Kamala Harris

Iowa State Fair Political Soapbox - Aug. 10, 2019

Kamala Harris
August 10, 2019— Iowa State Fair, Des Moines, Iowa
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“I'm so excited to be here and thrilled and I just want to thank everyone here because this is one of the great American traditions and this is really about what we know about who we are and so I just want to thank you all. Good morning, good morning, it's great to be with you. So-so let's just get started, I've only got 20 minutes, I could go on for hours but I've got 20 minutes so here it is; I think we all know this is an inflection moment in the history of our country. This is a moment in time that is requiring us each as individuals and collectively to look in a mirror and ask a question. That question being: who are we? And I think we all know part of the answer to that question is; we are better than this. So this is a moment in time that is requiring us to fight for the best of who we are and fight we will and this is not a new fight for us. We as Americans have always been in the business of fighting for the best of who we are and fighting for our ideals. And I'll tell you I'm a daughter of fighters. My parents met when they were active in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. My sister and I, Maya, we’d joke we grew up surrounded by a bunch of adults who spent full time marching and shouting about this thing called justice. And in fact many of the heroes of that movement were the lawyers who understood how to translate the passion from the streets to the courtrooms of our country and remind folks of that promise we articulated in 1776 that we are all equal and should be treated that way which is what inspired me to want to become a lawyer. So we are fighters and we are born of fighters and I'll tell you, I was raised also by a mother, my sister Maya and I, our mother um she was all of five feet tall but if you ever met our mother you would have thought she was ten feet tall. And she was fierce you know she was the kind of parent who would say to us she'd say to me all the time, “Kamala. you may be the first to do many things make sure you're not the last.” She said, “don't you ever let anyone tell you who you are you tell them who you are.” She said, “your life should be judged based on service to others not self-interest.” And my mother, she was tough. If you ever came home in our house--if you ever came home complaining about something, our mother would look at you with a straight face, one hand probably on a hip and she'd say, “well what are you gonna do about it?” So I decided to run for president of the United States. There you go! So let's talk for a moment about the current occupant of the White House shall we? It's context, its context. So here's a guy who came into office on a slogan that was about make America great again, which of course for many of us said, “well again exactly for whom?” But also it was backward thinking right? And it caused us all to ask you know, back to what? Back before the Voting Rights Act? Back before the Civil Rights Act? Back before the Fair Housing Act? Back before federal minimum wage? Back before Roe v. Wade? Because we're not going back. We're not going back. And he came in office making all kinds of promises to folks and in particular working people. Everyone from farmers here in Iowa to Auto Workers. Came and making all kinds of promises about how he was gonna help out work in people and then what'd he do? He passes a tax bill benefiting the top one percent and the biggest corporations in this country. Then what happens, engages in a so-called trade policy that was trade by tweet born out of his fragile ego in a way that was about unilateral action that has resulted in farmers here in this great state looking at bankruptcy, soybeans rotting in bins. It is expected that hundreds of thousands of auto workers may be out of work by the end of the year because of his so-called trade policy. I call it the Trump trade tax. And here's the thing, he betrayed a lot of people; he betrayed a lot of people. So this obviously is an election about what we need to do to turn the page but it is also about recognizing that we have to fight for the America we believe in. Also knowing that we reject the voice that he has provided that has been about sowing hate and division among us. We reject that it is not reflective of who we are and I know it to be true, I know who we are we all have so much more in common than what separates us and the way I think about it is what I call the 3:00 in the morning thought you know the thing that wakes you up in the middle of the night. Because here's the deal, for the vast majority of us, when we wake up in the middle of the night thinking that thought, it is never through the lens of the party with which we register to vote. For the vast majority of us when we wake up thinking that thought it is never through the lens of some simplistic demographic some pollster put us in. And for the vast majority of us when we wake up thinking that thought, it usually has to do with one of just a very few things: our personal health, the health of our children our parents; for so many can I get a job, keep a job, pay the bills by the end of the month, retire with dignity; for our students can I pay off those student loans; for so many families can I help my family member get off their opioid addiction. The vast majority of us have so much more in common than what separates us and that is part of the strength of who we are as a nation so we will fight for that and our fight is born out of that knowledge. And so yes we must turn the page and this election is about more than that, cuz obviously dude gotta go. So the point then is, let us also think about writing the next chapter and doing that together and writing the next chapter based on the America we believe in; the America we believe in where we say, you should only have to have one job to have a roof over your head and put food on the table. An America we believe in where we say it is not okay that as of today in America almost half of our families cannot afford a four hundred dollar unexpected expense. It is not reflective of the America we believe in when in 99% of the counties in this country, if you're a minimum wage worker you can't afford market-rate for a one-bedroom apartment. It is