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Vice President Harris’s Notes to Political Science Students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee – The White House

University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Vice President: Well, what are your questions? What’s going on? How do you think about life?

Student: Really nervous now. (Laughter.)

Vice President: What is your name?

Student: Noah. glad to meet you.

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

Student: (Inaudible.)

VP: Well, you’re very kind, but this is what I want you to know: I need you to lead, and we want you to lead. OK?

When you look at what’s happening in our country now, there’s a lot of very foundational things about whether we’re going to support our democracy, the principles on which we’ve been founded, which have been about liberty and liberty.

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

And you know, when people feel lonely, it can be very frustrating. And the strength of our nation has always been: of many, one; To think of ourselves as having more in common than what divides us.

And part of your leadership that I ask of you is to remind people of communities, of the whole, and the fact that we are all in it together. It is very important.

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

You guys are going to pay for what we do or 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 Director — the FEMA President — about what’s happening in Puerto Rico, and how severe weather has devastated the island.

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

Let me tell you – right? – What’s going on with the people, the evacuation of entire communities because of these wildfires. We were talking about ‘wildfire season’. Now every year.

You’re looking at hurricanes and floods.

So what do we have to do – right? – It 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 count on you guys to remind people of the fact that — let’s not accept the wrong choices, shall we? Investing in a clean energy economy is about creating jobs. It’s about ensuring that we too – you, your children and your grandchildren will be able to breathe fresh air and drink clean water.

The work we need to do is about working with our partners around the world, because – hey, I’m chairing the Space Council. Let me tell you something: I talk to astronauts from time to time who are in space when I talk to them. And the last group, because I was in Houston, at Johnson Space Center, and then I actually went to launch Artemis in Florida. Unfortunately, it didn’t go off as we had planned; We delayed that.

But I ask astronauts when I talk to them—some of them are (inaudible) in space—and I say, “Tell me what changed your view of this, after I’ve been in space.” And they almost tell me, “You’re in space looking at Earth and realizing how delicate and fragile it is.” right?

So on this issue of the climate crisis, as well as every other issue that you guys might be addressing 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 addresses some of these issues and gets rid of unnecessary conflict and partisanship, you know, and it’s really about saying, “Hey, let’s get together on this, because we’re all in this together “. It doesn’t matter who you voted for the last time or who you voted for the next time. If we don’t come together on this issue, we will all pay the price.

So, anyway, I just wanted to come up to tell you guys that I’m so proud of you just because you started your first year, except for one person — (Laughter) — and just keep going. It’s an exciting time. You guys get together and sit next to each other, and they will end up being friends for life, I tell you.

In my freshman year, I met people who ended up – you know, we ended up being the godfather to their children. right? People you will know all your life.

So, enjoy this experience. And your big brain is like a sponge now. So just absorb it all. Ask all questions. And only drive. Just drive because we need you guys. OK? Good. thank you all. (clap.)

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