Views from a Hill Conventional wisdom says that Jimmy Carter was a weak president who led the nation into a state of malaise, and then Ronald Reagan came along and made us believe in ourselves again. The conventional wisdom is firmly ensconced. Journalists, politicians, and mainstream historians all spout it. But itâs not the truth. During the Carter presidency there was a brief moment when the window was open to the possibility of making some much needed change. Vietnam had left the country in bad shapeâpolitically, economically, and psychologically. We were down, but it had nothing to do with Carter. That was already the situation when he came into office. Heâs been the only president in my lifetime who said openly that the country ran on some false assumptions. One of the most egregious is the idea that we can constantly raise our standard of living, that there can be endless economic growth. This is an impossibility logically, and he seems to have known it. Carter made some effort to get the country to understand that we were entering an era of limits. He tried to get people to take the energy situation seriously. He was vilified for telling the truth. Reagan came along and undid any progress Carter may have made toward opening up a discussion about reality. One of Reaganâs first acts as president was to take down the solar panels that Carter had had installed on the White House roofâone of the most foolish symbolic moves any American president has ever made. He liked to say that âconservation just means we all freeze in the dark.â It says a great deal about the man. He gave people simple answers and resold the people on the fantasy aspects of the American Dream. The prosperity that followed was all done on credit. As somebody once said, âwe borrowed money from the Japanese and threw a party.â There wasnât any new era of production, and in the end thatâs what creates real wealth. Weâve been living in Reaganâs dream world ever since.