All Politics Is Local

Congressman Jamie Raskin visited Bullis School in Potomac to have an informal roundtable discussion during one of the first weeks of school. It was a beautiful day back in September. “All politics is local” was the theme of their discussion. A teachable moment, Jamie was happy to engage with the students and answer their mindful questions.

Jamie represents Maryland’s 8th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. The district includes parts of Montgomery, Carroll and Frederick counties. Jamie was sworn into the 115th Congress on Jan. 3, 2017.

How do you ensure that the problems focused on within a community are equal for all groups of people?

I make sure that my staff is diverse, that we are in constant touch with the community, that we are always accessible and available, and that I am always interacting with our community. I belong to lots of caucuses in Congress, which keep us focused on inclusion and participation for all. We are constantly looking for the best and most diverse sources of information. 

What’s the best way for a high schooler to get started in government and pursue a life of public service?

Work with your friends and classmates to address the problems at school and in your community. Read newspapers and magazines. Write a blog. Study the lives of great political leaders like Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt. Come intern for me or one of our other representatives in Washington, Annapolis or Rockville. Join our Democracy Summer project. You can also read the book I wrote for high school students called We the Students. That was back when I used to write books; now I write Tweets. 

What made you want to become a public servant?   

My grandfather was a state legislator, and I saw how he helped people every day and worked with the community. That moved me a lot. I have been a constitutional law professor for more than 25 years, and I love teaching and writing. I decided it was time for me to run in 2006. One of the pundits said my chances of victory were “impossible,” and then nine months later after we won with 67 percent of the vote, another pundit said our victory was “inevitable.” So we went from impossible to inevitable in nine months! I like to tell young people that nothing in politics is impossible, and nothing is inevitable. It is all just possible with the democratic arts of education, organizing and mobilizing people for change. That’s a large part of the excitement of politics—getting to move people’s hearts and minds and allowing them to move yours, too.

“I like to tell young people that nothing in politics is impossible, and nothing is inevitable.” – Congressman Jamie Raskin