Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland has had a busy first term, including drafting the former president’s articles of impeachment on the charge incitement of insurrection and serving on the panel investigating that insurrection. Last week, the Democrat visited the Vineyard for a little relaxation and a bit of fundraising and sat down with the Gazette to discuss his politics, his national policy goals, and his memoir Unthinkable, a New York Times bestseller released earlier this year.

Mr. Raskin defines democracy as a kind of “constitutional patriotism” that aims to uphold the democratic system established by the framers. This is unsurprising, perhaps, because Mr. Raskin spent decades as a professor of constitutional law at American University before turning to politics full-time.

Mr. Raskin said he has always known that “democracy is not a stationary edifice.”

“My irreducible bedrock faith is in democracy and strong democracy itself. And that, of course, is the opposite of right-wing politics,” he said.

In the Maryland State Senate, where he served for almost nine years, he had helped pass marriage equality, a medical marijuana program, and the nation’s first benefit corporation law, which requires participating businesses to consider public good in addition to profit. Mr. Raskin’s introduction to national politics began with a leap into ice-cold waters. In November of 2016, Mr. Raskin was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. On the same night, Donald Trump was elected president, and Republicans swept through Congress.

“I went from being a pretty serious legislator to a pretty serious demonstrator,” Mr. Raskin said.

For years, Mr. Raskin said he had already been a crusader in the name of democracy with a lower-case ‘d’. In spring 2017, he began his opposition to what he called the Trump administration’s “immediate attempts to start crushing the Constitution and our democratic infrastructure.”

But he said that the past few years have proven to be one of the most strident challenges to American democracy yet.

“Democracy in America is either shrinking or it’s expanding. And we’ve been in a real contractionary mode with all the voter suppression, the gerrymandering, the filibuster, right-wing judicial activism, manipulation at the electoral college,” Mr. Raskin said. “What we’re suffering from today is the impediments and obstacles to democracy. And so we have to remove those.”

The challenge to democracy came crashing home when Mr. Raskin was present in the Capitol for the January 6 riot. Due to his legal acumen, he was called upon by his colleagues to draft the articles of impeachment—despite the fact that just days earlier, he had lost his son Tommy to suicide.

“There was a period of just 45 days where my entire world was turned upside down. And I wasn’t sleeping or eating, really, and I would just get home from the Hill afterwards, replaying all of these events,” Mr. Raskin said.

In the months that followed the riot and the impeachment, Mr. Raskin turned toward writing. Before entering politics, Mr. Raskin had written a number of books on progressive politics and constitutional law. Unthinkable, which details those hellish 45 days at the end of 2020 and start of 2021, was his first memoir.

“I wrote the book as a love letter to Tommy. And then it became a love letter to my country, too, I suppose,” Mr. Raskin said. “It was a form of therapy for me to try to record everything that had happened and attempt to understand it all.”

Mr. Raskin said that this year he has been able to use campaign fundraising proceeds to run Democracy Summer, a youth summer program for high school and college students.

Mr. Raskin said that participants in the program learn about “the history of social and political struggle and change in the country.” But they also learn “the tools of electoral success”—voter registration, canvassing and digital organizing, according to Mr. Raskin.

“In politics, nothing’s impossible, and nothing’s inevitable. It’s just possible through the democratic arts of education, organizing and mobilizing people for change,” Mr. Raskin said.