Jimmy Carter, The "Crisis of Confidence" Speech
Televised speech on July 15, 1979
Good evening. This is a special night for me. Exactly three years ago, on July 15, 1976, I accepted the nomination of
my party to run for president of the United States.
I promised you a president who is not isolated from the people, who feels your pain, and who shares your
dreams and who draws his strength and his wisdom from you.
During the past three years I've spoken to you on many occasions about national concerns, the energy crisis,
reorganizing the government, our nation's economy, and issues of war and especially peace. But over those years the
subjects of the speeches, the talks, and the press conferences have become increasingly narrow, focused more and
more on what the isolated world of Washington thinks is
important. Gradually, you've heard more and more
about what the government thinks or what the government should be doing and less and less about our nation's
hopes, our dreams, and our vision of the future.
Ten days ago I had planned to speak to you again about a very important subject -- energy. For the fifth time I
would have described the urgency of the problem and laid out a series of legislative recommendations to the
Congress. But as I was preparing to speak, I began to ask myself the same question that I now know has been
troubling many of you. Why have we not been able to get together as a nation to resolve our serious energy
It's clear that the true problems of our Nation are much deeper -- deeper than gasoline lines or energy
shortages, deeper even than inflation or recession. And I realize more than ever that as president I need your help.
So I decided to reach out and listen to the voices of America.
I invited to Camp David people from almost every segment of our society -- business and labor, teachers and
preachers, governors, mayors, and private citizens. And then I left Camp David to listen to other Americans, men
and women like you.
It has been an extraordinary ten days, and I want to share with you
what I've heard. First of all, I got a
lot of personal advice. Let me quote a few of the typical comments that I wrote down:
This from a southern governor: "Mr. President, you are not leading this nation -- you're just managing the
"You don't see the people enough any more."
“Some of your Cabinet members don't seem loyal. There is not enough discipline among your disciples."
"Don't talk to us about politics or the mechanics of government, but about an understanding of our common
"Mr. President, we're in trouble. Talk to us about blood and sweat and tears."
"If you lead, Mr. President, we will follow."
Many people talked about themselves and about the condition of our nation.
This from a young woman in Pennsylvania: "I feel so far from government. I feel like ordinary people are