tv Interview with Representative-elect Jamie Raskin D-MD CSPAN December 18, 2016 7:50pm-8:01pm EST
why did you decide to run? rep.-elect raskin: i have been a state senator in maryland for a decade. i led the fight for marriage equality in our state, abolished the death penalty, to restore voting rights to former prisoners, ban military style assault weapons, high-capacity magazines to reduce the bloodshed on our streets. but, the truth is, we cannot solve any of these problems at the state level. we need to be fighting in congress. the level of dysfunction in congress has gotten to a point where i said, i have to go and see if i can help dislodge the impasse and paralysis that has overtaken congress. i had some success in maryland working in a bipartisan way for real progress in our state. and the general assembly had passed more than 100 of the bills that i introduced, and more than 90% of them had republican support. it was on a bipartisan basis. we need a universal background
check for gun buyers. that is something supported by the overwhelming majority of gun owners in the country. it is not a second amendment problem. as a professor of constitutional law, i am happy to talk about the second amendment with colleagues on the other side of the aisle. we can advance common sense, middle way gun safety legislation without impairing anybody's second amendment rights to possess a gun for self-defense purposes or for hunting and recreation. that is one example of an issue where i really would hope to play a role in pushing things forward and getting beyond the stalemate that has seized congress for so long. reporter: why do you think, with that background of the state level, state politics, how is it going to make this job easier? what experience do you think will help you with serving in the house of representatives? rep.-elect raskin: i have only been in my freshman training for a couple of weeks now, but i am starting to think that the real
divide is not between democrats and republicans. it is between people who run with lots and lots of money, never having served in office before and those who have served , in state legislators or city councils. at the state and local level, we experience the real opportunities of democracy, and we learn the art of civility and treating people well and even creating friendships across the aisle in order to build the foundation for making progress on the problems that affect the -- afflict the country. we have so many. the infrastructure is a great example of something that affects everybody whether you live in the countryside and the roads are falling apart or you live in the washington metropolitan region where the metro system is a huge crisis. i used to rided, the metro when i was a kid to look around and it opened new worlds for me and today, it cannot get me to capitol hill on time. i was late for my first set of meetings coming down because the red line is on the safetrak program.
we need to invest in american infrastructure, and we can have a real conversation about that across geographic lines, party lines. it is something that can unify the country. after a really brutal and bruising election, it is something we can make progress on. reporter: where did you grow up, and what influence did your parents have on who you are? rep.-raskin: i grew up right here. i think i will be the member of congress, certainly the freshman living closest to congress. i live 20 minutes away in takoma park, maryland. i have lived my whole life in maryland or washington, d.c. i know this area well. i have offered to give tours to my new colleagues or advise them on schools or where to go in rock creek park and so on. my parents have been a profound influence in my life. my dad worked for president kennedy. he is a political philosopher. he were to book called "liberalism: the genius of american ideals." he has been a great progressive thinker and influence on me.
my dad always said when i was a kid, everyone has two impulses in life. one is to fly like a bird and another is to stand like a tree. i always thought of myself as a tree person, so i never really moved away from home. i have traveled abroad. i have lived in france in different parts of africa and europe, but really, this is the place that i love. i am very moved that the voters of the eighth congressional district, which is not just montgomery county but also frederick and caroll sent me , here as their representative. it is a great title to have to be able to represent people's needs, interests, and values. my mom was a great writer, a novelist, a journalist. i have a lot of respect for your profession and what the media people do. i guess it was jefferson that said, "if you would ask me to choose between having a government without a newspaper or a newspaper without a government, i would not hesitate to choose the latter." that is the way i feel. it is media to keep people
engaged with citizens and lets people know what is going on. people have to know what is going on in government. that is an important role of a representative, to be a channel of information for people back home. reporter: what did your father do for president kennedy? rep.-elect raskin: he was on the national security council. he left in early opposition to the vietnam war. he created a think tank called the institute for policy studies. he has been a think tank person and a professor at george washington university. he is now retired. reporter: did president kennedy have an impact on you? rep.-elect raskin: i got from my dad all kinds of great jfk memorabilia. i love the kennedy family and the role they have played in american life. and i always thought that bobby kennedy embodied both the toughness that we need to have in order to make progress but also the gentleness that we need to have in order to understand what the real needs of society are. i have always looked up to bobby
kennedy. and i know his daughter, kathleen kennedy townsend, who was in politics in maryland, and some of his other kids. reporter: any mentors in this area that you have worked with or anyone you are looking forward to working with on the capitol? rep.-elect raskin: the maryland delegation is a very strong, tightknit delegation that punches way above its weight in congress. you know we are a relatively , small state. we only have eight members in the house, but of course nancy pelosi, the democratic leader, was born in baltimore, and her father was the mayor of baltimore. the number two democrat, steny hoyer, who was born and bred and bleeds maryland, and he has been a terrific help to me. i love the people i am serving with. john sarbanes is one of my friends, anthony brown, who is a lieutenant governor is coming with me, a great friend of mine.
john delaney has the neighboring district. i know all of these people, and we work strongly together as a cohesive team to bring back the best results for our people and the best programs and services that will uplift the people of maryland. reporter: what will be the biggest difference for you coming from the state house assembly to the house of representatives? rep.-elect raskin: the maryland senate is a small and intimate body. it is 47 members -- 33 democrats. and a lot of the action takes place on the floor of the senate. i mean, i had many amendments that were offered that were incorporated into legislation and you can see legislation change there. what i am learning firsthand in my tour through the house is the political science rule that the larger the body, the more hierarchical it is. by the time legislation comes to the floor, there is not that much maneuverability. congress is really in the
committees. the committees are where all of the action is. you have to be a very diligent and zealous committee member. because i am a professor of constitutional law and i have a nerdy disposition about rules and parliamentary procedure, i will like that a lot. reporter: what committees would you like to serve on? rep.-elect raskin: we just got a speech from nancy pelosi about not having our heart set on a particular committee because it is a large body. having said that, i have been on maryland's legislative committee. i have been a law professor for more than a quarter of a century. i think the judiciary committee is a logical place for me to go. there are other committees appealing to me. one is the committee on oversight and government reform. another great maryland representative chairs. i'm hoping to get on that because an overseas the whole federal government. i have more than 85,000 constituents that work in the federal government in every place from agriculture, to the pentagon, to commerce, to the
treasury department, where my wife works, actually. i want to be a zealous champion for the hard-working people who are doing the work of the public interest by going to work every day and advancing the agenda of the american people. reporter: representative elect raskin, thank you so much for talking to c-span. rep.-elect raskin: the pleasure was all mine. thank you much. join us on tuesday, january 3 for live coverage of the opening day of the new congress. watch the official swearing-in of the new and reelected members of the house and senate and the election of the speaker of the house. live coverage begins at and a.m. eastern on c-span c-span.org, or you can listen to it on the free c-span radio app . announcer: now, "q&a" with historian robert strauss on the life of precedent buchanan. then theresa may takes questions
from the house of commons. after that, new york senator charles schumer calls for a special committee investigating foreign hacking. holding the end of the year news conference. ♪ announcer: this week on "q&a," journalist robert strauss. he talked about his book, "worst. president. ever.: james buchanan, the potus rating game, and the legacy of the least of the lesser presidents." robert strauss, author of "worst. president. ever." i will ask you about that in a moment. i want to read your dedication. who may ber, samuel