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Fri May 13, 2022, 01:49 PM

Rep. Jamie Raskin on losing his son and saving democracy - Unthinkable - VTDigger

Great interview with David Goodman (brother of Amy).

Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin was expecting trouble after the November 2020 presidential election. Raskin and his Democratic colleagues in Congress anticipated that former President Donald Trump would try to subvert the results and try to derail Congressís normally pro-forma certification of President Joe Bidenís election.

But Raskin was blindsided. On December 31, 2020, Raskinís only son, Tommy, a promising young student at Harvard Law School, took his own life after a long struggle with depression.
Don't miss an episode.

Seven days later ó and just a day after burying his son ó Raskin returned to Congress to cast his vote to certify Bidenís election. Thatís when Trump supporters mounted a violent insurrection in the U.S. Capitol, egged on by the defeated president. Speaker Nancy Pelosi then tapped the grieving Raskin to be lead manager in Trumpís second impeachment trial. Since the summer, Raskin has been a member of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the Capitol.

Raskin tells his intensely personal and political story in his new book, ďUnthinkable: Trauma, Truth, and the Trials of American Democracy.Ē

David Goodman

I want to finish where we began. It's been almost a year and a half since Tommy's passing. How is he with you now? How is the mission that you have in Congress and in life connected to the terrible experience you've been through?

Jamie Raskin

Tommy was someone who had great dreams for democracy. He wanted a lot more from democracy, not a lot less from it. I feel very driven by the things that he saw and the things that he believed in. And I feel the same way, that we need to be asking a lot more of ourselves, not a lot less from ourselves. I feel very connected to his generation of Americans because they've had a hell of a time. There's a huge emotional mental health crisis among young people now. People used to talk about mental health stigma. They don't really talk about it anymore because when you've got problems like depression and anxiety that are afflicting a majority of an age cohort in the country, it's hard to stigmatize it. And the surgeon general has declared there to be a national emergency in mental and emotional health among the young, all the way down through middle school and elementary school. So everybody is on an individual odyssey with respect to their psychological and emotional health, but it does exist in a social context. Covid-19 was a brutal and isolating time for people and a really demoralizing time for the young. I know it was in Tommy's case, and I know what the other young people in our family have gone through. I feel we owe it to them to fight for them ó and also to get them to see that politics ó although it's never going to be a complete answer for anybody, is a large part of the answer that people need to make a connection with others in their generation and with people who have fought for freedom and democracy before them. That's going to be part of the solution for us reestablishing a sense of well-being and security in a really dangerous moment for democracy. I feel connected to Tommy's generation, and I know how many young people loved him and miss him. I am a poor substitute for my son, but I'm going to do everything I can to fight for that generation.

David Goodman is an award-winning journalist and the author of a dozen books, including four New York Times bestsellers that he co-authored with his sister, Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman. His work has appeared in Mother Jones, New York Times, Outside, Boston Globe and other publications. He is the host of The Vermont Conversation, a VTDigger podcast featuring in-depth interviews about local and national topics. The Vermont Conversation is also an hour-long weekly radio program that can be heard on Wednesday at 1 p.m. on WDEV/Radio Vermont.

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