If Everything Looks Hopeless, You’re the Hope

Interview with Congressman Jamie Raskin

Grace Timan

Today we interviewed Representative Jamie Raskin, who is currently involved in the trial committee that is examining the January 6th insurrection. Going into the interview, we were unsure what exactly it was going to be like. I was nervous regarding the questions, as I hadn’t been in the original group that wrote the questions for the congressman. Although I was unsure of what to expect regarding the interview, there were still many points that stood out to me. 

In his interview, the passion that Raskin showed for his work really impacted me. The congressman has been through unspeakable tragedies, things that could truly break the spirit of the average individual. What was so inspiring to me was that throughout all of his tragedies he is able to keep the same optimism and excitement for his job. We asked him how he has been able to maintain these feelings of optimism, and he responded with a quotation from his father: “When it seems like there’s no hope, you are the hope.” When thinking about the darker subject matter that has shrouded politics as of late, it is really impactful to reflect on how our elected officials are able to upkeep their mental health throughout this trying process. I have spent a lot of time working in activism and when working with subject matter that directly affects me and my community, it can be mentally draining to continue to work. His perspective gave me some light that I can bring into my next pursuit in activism and politics. 

Addy Catterall-Pendleton

Today we Interviewed Congressman Jamie Raskin, who is leading the investigation into the January 6 insurrection. It was a fascinating interview, and I think that Representative Raskin is one of the most well-spoken people I have ever met.

What struck me most from this interview was the topic of the two-party system and the way Raskin explained it. He said, “political parties are the oxygen of democracy, and they are examples of freedom of speech.” From my viewpoint, given everything I have seen in these past couple of years, political parties seem to be little more than groups of angry people who are unable to listen to one another, and who constantly feud. Raskin helped me to realize that what I was seeing was less of a political party and more of a “religious cult,” as Raskin called it, led by a former president.

Representative Raskin touched on climate change in our interview as well. He called climate change a “civil emergency.” I appreciated his use of this term to describe it, because even today there is not enough talk about climate change. He stated further that we cannot solve the problem of climate change without first “fixing our democracy.” We are at a point in time in our democracy in which people cannot agree with one another on many issues, leaving a rift between the two political parties that results in nothing getting done. Raskin believes that “people build trust by working in democracy.” Republicans and Democrats must work together to build trust in each other to solve problems like climate change. Until we can close the rift and make our democracy stronger, we will be unable to work together enough to solve the problems that threaten our very existence on this planet.

Ben Pearson

Today we had a short but very insightful interview with Rep. Jamie Raskin (Maryland). We discussed a variety of topics, such as the January 6th insurrection, climate change, and the current state of bipartisanship. Congressman Raskin is an incredibly well-spoken person, which is extremely inspirational for me. Every response to our questions was substantive, and I especially liked that he was clearly true to himself and his beliefs, often incorporating a quotation that summarized his core values. I was both awestruck and a little intimidated by the extent of his knowledge, although we barely scratched the surface of what he could have shared with us. 

While discussing how we must go about repairing our democracy after the assault on the Capitol, Raskin argued that trust is regained through action. We are in a time in which words often deviate from reality and honesty—for example, so-called “alternative facts”—and Raskin’s initiative in working to fortify the fundamental principles of our democracy was inspirational. He is leading the investigation into the insurrection, and in doing so he is demonstrating some of the values he discussed with us during the interview. While talking about bipartisanship in response to a question about finding a “balance” between the two major parties, he talked about how as a member of a democratic society there are values or commitments that must be held to a higher priority than the commitments of one’s party. We live in a time when people must come together, not as Democrats or Republicans but as members of a democratic society, to work to repair our country so that we can get to work solving difficult problems such as climate change. This idea was my biggest takeaway from the interview: it is very easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole of worrying about the problems our nation faces, but without a functioning democracy, substantive policy and progress are difficult if not impossible.

Rep. Raskin shared with us something his father told him when he was younger: “If everything looks hopeless, you’re the hope.” This idea is going to stick with me for a while, as it is so motivational because it inspires a sense of responsibility in me. Today’s interviews set a very high bar for subsequent interviews, and I am very excited to learn more as we continue the interview process this week.