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Why Does No One Care That Trump Is Lying About Elijah Cummings’ District?

July 30, 2019
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1. He’s Lying, Again

There’s a great deal to unpack in the Trump-Elijah Cummings-Baltimore incident.

So let’s start with the fact that Cummings has been a pretty great colleague to his Republican friends in the House. He’s the kind of old-school member who takes the idea that “we’re all friends here” seriously.

Then there’s the racism. (You should read Andrew Egger’s piece on this.)

But buried deep down in all of this is the question of truth.

Here is what Trump said about Cummings and Maryland’s 7th district:

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. His district is considered the Worst in the USA…..

….As proven last week during a Congressional tour, the Border is clean, efficient & well run, just very crowded. 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. Where is all this money going? How much is stolen? Investigate this corrupt mess immediately!

So here is my question: Exactly who says that Maryland’s 7th district is “considered the Worst in the USA” and “considered the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States.”

Let’s have some citations here. Heck, let’s just have one citation.

I’ll save you the trouble, because there aren’t any. Because exactly nobody—nobody, anywhere in the world—considers Maryland’s 7th district “the Worst in the USA” or “the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States.”

Nobody. This statement by the president is a lie.

When I say it’s a lie, I say this because Trump is not simply saying that Maryland’s 7th district is the worst. That would just be his opinion. It would be an incorrect opinion (we’ll get to that in a minute) but it wouldn’t be a lie.

But by  saying that it “is considered” the worst, most dangerous, etc. Trump is claiming that some mass of popular opinion and thought—not just him, Donald Trump—holds these views.

And this is not true. It is a lie. The president of the United States is lying to you. And he is lying in an attempt to disparage and denigrate America. (Kind of makes you want to tell him to love or leave it, doesn’t it?)

So let’s get to the opinion part. Why is it that nobody considers the Maryland 7th district  “the Worst in the USA” or “the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States”?

Because by every objective measure it is not even close.

Here are some things you may or may not know about Maryland’s 7th district:

  • It includes Johns Hopkins University, Johns Hopkins Hospital (which is one of the two or three best medical centers in the world), and Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
  • It stretches as far west as Mount Airy.
  • This western part of the district is essentially farmland.
  • The median household income in the United States is $59,000. The median household income in MD-7 is $61,000.
  • 11 percent of district residents are foreign-born (compared to 13.5 percent for the U.S.).
  • In educational attainment, MD-7 is right around the national average: 88.8 percent high school graduate and 38 percent a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • The majority of workers in MD-7 are white collar though there is a sizable blue-collar working class.

You can find all of this and more from the Census, here.

If you wanted to rank congressional districts by markers that might suggest they are the “worst” there are people who do that. Take this list of districts by median household income. (NY-15 is dead last, with a median income less than half that of MD-7.)

There are rankings for districts by life expectancy (last is Kentucky’s 5th district) and educational attainment (last is Texas’ 29th district).

My point is that to believe that Maryland’s 7th district is “the worst” you have to know basically nothing about American life. Because not only is it not “technically” the “worst,” it’s not even close. By every conceivable measure, MD-7 is on the high side of average.

Does it matter that the president of the United States doesn’t know any of this?

Does it matter that he’s lying when he says that other people agree with his incorrect opinion?

Does it matter that the man who two weeks ago said that people who are critical of America ought to go back to where they came from is now lying about America in an attempt to criticize it?

Don’t get me wrong. The race-based aspect of this incident is bad. Very bad.

But I can’t help thinking that the fact that everyone just assumes that Trump is lying about the underlying facts and that this lie is baked into the cake is even worse.