If you just want to hit Play, you can find Unchanging Principles streaming right here! And I’m going to tack Streaming Now! to the top of this website so you can listen to my show wherever you have internet access.
Thank you so much,
Here’s what a couple of hours in Photoshop got me for the podcast album art. Do you like it?
Let me know. firstname.lastname@example.org