Trump, Baltimore and the diminishing potency of the 'race card'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump denies telling Bolton Ukraine aid was tied to investigations Former senior Senate GOP aide says Republicans should call witnesses Title, release date revealed for Bolton memoir MORE’s harsh and angry tweets about the social conditions and hygienic disaster in Baltimore, directed at Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsBaltimore unveils plaques for courthouse to be named after Elijah Cummings GOP leaders encourage retiring lawmakers to give up committee posts Pelosi taps Virginia Democrat for key post on economic panel MORE (D-Md.) and others, were undoubtedly in bad taste. It is understandable, therefore, that The Baltimore Sun editorial board felt compelled to respond in kind, which it did in a scathing editorial that compared the president to vermin.

But the piece went too far when it then blamed the president for Baltimore’s problems with the rationale that “they are as much his responsibility as anyone’s, perhaps more because he holds the most powerful office in the land.” This is a specious argument at best. Perhaps the Office of the President over the successive administrations who have coincided with a declining and rotting city could have helped in some way. But Baltimore’s problems predate the Trump presidency by decades, and have been exacerbated not as much by presidential inaction but by Baltimore’s own failed leadership.

No one likes to have people talk ill of their neighborhood — even if it is one filled with as many seemingly intractable problems as Baltimore faces. But the sad reality is the Baltimore Sun and many city officials, as well as Rep. Cummings, sat idly by while the inner city crumbled and imploded. Their strategy for improving the situation? Hope. And, as it turns out, not an inconsiderable amount of corruption. Baltimore has true legacy problems. But to blame others is not good government. The newspaper’s editorial team needs a refresher course in Civics 101. 


In defense of the president, he has implemented several measures that potentially could help blighted communities such as Baltimore regain their luster. Foremost among them is the president’s initiative for Opportunity Zones, which facilitate private investment specifically targeted towards bringing industry and creating jobs in underserved communities. What if, instead of critiquing Trump, Baltimore’s leadership were to take him up on his offer and come up with creative solutions that can attract private investment that would bring jobs, tax revenue and badly needed infrastructure improvements to the city?

A true assessment of the legacy problems facing Baltimore has to start with a hard look at what folks are doing wrong. Why is it that Baltimore’s most elite police unit — the gun trace task force — apparently was able to operate like an armed drug gang for years without oversight? Why is it that Baltimore’s schools are among the worst in the country? Why does the murder rate in Baltimore continue to run rampant? There are a lot of things that could be accomplished with a fair bit of introspection and perspective, rather than finger-pointing.

In fact, Rep. Cummings should be at the front of the line in pushing for a federal blue-ribbon review of the city and his entire district. That’s the change we all hope for and desperately need. Sadly, one of the reasons people hate politics is that truth is rarely a politician’s objective; election and power are. Somehow, amidst all of the grandstanding, real solutions usually get pushed by the wayside.

Calling President Trump racist, trash or any harsh name you can muster doesn’t excuse Baltimore elected officials of their failed leadership that has allowed exasperating crime, making it one of the most dangerous cities in America, and one of the worst education systems. Large sections of what could be a beautiful town are overrun by vacancy and decay. 

Playing the race card is losing its luster. It loses its potency when the entire city has been run by largely black leadership for decades while problems have festered. Trump did not preside over the destruction of Baltimore and the failure of its residents. If he had, could you even imagine the righteous indignation and shrill screams about the deplorable conditions in Baltimore you’d hear from the left? But because the city is run by liberal Democrats, it’s almost like the offense to black residents of having to live amidst such a mess goes unmentioned.

What’s more racist: the president’s harsh remarks, or the decades of harsh actions (and inaction) of the liberal leadership that have failed the people of Baltimore? You can’t play the race card to excuse what the citizens of Baltimore witness daily. 

Armstrong Williams (@ARightSide) is the owner and manager of Howard Stirk Holdings I & II Broadcast Television Stations and the 2016 Multicultural Media Broadcast Owner of the Year. He is the author of “Reawakening Virtues.”