With Gratitude for Marc, Jamie, and Tommy Raskin

W.If students of American history 100 years from now ask how the United States found its way back from the violence, destruction and mob death that Donald Trump unleashed in this country, they will remember the prose and poetry with Representative Jamie Raskin condemns the former president who instigated the uprising against democracy. “So wrote nation John Nichols, national affairs correspondent, just hours after Raskin showed his remarkable power as head of the House impeachment manager team for Trump’s second impeachment trial.

Raskin, a law professor elected to the House of Representatives after a long career in the Maryland Senate, academia, and activism, opened the trial with an intellectually flamboyant argument as to why the trial was constitutionally legitimate and morally necessary.

We consider Jamie, who has made a valued legal and judicial contribution for over 40 years, a member of The nation Family. On our pages and below nation Events, he was sensible, passionate, persuasive and eloquent. And his grace has always moved us, never more than when he suffered an unimaginable personal tragedy – on the last day of 2020 when Jamie lost his 25 year old son Tommyto depression and suicide.

Jamie has long taught on the fragility of democracy, the backbone of the Constitution, the betrayal of a demagogue, and the need for justice. In the process, he and his colleagues left an indelible mark on Trump and, unfortunately, exposed the utter desire of the Republican senators. He asked them to stand up for the republic, for the constitution, that they take an oath to defend for their own families, for their own sense of honor. They refused and could no doubt be mistaken when they looked in the mirror. But thanks to Jamie and his team, citizens now know the threat of Trump’s riot and the cowardice of the senators. The House’s impeachment managers did an invaluable service to the country.

Jamie also loved scorching constitutional research, peppered with quotes from Tom Paine, Lincoln, Voltaire, and many other great minds, including that of his beloved father Marc Raskin: “Democracy needs a foundation to stand on, and that foundation is the truth. “Like his father, he is a great teacher.

Marc Raskin

IIt was Marc Raskin who introduced his son Jamie The nation.

The oldest for more than 60 years RaskinThe philosopher, teacher, author, activist, and citizen gave penetrating, informed, and independent insights into the state of our republic. In a city full of nerds who wanted to trumpet conventional wisdom, Raskin saw through the power and the lies and myths that support it, and urged us to change our course and rebuild our democracy.

Marc was a child prodigy both at the piano and in public order.

In the twenties he joined President John F. Kennedy’s national security staff under McGeorge Bundy. From the outset, Marc challenged the firmly anchored assumptions of the Cold War foreign policy consensus.

He was most appalled by the madness of the nuclear arms race. He watched the Kennedy administration launch a massive build based on an invented “missile gap”. He was an early and profound critic of the weird logic of mutually assured destruction. He saw mandarins and generals, supported by a vast military-industrial complex, promoting the conventional wisdom of an imperial America that could oversee the world.

With courage and imagination, Raskin decided not only to criticize, but also to act. In 1963, he co-founded the Institute for Political Studies (IPS) with Richard Barnet, a brilliant State Department analyst, with what he termed “extraordinary imagination” the power to tell the truth.

IPS was the first truly independent “think tank”. It didn’t need government money. His colleagues – largely from what Raskin called the “civilizing” movements of the time – were encouraged to think beyond the limits of conventional wisdom, even as they continued to delve into progressives in Congress and the administration.

Marc was a disruptive genius. He warned of the development of the national security state – the complex of war institutions, kept secret and based on the allegations of the executive branch – which profoundly contradicts and profoundly contradicts our constitution and our republic. He criticized the stifling consensus anchored by “Cold War and Corporate Assumptions” that led to increasing inequality at home as the United States was committed to endless wars and repeated imperial folly abroad. Raskin advocated the movements – civil rights, antiwar, women’s, environmental, and consumer movements – that were making America better, suggesting that the insurgents were developing a new public philosophy based on “an existential pragmatism based on experience and experimentation is based “.

He constantly sought to build a progressive political force – a movement, a party, a progressive congressional caucus – that would campaign for an agenda for economic justice and peace.

