Kamala Harris photo

Remarks by the Vice President at a Democratic National Committee Finance Event in Durham, North Carolina

September 01, 2022

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I was just -- and please have a seat. I was just saying to Diane, she really is so spectacular and wonderful. And you always make it look easy, Diane. But everything that you accomplish is always at the highest level and with an incredibly deep commitment to what is good and, in particular, what is good for our country. And so, I thank you for that, Diane, and that beautiful introduction. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you.

And, Mark and Marica, thank you for hosting us in this beautiful place, but for your longstanding work to support all the issues that you have each talked about, in terms of the fundamental issues that really are part of the essence and spirit and the founding principles of our nation because, truly, that is what this fight is about.

You know, I often talk about democracy in a similar context. But the context being this: There's a certain duality, actually, I think, that's at play when we think about our democracy. And by that, I mean, when we are true to our founding principles, when we are truly a strong democracy, it empowers the people.

There is strength in a democracy that is intact -- great strength, in terms of what it does to lift people up, what it does to allow for consistency to perpetuate the principles we care about, in terms of freedom and liberty and equality and justice. All of these things happen when a democracy is intact -- incredible strength, and it's very fragile.

In order for our democracy to do what it is designed and intended to do, we must always be vigilant, understanding we cannot take it for granted. Its strength is literally a function of our ability and preparedness to fight for it and be vigilant in doing that.

So that's what's at stake, and that's what we're doing here this afternoon: showing that we each, in a variety of ways, are prepared to do the hard work of fighting for and standing for this nation we love that has given us each so much opportunity and that right now has so much at stake.

Jaime, I want to thank you -- Jaime Harrison -- for your work -- (applause) -- in your role of leadership of the DNC. It is in that context that we have come together, understanding the role and the responsibility of the DNC to support our democracy, understanding that part of that requires electing folks who will stand for it and -- because we know elections do absolutely matter when it comes to our ability to defend those principles we hold so dear. So thank you, Jaime, for that.

Sixty-eight days until the election. (Laughter.) Sixty-eight days. And we can't recapture those days. And each one of these days, therefore, matters. So much at stake. And so, I'd like us to reflect for a moment on the empirical evidence that tells us elections matter and to do so by just reflecting on what each of you did in 2020.

In 2020, people stood in line here in North Carolina and so many other places, some for hours. People did the work of organizing and supporting because -- I essentially think of it as that people -- the people of our country put in an order about what they wanted from their leaders. They put in an order, and they sacrificed time and energy to make it so.

And so, because of all of that hard work, the outcome was the election in 2020 was a lot of good stuff. (Applause.) Okay, I'm done; I'm leaving now. (Laughs.) Think about it.

People waited in those lines, you all did the work that you did because we said, "We want an extension of the Child Tax Credit." Because we knew, because of that work then, that when we came in office in our first year, through an extension of the Child Tax Credit, we would reduce child poverty in America by 40 percent.

People said, "I want to know that there will be a tax cut not just for the top 1 percent, but for families who need a little help with the expense of raising a child." And because of what you did in 2020, we passed an 8- -- up to $8,000 tax cut for parents or those who are parenting children for the expenses of food, medicine, school supplies.

Because of what happened in 2020, folks said, "We want to know that we are going to fix some roads and bridges around this place." And we passed the first meaningful infrastructure law that had happened in generations. In fact, I have some -- some stats that tell me that there are going to be repairs on I-40. (Laughter.) And that we're also looking at repairs between Austin Avenue and the Durham Freeway. (Applause.) You're welcome.

Because you put the work in in 2020, people said, "Take this climate crisis seriously." It's been long enough that we have delayed and that others have denied. This thing is pounding at the door. From what we are seeing in my home state of California with wildfires, to what we are seeing in the state and region of the world when we talk about wetter hurricanes and floods. So we passed a law that now gives us historic numbers -- $370 billion -- to invest in clean energy and to help us fulfill our commitment to transitioning to a clean energy economy. (Applause.)

Because of what happened in 2020, because of what we did -- we said, "Let's get people back to work." Let's not forget, we were at the height of the pandemic. Millions of people had lost their jobs. We have now recovered all of those 10 million jobs in just a year and a half -- the lowest unemployment rates in half a century.

Because of what you did to say, "We want leaders who will take these issues seriously and tackle problems and find solutions." People put in their order and said, "You know, it's about time there's a Black woman serving on the United States Supreme Court." And Joe Biden said, in the neighboring state of South Carolina actually, that's what he was going to do, and that's what happened. Elections matter.

