Maryland’s 7th Congressional District and Elijah Cummings

Alan Zendell, July 28, 2019

Context is everything. To be clear, I’m writing this as a white voter from an affluent, racially diverse county in central Maryland. Our median household income is nearly twice the national average. Our population is 51% white, 19% Asian (primarily Korean, Indian, and Chinese) and 18% African American. We have over 100 churches, many of which are inter-denominational, eight synagogues, and a mosque. While Maryland is generally considered a blue state, it has a two-term Republican governor who gave serious consideration to challenging Donald Trump’s re-election. My county is as purple as it can be.

I am in Elijah Cummings’ Congressional district, and I proudly support and vote for him. He has represented most of Baltimore and its western suburbs since 1996, a black man known for his folksy, laid back style who rarely raises his voice, and never resorts to insulting invective or divisive tactics. As such he is the perfect foil for Donald Trump’s hateful racist rhetoric, but if Trump expects to intimidate Cummings he picked the wrong opponent.

By now the entire world has seen Trump’s Twitter attack: “Cummings’ district is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess. If he spent more time in Baltimore, maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous and filthy place…No human being would want to live there.”

In typical Trump fashion, every word of that tweet is either false or gross hyperbole. Cummings has devoted his entire career as an attorney and politician to improving the lives of his constituents. Like most large American cities, Baltimore has suffered greatly from poverty, drug trafficking, and gun violence, and has neighborhoods that I wouldn’t walk through without body armor. But handicapped by the loss of much of its tax base and the laughable incompetence of its local government, it has still made massive strides in transforming itself.

I spent several hours in Baltimore, yesterday with my wife and some friends. We drove across a large segment of the city, actually marveling at how impressive the new development is. We saw thousands of people, mostly diverse groups of families waiting in line to see the Ravens practice, a thriving tourist area teeming with people, and neat, older, well-maintained neighborhoods. No rats, no infestation of any kind, no garbage in the streets, no filth, and no violence. And the human beings who live there, among whom are several of my friends, seem very happy to be there.

What our president did yesterday was another despicable example of how unfit he is to serve and represent us, much less lead. And make no mistake. As inarticulate as Trump is, he knows exactly what he’s saying. As CNN’s Victor Blackwell said in his emotional defense of the city he loves, it was the word “infested,” carefully chosen by Trump that tells us what goes on in our President’s sick mind.

As Blackwell points out, even with his embarrassingly limited vocabulary, Trump is an eloquent hate-monger. He knows how to get inside the guts of people, and he understands how one word can convey the kind of racist horror much of his base responds to. Blackwell correctly and tearfully noted that infested is one of Trump’s favorite words – crime infested, rat infested, disease infested. What do you picture when you hear that? It’s what spews repeatedly from our president’s mouth, and it has nothing at all to do with leadership or trying to improve the lives of Americans.

Trump himself represents the worst possible kind of infestation, a viral corruption of soul, of intellect, of common decency and morality that diminishes everything it touches with his unique brand of hate. I believe it’s a sign of desperation by a man who wants nothing less than absolute power to transform the country in his image of white supremacy and privilege. It tells me that he knows he will never expand his base unless he can denigrate everyone else in the minds of voters, and if he continues to lose support from independent voters who now see him for what he is, he will lose.

Except for exaggerated and made up self-adulation, when was the last time we heard anything positive from our president? Does he not understand how he is destroying the fabric that made our country great? Or is it simply that in his lust for power and wealth he doesn’t care?

Donald Trump is a cancer that must be removed before it kills us.

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3 Responses to Maryland’s 7th Congressional District and Elijah Cummings

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