Adam Goodman: Elijah Cummings is what conscience looks like

Yet amid the muck, a star was re-born. As a Baltimorean, I’ve long followed Cummings’ career. The son of sharecroppers; the voice for the disadvantaged and dispossessed; the pillar of decency who had not been numbed by bigotry but moved by the belief the nation could overcome it.

Cummings reminded all of us what we had to do, what we were responsible to do, when democracy is threatened. Lose the lawyer-driven drivel and tell the truth, no holds barred. Less sanctimony, more testimony. Then let the American people decide what to do about it.

Let’s be clear about what this was not. Cummings’ was not a liberal libretto from a liberal politician intent on harming to the other side. His was not some calculated performance to drive ratings and incite rantings, or to elevate his stature.

No, Elijah Cummings was coming from a different place. He opened by going right after Cohen, saying any more lies and he would throw open the gates of hell against the transgressor. Given his biblical namesake, a prophet and miracle worker, the congregation was well-advised to heed this.

Then Cummings spoke like a real person dealing with a real issue with openness and candor. Maybe, just maybe, Mr. Cohen – despite his half-truths and full-on lies — would nevertheless lead us closer to the truth. Maybe, just maybe, Mr. Cohen wanted to repent, in a nation now pushing second chances for offenders.

This day, from the bully pulpit, Cummings spoke to all of us. “I’ve listened to all of this, and it’s very painful. We’re better than this…we’re so much better than this. The greatest gift Mr. President, that you and I can give our children, is to leave them a democracy that is intact, better than the one that we came upon…so they can do better than what we did.”

This is what conscience sounds like.

This is what America can be like.

Sing it, Elijah.

For all of us.


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