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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Jimmy Carter [exact date unavailable], 1974. Interview A-0066. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Democratic candidates benefit from increased voter participation

The Democratic Party is more likely than the Republican Party to capitalize on the increasing level of political involvement among voters. Carter expresses here his concept of new voter agency and freedom.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Jimmy Carter [exact date unavailable], 1974. Interview A-0066. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JIMMY CARTER:
Now, I said both Democratic and Republican candidates who turn to the populist view can win. But there's an inherent difference, in my opinion, between Democrats and Republicans. In my opinion, the basic nature of the difference between the two parties is that the Democratic party is always predicating its support on the people themselves. There have been times that an oligarchy could arise in a state, with major corporations, power companies, other utility companies, railroads, and so forth, banks, you know, speaking for the people in the absence of their inclination to speak for themselves. But, in general, Democratic candidates-there are obviously notable examples-tend to go directly to the people and understand what the people want. The Republican party, at the national level and otherwise, basically predicate their financial support and their organizational structure on the fact that a few very prominent people and very highly qualified people and very influential people, can be spokesmen for a vast number of citizens. And they get a lot of money from individual contributors with a small number of contributions on the average. Democrats, on the average, get a lot of small contributions. There's a basic difference in the two parties' philosophy, and I think this is mirrored accurately in the polls and in the attitudes in Congress and historically. Well, this gives the Democrats a chance, in my opinion, to capitalize on what I like to call a new freedom. That is, that voter's new inclination to be vocal, that's been latent, really, you might say, for two hundred years. And now that inclination of people to speak for themselves has come forward. I think the first inclination that it was coming forward was in the civil rights movement, when Martin Luther King and others, who had formerly been dormant and quiet, said, "We have a right to vote, we have a right to go and get a job where we want to, we have a right to be treated as equals in public facilities." It was a shock to us, but we all sat back and saw that they were successful. Later, student groups demonstrated about environmental issues and civil rights, and we saw to a major degree they were successful. And then the average citizen said, you know, "Why should I let my sheriff speak for me anymore? I'll speak for myself." So there is a new inclination for voters to speak up, and I think