“Because you voted”: Kamala Harris reminds young women of their political power
The vice president headlined a get-out-the-vote rally for New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and gave the audience a message to pass along to voters who may be tempted to stay on the sidelines next week.
Vice President Kamala Harris isn’t kidding herself.
She knows that some voters who punched their ballot two years ago to send her and President Joe Biden to the White House and flip the Senate may be on the fence about doing so again in four days.
But she told a room of a few hundred supporters and students on the campus of Barnard College, a private women's liberal arts college on the campus of Columbia University in New York City, that progress, however incremental it may feel, doesn’t just happen.
“The way I see it is when people went in 2020 to vote, they were essentially putting in their order,” Harris said. “And this what they said: They said there are certain things that I want to remind them of that I know I’m entitled to. So when we go to ask them to vote this time in [four] days, we’re going to, first of all, say thank you for doing what you did last time. And then we’re going to remind them, ‘So you put in your order and here’s what your vote did.’”
From a historic $370 billion investment in climate justice and another trillion dollars to rebuild the nation’s crumbling infrastructure to the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson and gun safety legislation and student loan debt relief, the vice president said that these achievements, many of which have eluded previous administrations, were a direct result of youth voter engagement.
“And because you voted, we extended the child tax credit, which reduced poverty for children in America by 40 percent in the first year,” Harris said of one of the administration’s signature economic policies that expired at the end of 2021.
The vice president was in town to campaign for Gov. Kathy Hochul, who is running to be the first woman elected governor in New York state. (Hochul took office in August 2021 after Andrew Cuomo resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment and is already the state’s first female governor as well as the first governor from upstate New York since the 1930s.)
Harris’s visit to the Big Apple is the latest demonstration of the defensive posture Democrats up and down the ballot find themselves in during the home stretch of an election cycle that has seen extreme Republican candidates like Zeldin compete in places historically known as liberal strongholds. As Republicans have expanded the map in districts and states that Biden won, Democrats are deploying VIPs like Harris, her husband and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, former President Barack Obama — and even Oprah Winfrey! — to energize the base. There’s also been an emphasis on events that activate core Democratic coalitions, including Black, Latino, LGBTQ+, or in this case, women voters.
The Barnard rally was headlined by a litany of history-making women, including New York Attorney General Letitia James and former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, the first woman to lead a major party’s presidential ticket and the state’s US senator for eight years.
James told the students to reject the misconception from mainstream media, political pundits and campaign consultants that young people are disinterested in the political process.
“It’s always been young people who moved the country forward, not politicians,” she said.
Clinton reminded the crowd that she predicted Republicans would “pack the [Supreme Court]” with conservative justices if Donald Trump was elected and that his movement would work to roll back rights for marginalized communities and resort to political violence if it didn’t get its way.
She also pushed back against the Republican Party’s law-and-order messaging on crime. (Hochul’s opponent Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin has made reducing violent crime a cornerstone of his gubernatorial campaign.)
The party, Clinton argued, is the one full of supporters that incited an insurrection on the US Capitol, and most recently GOP lawmakers and candidates have joked about the life-threatening attack on Paul Pelosi, the 82-year-old husband of House Speaker Nancy, last week. (Pelosi was released from the hospital yesterday and is continuing his recovery at home.)
“They don’t care about keeping you safe,” she said. “They care about keeping you scared.”
Hochul, for her part, said that she’s proven in the little more than a year as the top elected state official that she has what it takes to “govern a rough-and-tumble place” like New York. And she encouraged young women in the audience to not just be a witness to history, but to make their own just as she’s attempting to do in her campaign.
“If you believe that we should continuing investing in our people, invest in education — your education — making sure that you have this shot at the New York dream that we cherish, then you need to make sure that I’m still your governor on Wednesday.”
Vice President Harris, who has become the administration’s top surrogate on abortion rights since Roe v. Wade was overturned this past summer, reaffirmed the White House’s commitment to restoring the federal protections that were repealed when Roe fell but also spoke to the vital role of state and local officials in safeguarding your fundamental rights.
