US Democrat Jamie Raskin on the life and legacy of his son

4 March 2021
US House of Representative Democrat Jamie Raskin speaks during the 2020 American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Legislative Conference in Washington DC. Image: Keith Mellnick/AFGE/Wikimedia Commons


By the age of 25, Thomas Bloom Raskin had already accomplished a great deal: He was a graduate of Amherst College who went on to intern at the Cato Institute and J Street, among other prominent organisations; a passionate vegan who wrote philosophical defences of animal rights and converted those around him to giving up meat; a political writer who had essays published in The Nation and elsewhere; and a law student and teaching assistant at Harvard Law School who donated from his teaching salary to charities in his students’ names.

Tommy, as his father Jamie Raskin calls him, was also tormented by depression. Tommy Raskin took his own life on Dec. 31.

Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Takoma Park, represents Maryland’s 8th Congressional District in Congress.

Jamie Raskin received a standing ovation when he spoke during debate over the Republican effort to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral win. He says he was heartened by words of support from fellow lawmakers of both parties on the same day, Jan. 6, he had to evacuate the chamber because of a violent mob takeover.

“That has been a solace and a comfort to me, that at this time of the ugliest possible division, where we’ve got a violent, seditious mob invading the Capitol, that there is still enough decency and humanity that we can share each other’s pain in this situation,” Raskin tells Weekend Edition.

Going forward, Raskin says, his family “will keep Tommy very close to our heart. And we will fight for every single thing he asked us to.” He says Tommy knew that “the things that we say are our values and principles … only have meaning if we act as if they’re true, if we make them real. And so we can’t let them be empty rhetoric.”

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Samantha Balaban and Kitty Eisele produced and edited the audio interview.

With thanks to NPR, Samantha Balaban and Kitty Eisele, where this article originally appeared.


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