(BALTIMORE – May 23, 2020) – It’s Memorial Day weekend, and while many of us will acknowledge the holiday with somber remembrance, Donald Trump will use it as yet another insincere photo opp; this time in Baltimore with a scheduled visit to Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. We don’t want him here.
Little less than a year ago, Trump insulted my late husband, Elijah Cummings, calling him a “brutal bully” for drawing attention to the humanitarian crisis at the southern U.S. border and noting the inhumanity of separating children from their parents. Trump then went on to call our city of Baltimore a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” with conditions “far worse and more dangerous” than those at the southern border. I have no doubt his hateful and vitriolic rhetoric hastened my husband’s death just three months later.
So how dare he come to Baltimore now? In my town, those are fighting words. And I’m ready to fight for my husband’s sacrifice, for the people of Baltimore, for our democracy, and for our future. That’s why I’m running for Congress to represent Elijah’s former seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. I’m not afraid of Donald Trump and will stand up to him and be an advocate for my community, just like Elijah was.
While there is much to see in the Baltimore region – vibrant communities and beautiful neighborhoods full of history, yet some struggling from lack of opportunity – he will not take time to see these places. He won’t even spare a moment to visit Johns Hopkins University where he might learn something from its world-class researchers who actually have data and science-informed information that can save lives. Nor will he look at the mess he created by gross mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic. Small businesses are shuttered, hospitals are filled with COVID-19 patients, and previously working families stand on line at food banks.
We are grieving in Baltimore this Memorial Day. We honor those in the armed services who bravely lost their lives fighting for American freedoms, but we are also mourning the people we’ve lost to COVID-19.
Our hearts are especially heavy because so many of these deaths didn’t have to happen. With a quicker response, a comprehensive plan, decisive action and accurate information from the President, things could have been different. The disproportionate number of deaths of black, brown and older people in our region and across the state and nation are shocking to our conscience. They are yet another reminder that Donald Trump’s words and policies have had the effect of harming black and brown people especially.
Most Baltimoreans are also mourning the loss of compassionate, intelligent, inclusive leadership in the White House. We yearn for the time when a President of the United States would express care for people and focus on how to solve our nation’s challenges.
So again I ask: how dare Donald J. Trump come to Baltimore? We deserve more than serving as a prop for his drivel or as a photo opp for his fake patriotism. We deserve an apology for his failed leadership, lies, racism, sexism, insults, greed, corruption, and anti-democratic tendencies. We also deserve capable, effective, efficient and solutions-oriented leadership.
But we will never get it while he’s in office. Because just as sure as the day is long, Donald J. Trump’s visit to Fort McHenry will be about himself and his delusions of grandeur. He will wax and wane about his superior intellect, his ‘successful’ hydroxychloroquine treatments, and whatever fake conspiracy he is cooking up that day to distract from very real crises he has created or exacerbated.
So, on this Memorial Day let’s turn our eyes away from the spectacle at Locust Point and remember that this year is an important election year. Donald J. Trump has proven he’s not to be trusted or indulged. Let’s honor the memories of our dead by casting our ballots for Trump’s presidential opponent. It’s time to turn the page on this failed presidency so we can rebuild our health, wealth, democracy, and hope for the future.
Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings is the widow of the late Congressman Elijah Cummings and a candidate for Congress in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District.