“If this happens as these Republicans are tyring to put so many of their leaders, they have there will be a national ban on abortion. And we’re going to need people in the statehouse and at the local level who have the courage to stand up and push back against what is happening in our country,” she said. “And then that way, who is your governor matters, who is your attorney general matters, your lieutenant governor matters because they will be the last line of defense with what we’re seeing happen around our country.”
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The economy created 261,000 jobs in October, unemployment rises to 3.7%. Notable job gains occurred in health care, professional and technical services, and manufacturing, according to the monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics released this morning. The unemployment rates for adult women and white people rose last month, while those for adult men, teens, Black people, Asians and Hispanic people showed little or no change over the month. (The BLS also noted that Hurricane Ian didn’t have a discernible effect on national employment and unemployment last month.) White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Thursday that the administration expected the economy to add closer to an average of 150,000 jobs, similar to the average monthly job gains it saw back in 2019 before the pandemic. Jean-Pierre added that lower numbers would be a sign that the economy has transitioned from adding record-breaking numbers of jobs every month to a stable and steady economy as the Federal Reserve works to tame inflation.
Student loan debt update. President Biden said on Thursday that the Education Department will have approved the applications and sent the necessary paperwork to servicers for 16 million Americans to have their loans canceled. The program is temporarily on hold until a court rules on a lawsuit filed by Republican-led states to block the relief. “As soon as I announced my administration’s plan for student debt, they started attacking it, even though I ran on it and everybody knew what I was going to do,” Biden said during a speech at Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “Their outrage is just simply wrong. And I might add, very — I don’t want to be political here — but hypocritical.” 26 million people have applied for cancelation since the Education Department started accepting applications last month.
VP pays her respects to renowned NYC pastor. On her way to Barnard for the Hochul campaign event, Vice President Harris made an unannounced visit to Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem to attend the viewing of the late Rev. Calvin Butts, an iconic civil rights leader who died last month of pancreatic cancer. Harris was inside for roughly 10 minutes and a few onlookers cheered and stopped to take photos as she exited the church.
US officials meet with Brittney Griner. The State Department on Thursday confirmed that US embassy officials in Moscow were able to visit Griner, who has been wrongfully detained in Russia since February and is serving a nine-year sentence for carrying a small amount of cannabis oil in her luggage. The officials said Griner is doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances. And the White House called on Russia to accept the US government’s offer for a prisoner swap to free Griner and Paul Whelan, another wrongful detainee in Russia, or propose a good-faith counteroffer for consideration.
Twitter layoffs to start this morning. Thousands of workers at the tech company are expected to be laid off this morning via email as Elon Musk continues to remake the social app and its business model in his controversial image. Employees who are let go will receive an email in their personal inbox with next steps. Those not impacted by the workforce reduction will receive work through their Twitter email. Twitter has closed its offices and suspended all badge access in what it describes as an attempt to ensure the safety of both employees and the company’s systems and customer data.
Biden has a busy weekend. We’re four days out from the midterms and President Biden is on a cross-country sprint to make the case that congressional Democrats should get two more years in power to advance the rest of his legislative agenda. This morning, he will join Rep. Mike Levin for a visit to an American tech company that will benefit from the CHIPS and Science Act he signed late this summer. (Biden also spoke at a political event for Levin in San Diego last night.) The president will then travel to Chicago this evening through Saturday morning before heading to Philadelphia tomorrow afternoon for a political rally with former President Barack Obama and other officials. The White House has not said yet how President Biden will spend Election Day next week or if he will host a next-day press conference in the tradition of his most recent predecessors.
Supercreator and #blkcreatives join forces. If you’re still unsure about voting next week or overwhelmed by the stakes of the election, you might find comfort in a primer I wrote for my friends at #blkcreatives featuring five points you need to know — including how each party is framing the election, what to do if you see or experience voter intimidation at the polls and how the outcome of the election could impact House Democratic leadership. Read the full post and share it far and wide.
Supercreator turns 3 next week. The midterms aren’t the only notable events happening next week. Two days later, Supercreator will celebrate its third trip ‘round the sun. I’ll reflect on the past career-defining year and share more about what’s next for the newsletter in the coming days. But for now, you should know I’m entering the weekend with so much gratitude to you for helping to make this important work possible. Stay tuned!