As a candidate for president in 1976, Jimmy Carter called for a government “as honest and decent and fair and competent and truthful and idealistic as are the American people.” The cynics rolled their eyes. They misjudged him.

Carter believed sincerely in the potential goodness of both the government and its people, and we would all be so much better off if more politicians did. Leadership can inspire the best or worst in people. He strove for the best.

A version of this editorial first appeared in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

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