Al Carroll’s book has an appendix examining what presidents did after they were no longer president. Some presidents died in office or shortly after leaving office. Some, like Truman, lived decades after leaving office but didn’t do anything of note. Others accomplished quite a bit.
After leaving office, Carter became one of the greatest humanitarians in world history. He founded the Carter Center dedicated to peace keeping, human rights, and ending global hunger, poverty, and disease. The Carter Center has likely prevented 13 coups or civil wars. Carter himself prevented two wars. In 1994, he negotiated a treaty that led to a dictator in Haiti stepping down. In 2007, he helped prevent a war between the two Koreas. The Carter Center has one of the greatest records in fighting disease including malaria, mumps, rubella, measles, lymphatic filariasis, and has almost completely eliminated Guinea worm. The Carter Center has also helped end malnutrition by teaching 8 million farmers in Ghana better farming techniques. Carter also founded Habitat for Humanity, which has helped build homes for over 4 million people in 16 nations. He’s likely saved millions of lives.
After leaving office, Herbert Hoover dedicated his life to feeding the hungry of Europe both during and after World War II, feeding millions of children.
John Quincy Adams became a congressman for 17 years after his presidency, and became a persistent critic of slavery.
Clinton founded the Clinton Foundation which has helped treat 750,000 AIDS patients. The Clinton Global Initiative has exaggerated how many people it’s helped, but it has worked to end global warming, helped 5 million children get medical equipment, and treated over 30 million people for disease.
Teddy Roosevelt worked on progressive causes the rest of his years, founding the Bull Moose party. Many of their ideas became law such as recalls, referendums, primaries, income tax, direct election of senators, votes for women, and the eight-hour workday. The Bull Moose party was a big influence on his cousin Franklin’s New Deal.
Millard Fillmore became the only ex-president to support terrorism. He ran as candidate of the Know Nothings, a terrorist group responsible for killing at least 50 Catholics.
John Tyler is the only ex-president to commit treason. He became part of the Confederate government, although he died before taking office.
Nixon lived a comfortable life, getting $7 million for the Frost interviews. He accepted a full pardon from Ford, meaning he admitted to committing 13 criminal felonies.
George W. Bush is the first ex-president to face criminal indictments. There are 147 nations he cannot travel to without risk of being prosecuted for torture.
George H. W. Bush went back to being a businessman, taking advantage of classified information, in order to make money and aid his investments.
Towards the end, Carroll reminds us that presidents can’t control the economy, not even dictators can. The only reason to vote should be the candidate’s stance on war and what they’ll do to improve as many lives as possible. I agree that we should all set politics aside and instead focus on electing the most humanitarian candidate, regardless of their party affiliation.