He wasn’t just a theorist; He was also an organizer. He firmly believed in what he called “passionate science” to break the barriers between thinkers and doers. “Taking personal risk is the way to maintain relevance to one’s intellectual work,” he wrote. An early critic of the Vietnam War, Raskin co-produced with Fall The Vietnam readerwhich became the basic text for the teach-in movement. As the war escalated, he co-wrote “A Call to Resist Illegitimate Authority” calling for opposition to the draft. For this he was indicted, tried and acquitted as part of the Boston Five.

Marc’s article as a longtime member of the editorial board of The nation– on subjects ranging from the nuclear arms race to the neoconservative attack on freedom of speech by Jean-Paul Sartre and John Rawls – indicated the breadth of his interests and the breadth of his intellect.

With Gratitude for Marc, Jamie, and Tommy Raskin 1

Representative Jamie Raskin reads a copy of The Federalist Papers on President Trump’s impeachment investigation during the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Monday, December 9, 2019. (Getty Images / Caroline Brehman, CQ appeal)

W.Ashington is a city that stifles independent thinking, less through oppression than through seduction.

That was what made Jamie’s father, Marcus Raskin, so rare and invaluable. At a very young age, he rejected the trappings of high office in order to create a space that could tell the truth to that power. His influence on ideas and on the legions of young people he cared for was profound.

One young person Marc looked after was his grandson Tommy. Marc was imbued with Tommy’s intellectual curiosity, a willingness to hear new ideas, and a rare level of empathy and compassion. Tommy’s intellectual rigor was unshakable. As IPS Director John Cavanagh recalls, Tommy, who practiced at IPS when he was 15, would not accept conventional ideas – even progressive ideas – without questioning. At an IPS roundtable, Tommy discussed the war in Afghanistan with foreign policy thinker Phyllis Bennis with the same eloquence and confidence as his grandfather and father.

Tommy didn’t take anything for granted – except understanding that he had to learn everything he could.

In their time of grief and sorrow, Jamie and Sarah Bloom have Raskin published a statement “About the remarkable life of Tommy Raskin.” They described “a strikingly handsome, curly, crazy boy who beamed with laughter and charm, wreaking havoc, kicking football, playing scenes from To Kill a Mockingbird with his little sister in his father’s constitutional law class, and teaching other children the names of all Supreme Court judges who teach our dogs foreign languages, play the jazz piano like a great blues off Bourbon Street, and when he was 12, wrote a lengthy letter to his mother explaining why he shouldn’t do a bar mitzvah and citing on the freedom interests of the due process (appeal rejected). “Tommy, his parents added, grew into an” anti-war activist, an evil self-taught moral philosopher and a progressive humanistic libertarian. ”

In 2015 The nation published a special edition for the 150th anniversary. We have asked several young people in our orbit to look forward to what a radical future holds for them. Tommy Raskin, then sophomore at Amherst College and a StudentNation staffer, wrote of how “decent Americans across the political spectrum have long believed that a meaningful” moral order “requires accountability for bullies who torture and torture the innocent kill. [yet] The American government has spent more than a century protecting human rights abusers around the world. Tommy continued, “In the radical future, we must use the political mechanisms at our disposal to stop government sponsored torture and murder and hold power brokers accountable for their complicity in unpaid violence.”

Marc, Jamie, Tommy are forever a part of The nation Family. May their spirit, compassion, and commitment to our beloved republic, the true power and beauty of America, enliven us in the dizzying but hopeful days. How Bill McKibben wrote a lyric homage to Jamieand a new generation of Raskins:

Raskin’s case was made for history – a case against Trump and the next Trump and the Trump after that if we are fortunate enough to persist as a country to see these challenges. And if we’re so lucky, it will be because new generations of Raskins will continue to be in power, in keeping with the progressive tradition that dates back to our founding. American history is full of ugliness, but there is beauty at its core, and that was what shed light on this week.


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