We have some idea as to why President Donald Trump decided to attack U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., via Twitter over the weekend. Cummings is the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and in that role he is investigating the possibility of inappropriate conduct by the president or by his administration, just as Republican chairs of House Oversight conducted investigations of Democratic presidents. It is a key component of our system of checks and balances.
The president does like to use Twitter to swipe at his political opponents. But there is, we feel, a significant flaw in his attack on Cummings.
“Rep, Elijah Cummings has been a brutal bully, shouting and screaming at the great men & women of Border Patrol about conditions at the Southern Border, when actually his Baltimore district is FAR WORSE and more dangerous,” Trump tweeted early Saturday morning. “His district is considered the Worst in the USA...... Cumming 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 & filthy place … Why is so much money sent to the Elijah Cummings district when it is considered the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States. No human being would want to live there.”
Here’s the problem, Mr. President: His district also is your district.
Sometimes we get the feeling President Trump sees himself as the president of the people who voted for him.
But he’s the president of all Americans, including the ones who did not vote for him, and including the people of Cummings’ congressional district, the Maryland 7th.
As the chief executive, it also is the president’s job to find ways to improve the lives of the impoverished in Cummings’ district. Rather than tweeting about how “infested” Cummings’ district is, the president could be spending his time advocating for Republican Party positions and policies to improve the lives of the people of the Maryland 7th, to motivate people there to vote Republican in 2020.
Cummings’ district comprises about half of the City of Baltimore and the majority of neighboring Howard County. The City of Baltimore is not without its problems with regard to poverty and crime.
For what it’s worth, in December 2015, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., then and now a presidential candidate, was quoted by the Baltimore Sun as saying the following about Baltimore: “Anyone who took the walk that we took around this neighborhood would not think you’re in a wealthy nation. You would think that you were in a Third World country.”
At the moment he’s a senator representing only Vermont, but he should take note of the fact that, out on the campaign trail, he’s asking the people of Baltimore to be his constituents, starting on Jan. 20, 2021, and that perhaps they don’t care to have one of their neighborhoods characterized as “a Third World country.”
While Rep. Cummings is neither the mayor of Baltimore nor the Baltimore County executive, he has represented the Maryland 7th since January 1997, and became chairman of House Oversight early this year. He has power to effect change in his district. (For that matter, so does Sanders, who has been a senator since 2007 and was a congressman for 16 years before that.)
Bipartisan solutions need to be found to lift the poor people of Cummings’ district, and every congressional district, out of poverty.
All of the people of the Maryland 7th, whether rich, middle-class or poor, are Cummings’ constituents.
But Mr. President, they are your constituents, too.