‘Progress Does Not Always Come Easy’
As a legislator in my state
I drew up my first vote to say
that citizens could never vote again
after they had passed away.
My fellow members faced the troubling issue
bravely, locked in hard debate
on whether, after someone’s death had come,
three years should be adequate
to let the family, recollecting him,
determine how a loved one may
have cast a vote if he had only lived
to see the later voting day.
My own neighbors warned me had gone
too far in changing what we’d always done.
I lost the net campaign, and failed to carry
a single precinct with a cemetery.
Jimmy Carter’s collection of poems ‘Always a Reckoning’ is unexpectedly good for a politician, and it was a best seller when published in 1995. And this particular poem is not only amusing, but it resonates strangely with 2020 presidential election, and claims of fraud in the Georgia results. It would appear from the poem that Georgia politics is more honest than it was in the 1960s, anyway.
Jimmy Carter followed a bizarre and contradictory path in politics, always having been firmly committed to racial integration and equality, but having to constantly support people like Alabama segregationalist George Wallace in order to get elected. Then, once elected, trying to move the state’s politics in a direction that many of his backers did not like. Whether things played out the way they are presented in the poem is not something I can determine from a superficial review of his career. But it’s a fun poem, anyway.