not okay that last year in our country twelve million people had to take out a loan of on average $400 from the payday lender at an interest rate often in excess of three hundred percent. That is not the America we believe in; in the America we believe in I will tell you. When we win this election we're gonna change the tax code as follows: for families that make less than a hundred thousand dollars a year they'll get up to a $6000 tax credit that you could take home and up to $500 a month which will make all the difference between those families getting through the end of the month or not. In the America we believe in we will recognize that one of the things that keeps people up at night is the education of their children and in the America we believe in we will pay teachers their value. Because right now in America, we're looking at a situation where teachers on average are paid 11% less than similarly educated professionals. I have met more teachers here in Iowa and around the country who are working two, sometimes three jobs. Our teachers are coming ninety four percent of them out of their own pockets to help pay for school supplies. And here's the thing, there are only two people--two groups of people raising our children; parents often with the assistance of grandparents and aunties and uncles and our teachers. We must pay them their value. So in the America we believe in we will put in place the first in our nation's history federal investment in closing the teacher pay gap and here in Iowa, that's $12,200 a year. Twelve thousand two hundred dollars a year, in many places that's a year's worth the mortgage payments. Twelve thousand two hundred dollars a year, that's a year's worth the grocery bills. Twelve thousand two hundred dollars a year, that means putting a significant dent in student loan debt, which is one of the greatest barriers to our kids coming out of school and joining a profession for which they have a passion. In the America we believe in, our babies elementary, middle and high school students will not have to go to school and endure a drill during which they are taught about how they need to hide in a closet or crouched in a corner in the event there is a mass shooter roaming the hallways of their school. Those children of ours who come home at night and ask, “why did we have to have that drill?” To which of course our response is because there are supposed leaders in Washington DC who have failed to have the courage to reject a false choice which suggests you're either in favor of the second amendment or you want to take everyone's guns away. Who have failed to have the courage to agree, fine if you want to go hunting but we need reasonable gun safety laws in our country; including universal background checks and a renewal of the assault weapons ban. And so in the America we believe in if Mitch McConnell doesn't call us back to vote on a bill then when we are elected, I will give the United States Congress 100 days to pull their act together on this and put a bill on my desk for signature and if they do not, I am prepared to take executive action to put in place a comprehensive background check requirement to require the ATF to take the licenses of gun dealers who violate the law and by executive action to ban the importation of assault weapons into our country. It is time to take action in the America we believe in. We will agree that access to health care should be a right of everyone's and not a privilege of just those who can afford it. So we will put in place knowing this is one of the issues that keeps people up at night, we will put in place a medicare-for-all plan which I have proposed which will offer everyone healthcare without regard to cost put the insurance companies in check, so there will be no deductibles, no co-pays you will still have access to either a public or private plan and expand services and benefits because in the America we believe in we know that this is a human rights issue it is a civil rights issue it is a moral issue and we must do better. In the America we believe in we will agree that one of the issues that keeps us up at night is the security of our homeland and we need to have a commander-in-chief who understands her greatest priority is concerning herself with the safety and security of our nation. As opposed to the current commander in chief who on the issue of the fact of Russia's interference in the election of the president of the United States, prefers to take the word of the Russian president over the word of the American intelligence community. Who on the subject of an American student who was tortured and later died, prefers to take the word of a North Korean dictator over the word of the American intelligence community. That on the subject of a journalist who was assassinated; a journalist who had American credentials, prefers to take the word of a Saudi prince over the word of the American intelligence community. We need a new commander-in-chief. So I'll say this you know listen, I know that a lot of us over the last two years and some months, you know we've been wondering how's this all gonna turn out what's happening? You know we've been throwing objects at that inanimate object called a television, going through individual and group therapy trying to figure it all out. But here's the thing I want to remind all of the friends. In our march toward 2020, let us remember that one of the greatest strengths about who we are as a nation and as a people, is that by our very nature, we are aspirational. We are a nation that was founded on noble ideals. The ideals that were present when we wrote the Constitution of the United States and all of its amendments and the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence and those words we spoke in 1776; that we are all equal and should be treated that way. We are aspirational. We are also clear-eyed. We've not yet reached those ideals. But the strength of who we are, is we always fight to get there. And so fight we will and fight we must. Knowing this is a fight that is born out of optimism. This is a fight that is born out of knowing what can be and believing in what can be unburdened by what has been. This is a fight that is not only for the soul of our country, this is a fight born out of love of country and this therefore is a fight we will win! Thank You Iowa! Thank you!”