By Adam Pagnucco.
We are living in historic times. After the sack of the U.S. Capitol, America approaches a day of reckoning with the only president to incite an insurrection against our democracy. At the center of this moment is Congressman Jamie Raskin, who has been named the lead impeachment manager in the trial of Donald Trump. It’s a huge moment. It’s Jamie’s moment, yes, but it’s also ours. All of the nation will be watching.
I have met a lot of politicians, many of them good ones, but there was always something special about Jamie. He first ran for office in 2006 against incumbent District 20 Senator Ida Ruben, who had been in office for more than 30 years and had gradually lost touch with many of her constituents. Jamie didn’t so much run a campaign as he established a grass-roots movement for progressive values and attentive representation. Ruben didn’t stand a chance.
MoCo is full of smart people. Most of them want you to know they’re smart sooooo badly. Jamie is as smart as anyone but he has no need to show off. He is charming, witty, quirky and sometimes even a little goofy. He is so full of eagerness when discussing something he cares about, like constitutional law. Who can make constitutional law interesting and cool? Jamie can because he gets so excited about it and he knows so much about it. He never talks down to you. He draws you in. He had that effect on people even outside his district, which is a big reason why he ascended to Congress.
Lots of people have a Jamie story. Here’s mine. About ten years ago, I had a potential legal problem that was keeping me up at night. It had a First Amendment dimension to it, and knowing Jamie is a national expert on that subject, I called him on the spur of the moment. I’m a District 18 resident so Jamie was not my State Senator. I didn’t know him well back then. Nevertheless, he invited me to his home at 10 at night, listened to me, educated me and supported me. Maybe it was no big deal for him but it was a huge deal for me. My problem turned out to be a non-issue but I never forgot how he helped me. I’m not the only one. I have heard countless stories of Jamie’s generosity and kindness over the years.
And now we come to the hard part. Perhaps the cruelest fate a human being can suffer is to lose a child. For parents, children are not just our favorite people – they are our contribution to the world. When they do well, we feel a sense of accomplishment because we feel that we are leaving something positive behind when we go. I have a son. If he were to pass away in my lifetime, I’m not sure I could find purpose and meaning in continuing to live. When that horrible tragedy happened to Jamie, what did he do? He went back to work. And for him, that meant leading a crusade to rid us of the most destructive political scourge in the last 160 years of U.S. history, the Emperor of Lies, Donald Trump. How much strength and sense of duty does that take? I am far from the only one who marveled at Jamie’s ability to rise from the depths of devastation to the heights of greatness.
Members of Congress from both parties applaud Jamie after he thanks them for their support during his family tragedy.
In a war against evil – and make no mistake, evil is what rampaged through the U.S. Capitol weeks ago – people of good will need heroes. For folks around the country, Jamie has joined a pantheon of great leaders seeking to restore America’s highest aspirations. But here in MoCo, Jamie is more than that. He is one of us, a favored son in our civic and political family. He’s ours. He is MoCo’s hero. And whatever happens in years to come, we are never going to forget this moment.