And these are just some of the advances that we have made in a short year and a half, in terms of what we must do as a nation to uphold our principles of democracy and all that matters when it is intact.

I have, as Vice President, traveled the world. I have had direct conversations -- my team tells me at least 100 -- in person or by phone with presidents, prime ministers, kings, chancellors. Every time we have those conversations, the beginning of that conversation -- be it when I was at the Munich Security Conference or early on having Angela Merkel, who was then Chancellor of Germany, over for breakfast -- and one of the first things they say is "thank you," because we have a President and an administration that promised -- because this is what the American people wanted -- that when we got in there, we would restore relationships and our commitment to our word and the principles, again, upon which we were founded, to the point that, today -- elections matter -- two new countries are joining NATO. (Applause.)

Elections matter. And there's so much at stake.

So, when I look at where we are, we know that there are problems that we must fix, but it is also about understanding that we must invest in the future of our nation and our world and hold on to our role as a country in providing leadership around some of the biggest issues that impact our country and, by extension, the world. And all of these things remain at stake.

It means what we are doing in terms of, yes, an investment in climate resilience and investing in a clean economy. But it also means preserving and continuing to fight for foundational principles around freedom and liberty, especially when, most recently, we have seen attacks on the right to privacy with the Dobbs decision, where a United States Supreme Court took a constitutional right that had been recognized from the people of America, from the women of America; when we look at states around our nation that are viciously attacking voting rights, LGBTQ rights.

This is a time to invest in our nation and the future of our nation, both to hold on to and protect rights but also to understand what's at stake as we move forward.

Because I'll tell you, when I have these conversations with other world leaders, they're watching. And they're actually asking us, "What's going on in your country?"

Because, you see, when we have these conversations, often depending on who I'm talking with, we're talking about the importance of rule of law, the importance of human rights, the importance of democratic systems.

And the thing about it is that we, as America -- we have held ourselves out as a role model, as a strong democracy, as an example of what a democracy does. But as a role model -- we all know, who are role models -- people watch what you do to see if it matches up to what you say. And in that way, best believe they're watching what is happening, to wonder if this is who we really are.

So, there is so much at stake. And in this election that is happening in 68 days, I will stress that here in North Carolina, you got a Senate race coming up. Okay, so the task at hand for the next 68 days includes, for us, the need to have an outcome that allows Joe Biden to sign into law the John Lewis Voting Rights Act -- (applause) -- to sign into law the Women's Health Act. (Applause.)

Well, most of you have been supporting Joe for a long time. And you know, then, that he respects, in a very important way, the traditions of the nobility of the Senate.

Joe Biden has had enough -- (laughter) -- and has said and means it: On the issue of those two pieces of legislation, he will not let the filibuster get in the way. Right? (Applause.)

So what that means is we need to hold on to the Senate seats that we've got, and we need two more. One of them is right here -- (applause) -- which can make all the difference on whether we restore the integrity of the Voting Rights Act and codify the protections from Roe v. Wade. So much at stake.

We're looking at the House races, and we want to make sure -- because we're at a five-point difference. We cannot lose five seats. That's how close it is. These House races matter.

Governors races matter. I've been traveling the country meeting with state legislatures, including right here in North Carolina. And by the way, you've got a great governor in Roy Cooper. (Applause.) And when we look at the power of a governor to either veto bad stuff or a willingness to sign bad stuff -- (laughs) -- or a willingness to do good things, governors races have a direct impact on what happens to the people of the state.

Secretaries of state. Do you know there are 11 candidates for secretary of state right now in 11 states that are deniers of the 2020 election? Secretaries of state-run elections. Elections matter.

So, what the DNC does and what you all are doing to support it is to focus on these races and do what we need to do around organizing; around lifting up candidates, giving them voice; and most importantly, giving the people voice to remind them of what's at stake and then let them choose based on what is in their best interest.

And I'll close my comments with this: The majority of Americans are with Democrats on some of these most fundamental issues. (Applause.) You saw what happened in Kansas, a congressional race in New York, and just last night in Alaska. (Applause.)

So we just have to do our part to remind people of what's at stake and, most importantly, to remind people that they matter. Elections matter because they matter. And that's the work that we are doing is to empower people, especially after these two years of a pandemic where we told people, literally, to isolate, and people felt alone.

We have the difficult and glorious work of reminding people they are not alone and that they matter and that there's so much at stake for them. But they have the power, and we have empirical evidence of it. They have the power to determine the outcome.

So, that's what we're doing. And I can't thank you all enough. Thank you.

Kamala Harris, Remarks by the Vice President at a Democratic National Committee Finance Event in Durham, North Carolina Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/357610

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