It was Carter, not Reagan, who brought the religious right into national politics. Even though they turned against him later, Carter won the Southern evangelical vote in 1976 by advertising himself as a born-again Christian. Like Reagan later, Carter, the folksy farmer and veteran from Plains, Ga., appealed to the nostalgia of white Americans in the 1970s for a simpler, more rural, more traditional society.
Carter, not Reagan, pioneered the role of the fiscally conservative governor who runs against the mess in Washington, promising to shrink the bureaucracy and balance the budget. Early in his administration, Carter was praised by some on the right for his economic conservatism. Ronald Reagan even wrote a newspaper column titled "Give Carter a Chance." The most conservative Democrat in the White House since Grover Cleveland, Carter fought most of his battles with Democratic liberals, not Republican conservatives.
Carter, not Reagan, presided over the dismantling of the New Deal regulatory system in airlines, railroads and trucking. Intended to reduce inflation by reducing the costs of essential infrastructure to business, Carter's market-oriented reforms have backfired, producing constant bankruptcies and predatory hub-and-spoke monopolies in the airline industry, an oligopolistic private railroad industry that has abandoned passenger rail for freight, and underpaid, overworked truckers.