Vice President Harris’ Remarks to Political Science Students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Vice President: Okay, what are your questions? What is happening? How do you think about life?

STUDENT: Really nervous right now. (Laughter.)

Vice President: What’s your name?

STUDENT: Noah. Nice to meet you.

Vice President: Hello, Noah. (Inaudible.) Well, listen, I – you know, I’ve been traveling around the country and a lot of the work I’ve been doing lately, now that all the COVID restrictions have been lifted, has been to meet with the students. You guys are where it’s at. I’m telling you, you guys are where it’s at.

STUDENT: (Inaudible.)

The Vice President: Well, you’re very – you’re very kind, but here’s what I want you to know: I need your leadership, and we need you to lead. Good?

When you look at what’s going on in our country right now, there are so many things that are so fundamental in terms of whether we’re going to stand for our democracy, for the principles we were founded on, which is about freedom and liberty.

I don’t need to tell you guys – we’ve come out of almost two years of a pandemic where we’ve literally told people to isolate themselves and what that means in terms of people feeling lonely.

And, you know, when people feel alone, it can be very frustrating. And the strength of our nation has always been: out of many, one; that we think of ourselves as having much more in common than what separates us.

And part of your leadership that I’m asking of you is to remind people about communities and about everybody and the fact that we’re all in it. It is so important.

And one of the other issues that I’m going to just ask you to really run is to remind everyone you know, including those who are active in the sense that they’ve already passed school, about the importance of the climate crisis.

You guys will pay the price for what we do or what we don’t do for that matter.

I was just meeting with a group of people, talking about a conversation I had last night with the FEMA administrator – the head of FEMA – about what’s going on in Puerto Rico, how the island has been devastated by extreme weather.

And we are seeing extreme weather in my state of California – wildfires. My brother-in-law is a firefighter.

Let me tell you – right? — what is happening to people, evacuating entire communities because of these fires. We used to talk about “fire season”. Now it’s all year round.

You see hurricanes and floods.

And so what should we do – right? — should be about: Let’s save this planet, these precious resources that this planet has and that it gives us to sustain life.

And I’m going to rely on you guys to remind people of the fact that – let’s not accept fake elections, shall we? Investing in a clean energy economy is about creating jobs. It’s about making sure that we, too — that all of you and your children and grandchildren are able to breathe clean air and drink clean water.

The work we have to do is about working with our partners around the globe, because – hey, I chair the Space Council. Let me tell you something: I occasionally talk to astronauts who are in space when I talk to them. And the last set, because I was out in Houston at the Johnson Space Center, and then I went to the Artemis launch in Florida. Alas, it didn’t go as planned; we are late.

But I ask astronauts when I talk to them — some of them (inaudible) in space — and I say, “Tell me what has changed your perspective on this, being in space.” And almost in one, they tell me: “You are in space looking at the Earth and you understand how delicate it is and how fragile it is.” Right?

So on this issue of the climate crisis, in addition to any other issues that you guys might be dealing with and thinking about in the context of your government’s work, the work of each of us – right? — As members of a democracy, how do you think about what we need to do in a way that takes on some of these issues and avoids unnecessary conflict and, you know, partisanship, and it’s really about saying, ” Hey, let’s come together for this, because we’re all in this together.” It doesn’t matter who you voted for last time or who you vote for next time. If we don’t come together on this issue, we will all pay the price.

So anyway, I just wanted to come to tell you guys that I’m really proud of you for just starting your first year, except for one person – (laughter) – and just moving on. It’s an exciting time. You guys are meeting and sitting next to each other who will end up being lifelong friends, I’m telling you.

My freshman year, I met people that I ended up—you know, we ended up—I was going to be godfather to their kids. Right? People you will know for a lifetime.

So enjoy this experience. And your big brain is like a sponge now. So just soak it all in. Ask all the questions. And only lead. Just drive – because we need you guys. Good? OK. Thank you all. (Applause.)


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