President Carter on "The Crisis of Confidence" (1979)

The clear and present danger to 1970s American way of life was the energy crisis. In response to OPEC reducing its global oil supply, President Carter outlined a conservation plan that included regulating public utilities, installing solar hot water panels on the White House, and requesting that Christmas be celebrated without decorative lights. After years of deprivation, no one seemed willing to listen anymore. Here are some words from the July 15, 1979 speech that aimed to shake the nation out of its malaise.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. shortage
    an acute insufficiency
    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.
  2. crisis
    an unstable situation of extreme danger or difficulty
    "Mr. President, we are confronted with a moral and a spiritual crisis."
  3. threat
    something that is a source of danger
    I want to talk to you right now about a fundamental threat to American democracy.
  4. confidence
    a state of hopefulness that events will be favorable
    It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will.
  5. doubt
    the state of being unsure of something
    We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation.
  6. erosion
    a gradual decline of something
    The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America.
  7. progress
    gradual improvement or growth or development
    We've always believed in something called progress. We've always had a faith that the days of our children would be better than our own.
  8. faith
    complete confidence in a person or plan, etc.
    Our people are losing that faith, not only in government itself but in the ability as citizens to serve as the ultimate rulers and shapers of our democracy.
  9. consumption
    the utilization of economic goods to satisfy needs
    In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption.
  10. productivity
    the quality of yielding positive results
    The productivity of American workers is actually dropping, and the willingness of Americans to save for the future has fallen below that of all other people in the Western world.
  11. tragedy
    an event resulting in great loss and misfortune
    These changes did not happen overnight. They've come upon us gradually over the last generation, years that were filled with shocks and tragedy.
  12. dependence
    the state of relying on someone or something else
    We believed that our nation's resources were limitless until 1973, when we had to face a growing dependence on foreign oil.
  13. isolated
    remote and separate physically or socially
    Looking for a way out of this crisis, our people have turned to the Federal government and found it isolated from the mainstream of our nation's life.
  14. stagnation
    a state of inactivity
    Often you see paralysis and stagnation and drift.
  15. strength
    the property of being physically or mentally powerful
    We know the strength of America. We are strong. We can regain our unity. We can regain our confidence. We are the heirs of generations who survived threats much more powerful and awesome than those that challenge us now. Our fathers and mothers were strong men and women who shaped a new society during the Great Depression, who fought world wars, and who carved out a new charter of peace for the world.
  16. unity
    the quality of being fused into one
    And we are the generation that will win the war on the energy problem and in that process rebuild the unity and confidence of America.
  17. fragmentation
    the disintegration of social norms governing behavior
    One is a path I've warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest.
  18. common
    belonging to or participated in by the people as a whole
    All the traditions of our past, all the lessons of our heritage, all the promises of our future point to another path, the path of common purpose and the restoration of American values.
  19. destiny
    a course of events that will inevitably happen in the future
    On the battlefield of energy we can win for our nation a new confidence, and we can seize control again of our common destiny.
  20. excessive
    beyond normal limits
    Our excessive dependence on OPEC has already taken a tremendous toll on our economy and our people.
  21. intolerable
    incapable of being put up with
    This intolerable dependence on foreign oil threatens our economic independence and the very security of our nation. The energy crisis is real. It is worldwide. It is a clear and present danger to our nation.
  22. conservation
    careful management of the environment and natural resources
    From now on, every new addition to our demand for energy will be met from our own production and our own conservation.
  23. alternative
    serving or used in place of another
    To give us energy security, I am asking for the most massive peacetime commitment of funds and resources in our nation's history to develop America's own alternative sources of fuel—from coal, from oil shale, from plant products for gasohol, from unconventional gas, from the sun.
  24. mobilize
    make ready for action or use
    Just as a similar synthetic rubber corporation helped us win World War II, so will we mobilize American determination and ability to win the energy war.
  25. critical
    urgently needed; absolutely necessary
    We will protect our environment. But when this nation critically needs a refinery or a pipeline, we will build it.
  26. fuel
    a substance that can be consumed to produce energy
    And I'm asking you for your good and for your nation's security to take no unnecessary trips, to use carpools or public transportation whenever you can, to park your car one extra day per week, to obey the speed limit, and to set your thermostats to save fuel.
  27. patriotism
    love of country and willingness to sacrifice for it
    Every act of energy conservation like this is more than just common sense—I tell you it is an act of patriotism.
  28. energy
    any source of usable power
    So, the solution of our energy crisis can also help us to conquer the crisis of the spirit in our country.
  29. resource
    a new or reserve supply that can be drawn upon when needed
    We have the natural resources. We have more oil in our shale alone than several Saudi Arabias. We have more coal than any nation on Earth.
  30. technology
    the practical application of science to commerce or industry
    We have the world's highest level of technology.
  31. innovative
    being like nothing done or experienced or created before
    We have the most skilled work force, with innovative genius, and I firmly believe that we have the national will to win this war.
  32. effort
    use of physical or mental energy; hard work
    I do not promise a quick way out of our nation's problems, when the truth is that the only way out is an all-out effort.
  33. awareness
    the state of having knowledge of something
    Just as the search for solutions to our energy shortages has now led us to a new awareness of our Nation's deeper problems, so our willingness to work for those solutions in energy can strengthen us to attack those deeper problems.
  34. inexhaustible
    incapable of being entirely consumed or used up
    I have seen the strength of America in the inexhaustible resources of our people.
  35. rebirth
    a spiritual enlightenment causing personal change
    Let us commit ourselves together to a rebirth of the American spirit.

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