Opinion: What my husband, Elijah Cummings, would say if he were alive today


The disrespect and blatant hypocrisy displayed by Trump and McConnell completely encapsulates the political perversion we have seen over practically 4 years. From Trump’s wicked assaults in opposition to undocumented immigrants to his nasty and divisive rhetoric to his seemingly by no means ending record of scandals and his gross mishandling of Covid-19, Trump’s poisonous mixture of political inexperience, lying and crafty have introduced heartache, nervousness and loss to far too many Americans. That he has been protected by Republicans who’ve engaged in a sample of asymmetrical political warfare designed to make sure their partisan benefit on the expense of our structure and democratic establishments is devastating.
My late husband, Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, who handed away in October of 2019, was not solely involved in regards to the Republican Party’s irreverence, he was deeply disturbed by Trump’s erratic and autocratic fashion of management. So a lot in order that, by the tip of his life, he had decided that Trump was not merely unfit for the place of president, however that he was additionally an imminent hazard to the American individuals and our system of presidency. Elijah, fairly merely, considered the 2020 election because the battle for the way forward for our democracy.

The son of two preachers, Elijah was raised to consider in truthful play, which meant that you just performed by the foundations, handled individuals the best way you needed to be handled and did not decide a guide by its cowl.

So, when Trump turned President of the United States after a contentious marketing campaign, and after Elijah’s buddy and mentor — the late Georgia. Rep. John Lewis — called on Democrats to boycott the inauguration, he sought Lewis’s blessing to attend. Why? Because, regardless of all that had occurred, he needed to make a superb religion effort to work with the brand new president whereas respecting the establishments of our republic.

If there was a possibility to work with Trump to get issues completed for the American individuals, he was decided to seek out it. So, Elijah and I went to the inauguration and the post-inaugural luncheon the place he launched himself to the President and pitched the concept of working collectively to decrease prescription drug costs to assist the American individuals.

But after a gathering in early 2017, which Elijah initially thought went fairly properly, Trump promptly lied to the media about what Elijah stated and confirmed no urge for food to collaborate on prescription drug pricing.
That is, till July of 2020, when — in a seemingly determined marketing campaign transfer — he signed a collection of government orders claiming sole credit for attempting to decrease prescription drug prices, intentionally thumbing his nostril on the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Prescription Drug Costs Now invoice (named in Elijah’s honor) which was passed within the House on the finish of 2019.
Elijah would not have been shocked at Trump’s slight as a result of he’d watched Trump denigrate former President Barack Obama and try and undo or claim credit for Obama administration accomplishments.
Growing up within the Jim Crow South, Elijah understood how the psychology and ethos of racism prevented individuals from acknowledging the concepts, accomplishments and dignity of individuals of coloration as a result of they essentially conflicted with their very own perception system. Trump’s consolation utilizing racist and dehumanizing language and adopting racist policies merely strengthened Elijah’s perceptions about Trump’s inherent biases and his incapability to steer a various nation. Trump’s repeated attacks on Baltimore, a various US metropolis that Trump has constantly tried to outline as undeserving and outdoors of the physique politic, was yet one more proof level.
Although Elijah thought-about the assaults in opposition to him and Baltimore painful, certainly one of his greatest considerations was with what he referred to as the President’s “empathy deficit,” or incapability to grasp and really feel the ache of others. The investigations Elijah led on the kid separations of migrant households on the US southern border led him to consider that Trump had a streak of cruelty that exposed an excessive indifference to the worth of human life.
Elijah wrote his guide, “We’re Better Than This: My Fight for the Future of our Democracy,” earlier than the world ever knew the novel coronavirus was coming, however if he were alive to see what has transpired, he would have deduced that Trump’s response was not merely inept however got here at the price of harmless American lives.
Trump’s non-public acknowledgement to Bob Woodward that he knew the illness was lethal from the very starting (“it goes through the air,” he instructed Woodward in February) would have made it clear that his failure to develop a nationwide plan, his efforts to misinform and disinform and his administration’s lawsuit to invalidate the Affordable Care Act within the midst of a world pandemic endangered all Americans — however particularly African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans, who’ve alarming and disproportionately high rates of Covid-19 infections and deaths.
Elijah additionally decided that Trump doesn’t perceive or appear to care about civics, so he tramples over guidelines, norms and restrictions in a method that locations the establishments of our democracy underneath excessive menace. In Elijah’s lifetime, Trump’s flagrant disregard for democratic norms took the type of telling brazen and constant falsehoods, refusing to testify or turn over paperwork, ignoring subpoenas, and leveraging the courts to stonewall and avoid accountability. Since Elijah’s loss of life, the Justice Department, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the US Postal Service are only a few public establishments that Trump has flagrantly used in opposition to the American individuals for his personal personal and political profit.

As Elijah predicted, our nation’s democratic establishments are underneath assault and going through a rising disaster of legitimacy. Written within the final yr of Elijah’s life, his guide “We’re Better Than This” — launched today — was his pressing name for the American individuals to do the whole lot of their energy to stop Trump from being reelected. For Elijah believed with each fiber of his being that Trump’s reelection would end result within the loss of life of American democracy and each promise of safety, freedom and justice it affords.



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