Congressman Jamie Raskin Speaks to WHS Students About the Constitution, the Partisan Divide and More
by Eikaiva Boyer
Congressman Jamie Raskin, a representative of House of Representatives, came to Walkersville High School on May 9th, 2017 and spoke to our students about the details of his job and answered questions from the students.
Raskin addressed many questions from students about current policies that in are in place, and really any questions they had about the day to day life as a congressman. Before Raskin started, he actually quizzed his audience (social study students) about the government, such as how many representatives do we have in the state of Maryland, or the election process of becoming president.
Here are Raskin’s views on certain issues:
Topic: Electoral College
Raskin made an interesting point on how we don’t elect governors, senators, representatives like we elect our president of our entire country. Raskin’s first bill he wanted to go through with was about “changing the system,” Raskin worded. Raskin, like most Democrats, believe that the electoral college is fragmented system that needs to be changed. Raskin even went into further detail talking about how Putin, the dictator of Russia, is brainstorming a plan to rig elections, so we should be asking, “How are we letting this happen?” This we may not know how to answer, though, we know what our constitution is based off of, “We the people.”
“You know what is so special about our constitution? It’s three words. ‘We the people.’I believe this was the magic breakthrough of the constitution,” commented Raskin. Raskin actually teaches about the constitution’s bill of rights.
Topic: How It All Started
“My grandfather was actually in politics, so I was exposed to it.” Raskin actually went to college at the young age of 16, and studied government, with a minor in English. Raskin later decided to run for office in 2006, “I said to myself, “I’m going to run for state senate because I wasn’t happy with the current senator,” so Raskin made a difference. “I remember the headlines saying ‘Raskin’s victory is impossible’ and after some time after the campaign started running, they stated ‘Raskin’s victory is inevitable.’ I have the courage to tell people what I think, to represent what they think, and to educate.” Raskin is also currently on three different committees, and five different sub-committees. “I have meetings all day,” but Raskin believes the alternative to talking is violence.
Topic: Trump’s Presidency
“Obviously I never supported him.” Although, after he was elected presidency, he felt he reached an ethical dilemma. Raskin also does not support communism.
Topic: Climate Change
“I knew a guy once, (who was a Republican) and we were talking about the issue of climate change. He said to me ‘Well you know we have our scientists, and you have your scientists.’ Well science doesn’t work like that. The guy said to me, ‘Professionals built the Titanic, amateurs built the ark.’ Well my response to him was that would you rather have surgeons who perform heart surgery, should they be professionals or amateurs? What about people who build airplanes?” “Let the science govern,” commented Raskin. He actally ran the majority of his campaign on climate change, marriage equality, and the death penalty.
Topic: LGBTQ/Trangender Rights
“We have division in a Trump presidency. Under the law, everyone has to be equal.”
Topic: Medical/Legalization of Marijuana
“I’m the one that introduced legalization on medical marijuana. There’s no reason you should spend years in jail for marijuana. Although, you all (students) have a lot [of] better things to do with your brain then getting stoned on a Saturday night.”
Topic: 2nd Amendment, Bearing Arms
“Everyone has a right to bear arms. Now this is not legalizing assault weapons, or for example giving guns to the mentally unstable.” Raskin believes we have a right to bear arms, but they need to be under regulations.
Topic: Immigrants in the U.S
“This country was made by immigrants. We are a nation of immigrants. People came here for freedom. All are welcome.
Topic: The Women’s March
“I think the women’s march was one of the greatest movements in American history.”
Topic: Lowering Tuition Cost
“I think we should make an attempt to lower tuition cost in college.” Although Raskin feels it would be very hard to have a completely tuition free community college, he feels it would compete heavily with private universities; though he feels were heading in the right direction. We need to figure out a way for a fair choice between colleges.
Topic: Affirmative Action
“I want to take an institution and make affirmative efforts to go and integrate it! We should not be whitewashing our past.”
Topic: Police Brutality
“Police Brutality is still a big issue. We have got to change bias in our government system.” Raskin also told a story to the students about a painting that was placed in the house. The painting was of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri, with a police officer holding a gun to Brown’s head. The painting was created by a high school student who had won an art competition. Her painting was hung on the same wall for 12 years.
When the newly elected representatives came into the building, they took the artwork down, but Raskin would not stand for this. Raskin eventually hung the artwork back up. The representatives took it down again, this happening over the course of five different times. They believed the artwork gave the wrong impression of police officers. Eventually Raskin and another representative decided to write a letter to the speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, stating the situation and how the painting was never an issue for the past 12 years. Raskin told the students that Ryan responded saying the painting was “disgusting,” and “It should be taken down.”
“The majority of my job is helping people with problems they are having. My job is a seven day, every week job, I work straight through the weekend. We are actually at a time of recess right now, but I prefer to come out and meet with students.”
Topic: Partisan Divide With The Hate Between Democratic and Republican Parties
“I will never be able to solve the arguing between the two opposing parties, but politics should not be about hate, but education. I don’t think we need hatred in our politics, but constitutional patriotism.”
Topic: Industrial Revolution
“I honestly think we need a new Industrial Revolution, but a green one.”
Overall, Raskin is a spunky, open-minded individual, who wants to hear others when they speak, and others to hear him speak. “People have a right to speak, even if I disagree with it. Freedom of speech is like an apple; everyone takes a bite out of it, and then there’s nothing left of it.” Raskin also has some advice for students, “Never stop reading or writing.” He even shared one of his favorite quotes, said by Thomas Jefferson, “If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all.” Raskin is striving for the best Democratic party to be the best they can be, and he believes in having the Republican party be the best they can be.
Junior Will Anderson thought Raskin’s presentation was very informative. “It was a really great experience to interact with a representative,” commented Anderson.
Raskin’s District Director, Kathleen Connor, commented “I love my job, I get to help people everyday.”