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

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Okay, what are your questions? What happens? How do you think about life?

STUDENT: Really nervous right now. (Laugh.)

VICE PRESIDENT: What’s your name?

STUDENT: Noah. Nice to meet you.

VICE PRESIDENT: Hi, Noah. (Inaudible.) Well, listen, I — you know, I’ve traveled all over the country, and a lot of the work that I’ve done recently, now that all of the COVID restrictions have been lifted, has been to meet with Students. You guys are where it’s at. I tell you, you are where it is.

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. Okay?

When you look at what’s going on in our country right now, there’s so much that’s so fundamental to whether we’re going to stand up for our democracy, for the principles that we were founded on, that were about freedom and liberty.

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

And, you know, when people feel alone, it can be very debilitating. And the strength of our nation has always been: out of many, one. that we believe we have much more in common than what separates us.

And part of your leadership that I ask of you is to remind people about communities and about the whole and about the fact that we’re all in this together. It is so important.

And one of the other things I’m going to ask you to lead on is to remind everyone you know, including those who are active in the sense that they’ve already gone through school, about the importance of the climate crisis.

You will pay the price for what we do, or what we haven’t done 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’re seeing extreme weather in my home state of California — wildfires. My brother-in-law is a fireman.

Let me tell you – right? — what happens to people, evacuating whole communities because of these fires. We were talking about the “fire season”. Now is all the time.

You look at hurricanes and floods.

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

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

The job we have to do is work with our partners around the world, because — hey, I’m the head of 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 group, because I was out in Houston at the Johnson Space Center, and then I actually went to the Artemis launch in Florida. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as planned. we delayed it.

But I ask the astronauts when I talk to them — some of them (inaudible) in space — and I say, “Tell me what changed your perspective on this fact of being in space.” And almost in one, they say to me, “You’re in space and you look at the Earth and you realize how thin it is and how fragile it is.” Correctly?

So, on this issue of the climate crisis, in addition to any other issue that you can face and think about in the context of the work of your government, the work of each of us — right? — As members of a democracy, how do you think about what we should do in a way that takes some of these issues into account and gets rid of unnecessary conflict and, you know, partisanship, and is really about saying, “Hey, let’s come together on this , because we are all together”. It doesn’t matter who you voted for last time or who you will 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 stop by to say that I’m really proud of you for just starting your first year, except for one person — (laughter) — and just keep going. It’s an exciting time. You guys meet and sit next to each other you end up being lifelong friends I tell you.

My freshman year, I met people that I ended up – you know, we ended up being – I would be godfather to their kids. Correctly? People you will know your whole life.

So enjoy this experience. And your big brain is like a sponge right now. So just absorb it all. Ask all the questions. And just drive. Just drive — because we need you guys. Okay? Okay. Thank you all. (Applause.)

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