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I was deeply saddened by the passing of Elijah Cummings last week. I’ve actually had the privilege of meeting the man and found him to be very affable and easy to chat with. I’ve always been impressed with his sense of justice when it comes to civil rights because he was raised in the days of segregation, his dad was a sharecropper, and he, like most blacks during the '50s and '60s, he fully experienced the evils of racism. In his efforts to leave this place better off than he found it, his statesmanship far outweighed his political desires. Even those who disagreed with him said that Cummings spoke with his soul rather than with his party.

Yes I know the Fox News fans were told he was just another liberal Democrat and he was, but he didn’t spend his career tearing things down. Rather, he did all he could to build a better world for everyone. He understood that his job was to serve his people rather than himself and there’s nothing easy about that. He once said, “In the city of Baltimore, there are over a thousand monuments, and not one monument is erected to memorialize a critic, rather every one of those monuments is erected to memorialize one who was severely criticized.”

Recently he had been assigned the very difficult task of chairing the House Oversight Committee charged with investigating Trump and Russian interference in our elections. Noting that way too many of us have tuned out, and literally been overwhelmed to the point of exhaustion regarding all the political shenanigans, Chairman Cummings said, “I’m begging the American people to pay attention to what is going on. Because if you want to have democracy intact for your children and children’s children, and generations yet unborn we have to guard this moment … this is our watch.”

And yes it is our watch, and watching what’s going on in our country lately has not been a pleasant experience. Both my loyal readers know that I am not a Trump supporter, but I have tried over and over to rationalize his behavior and every time I’ve been disappointed.

I’ll give his supporters a few things when it comes to the economy because the facts indicate that we’re doing very well with low unemployment, wage increases. But at what expense? It seems to me that part of economic success is due to a rollback of numerous regulations designed to assure us that big business is held accountable for their actions, such things as dumping industrial waste into waterways, enforcing the Clean Air Act, repealing Obamacare without offering an alternative, passing tax relief that adds a trillion dollars a year to our deficit, using presidential powers to get foreign governments to advance his political desires, abandoning the Kurds, separating families at the border, housing kids in horrible conditions, and so many other questionable "drain the swamp" maneuvers that have created a fog of deception and distraction that’s impossible to track.

Cummings' task was to try and sort all this stuff out and he approached it with a calmness that gave a sense of fairness based on the rule of law. He will be missed.

Here’s my full assessment of the Trump administration: He reminds me of the blind javelin thrower. He wasn’t very good at throwing the javelin but he sure kept the crowd’s attention. And that my friend is what Cummings meant when he asked us to pay attention to what’s going on. It’s our watch, our task to preserve our republic for generations yet to come. I hope that you’ll keep watch with me.

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Dan Ulmer is a parent, grandparent, as well as a retired teacher, counselor, politician, lobbyist, public employee, nonprofit executive and opinionated citizen who believes that we need to do what we can to leave the world better off than we found it.

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