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The Dartmouth
April 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Rockefeller Center hosts Rep. Jamie Raskin for Roger S. Aaron ’64 lecture

Raskin spoke about his time in Congress during the Jan. 6 riots and Trump’s impeachment, the 2024 presidential election and the future of American democracy.


On Jan. 8, the Rockefeller Center for Public Policy hosted Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., for a speech entitled “Democracy vs. Autocracy in 2024” and a Q&A session with the audience, moderated by Rockefeller Center associate director and senior policy fellow Herschel Nachlis. According to Charlotte Albright in a statement published on the Rockefeller Center website, approximately 250 attendees watched the event in-person, while an additional 19,500 viewers watched a recording of the event by noon the next day.

Raskin, who was lead manager for the second impeachment of Donald Trump, and who currently serves as the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, spoke primarily about varied threats to democratic governance. In particular, Raskin repeatedly referred to “plutocrats, theocrats, autocrats and kleptocrats,” who he described as “the worst manifestations of authoritarianism from the past.” Raskin said that the Democrats, who he described as “the party of democracy,” could save the country from those threats.

Raskin began his speech by referencing philosopher Thomas Paine and former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. Specifically, he quoted Paine’s description of a “depth of winter when only hope and virtue could survive,” which he used to describe the modern-day political climate in America. Raskin highlighted a quote from former president Donald Trump, in which Trump suggested that he would become a dictator on day one of a second presidential term.

“This is one of the defining characteristics of a fascist or authoritarian political party,” Raskin said. “The political scientists tell us [that] a fascist party has a cult of authoritarian personality, and [that] the will of the leader is elevated above the rule of law and above the Constitution.”

Albert Niu ’27, who attended the event, noted that Raskin’s speech was “highly effective in delivering his message” and cited Raskin’s allusion to “Lincoln’s transfer of power pre-Civil war” as being a particularly memorable moment.

“Even then, back in the 1860s, there was a relatively peaceful transfer of power,” Niu said. “Obviously no one stormed the Capitol then, like the people who did in 2020.”

Raskin went on to describe the events of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, lauding police officers such as Officer Harry Dunn and Sergeant Aquilino Gonell who experienced serious abuse during their defense of the building. Raskin declared that Trump “incited an insurrection against the Constitution,” adding that “Joe Biden beat Donald Trump by 7 million votes.” Raskin noted that when Trump won the electoral college in the 2016 election by the same margin Biden did in 2020, Trump had referred to it as a “landslide” victory.

In an interview with The Dartmouth, Raskin assigned significant blame for continued skepticism regarding the 2020 election results to “propaganda disinformation.”

“If you tell people repeatedly that Donald Trump won the election, and you don’t mention that 60 federal and state courts rejected every allegation of electoral fraud and corruption, then people will be drenched in your propaganda,” Raskin said.

In both the interview and at the event, Raskin emphasized his belief that the 14th Amendment disqualifies Trump from running for office. Raskin told The Dartmouth that the Insurrection Clause of the 14th Amendment establishes a more “morally defensible exclusion” to running for president than requirements for age or place of birth, “because it’s based on your proven propensity to try to overthrow the government.”

Raskin also addressed foreign policy during his speech with a denunciation of Russia’s “filthy, bloody, imperialist invasion of Ukraine.” Raskin noted that Vladimir Putin “intervened” in the 2016 and 2020 U.S. elections and called Donald Trump a “hoax perpetrated on America by the Russians.” Raskin additionally condemned several other world leaders, including Viktor Orban of Hungary, Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, and Xi Jinping of China.

Patrick Quigley ’27, who attended the event, noted that Raskin’s speech was “consistent [with] his commitment to ensuring accountability around the political system.” Quigley said that Raskin was correct in highlighting the “human consequences” of the Jan. 6 riot.

Niu added that it was important for Dartmouth to continue to “bring in both people actively involved in the political process and scholars who study the political process.” He went on to note the importance of this election year. 

“It’s a lot of people’s first big election, so presenting them with a spectrum of perspectives and making them well-informed is obviously very important,” Niu said.