Jamie Raskin talks impeachment, the future of democracy and a Republican ‘cult’ at SOC town hall
‘We need to stand up for democracy and freedom, and people can’t be afraid.’
Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin discussed the youth vote, the Republican “cult” and the future of American democracy at a town hall hosted by the School of Communication and Kennedy Political Union Sept. 14.
Raskin, who represents Maryland’s 8th Congressional District, was the lead impeachment manager in former president Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial and served on the House of Representatives committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection. Raskin also serves as a professor of law emeritus in the Washington College of Law.
The town hall began with moderator Jane Hall, a professor in SOC, asking Raskin about House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s announcement that Republicans would be starting an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.
“It’s stupid,” Raskin said. “The constitutional standard for impeachment is treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors. And after seven months of investigation in the Oversight Committee, or the Judiciary Committee, by the Weaponization Committee, they don’t have a shred of evidence linking President Biden to any criminal wrongdoing.”
Raskin explained that McCarthy owes his speakership to a “20 or 25 MAGA Republican” vote margin that helped him win after one of the longest elections for speaker of the House in American history.
“The whole world was watching for a week when he could not form a majority as they escalated their various demands that they extracted from him on his road to becoming speaker …” Raskin said. “He’s constantly catering to the extreme right.”
Raskin expressed his discontent with the “cult” of the Republican Party, noting that the party used to represent progressive values and the future of democracy.
When the GOP was founded, Raskin said, it was “pro-freedom, anti-slavery, pro-union, anti-Know Nothing, pro-immigrant. That was the Republican Party, and Lincoln would turn over his grave to see what Donald Trump has done to his party.”
He also said that the Republican Party isn’t keeping up with what youth voters want and that one of his main priorities going into his reelection campaign is listening to what his Gen Z constituents have to say. Raskin said that he believes Democrats can take back the House, and potentially the Senate, in 2024, but only if they look at what young voters care about.
“They do know that the polls show that this generation favors the Democrats over everybody else by 12 or 14 points,” he said. “And so people say well, ‘what’s the difference between 2020 and 2024?’ One difference: we will have 14 or 15 million new young voters who are pro-choice, who are pro-environment, [who are] very concerned about climate change, want action on climate change, want action on student loans and all that kind of stuff.”
According to Raskin, when the government doesn’t take the attitudes and feelings of those they represent into account, the general public often disagrees wildly with the decisions made in government. Raskin gave the overturning of Roe v. Wade as an example of this.
“America is a country that believes in freedom and the ability of every woman and every man to make decisions for themselves, and not having a bunch of theocrats in state capitals dictating their destiny,” Raskin said. “What do we need to do? We need to stand up for democracy and freedom, and people can’t be afraid.”
Correction: A previously version of this article mistakenly wrote "anti-no nothing" in place of "anti-Know Nothing." The article has been updated to reflect the accurate spelling.
This article was edited by Kate Corliss, Jordan Young and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Luna Jinks.