The Kennedy Center
6:40 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Daniel Dae Kim! Hi, everyone. Good evening. Good evening. Please, sit. Good evening. Good evening.
Wow, look at this. (Laughter.) This is incredible. It’s good to be with everyone tonight. It’s good to be with everyone.
Daniel Dae Kim, thank you for the introduction and for your leadership and your courage. He and I were talking backstage. Daniel shows up. (Applause.) He shows up. He has such a gift. He has such a talent. And he has such a skill. He doesn’t have to do half the stuff that he does, and he keeps showing up. And so I just want to say in front of all the friends: Thank you, Daniel.
Chairman Shekar, where are you? Thank you for all that you do. Where is he? He’s backstage, of course, working. (Laughs.) That was a beautiful tribute to our dear friend, Norm Mineta.
And Norm’s story is a reminder of why we must stay in the fight, no matter how many reasons we are given to quit. Norm Mineta, who I knew and considered a mentor for my entire elected career. He truly helped inspire a generation — I think generations of leaders to enter public service, including me. And it was good to be at the Rose Garden with his family, honoring his legacy and his life.
And it, of course, always good to be with so many friends, including Congressman Andy Kim, Mayor Michelle Wu, and Mayor Aftab Pureval. Thank you all for your leadership. (Applause.)
And the other electeds who may be in the room, you know I love you. I’m sorry if I don’t know you’re here. (Laughter.)
And we were all together just a few days in the Rose Garden. And for those who weren’t there — when I was standing at the podium and I was there with the President, of course, and so many others, and I looked out — it was the biggest crowd that we’ve had yet at the Rose Garden. And it was extraordinary to see the leadership — the leadership of our nation who were in attendance — from every walk, from every field — there, representing the best of who we are as a nation.
And it was such a great tribute to the great people of our nation, when we think about the leaders that were there, the leaders we remember, and — and all of those who paved a path for so many of us to be where we are today.
And this month and every month, of course with pride, we celebrate the contributions of those great leaders — Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders across our nation. And within the celebration, of course, this year and, sadly, last year and before, it is impossible to celebrate and ignore that we celebrate at a time — I am saying at this moment in this time — where I believe there’s, and we are witnessing, an epidemic of hate in our country.
And we only need to look at the events of the last two weeks in Buffalo, in Laguna Woods, in Dallas.
You know, we have always known — and we believe in speaking truth as leaders — we have always known that racism is real in America, that xenophobia is real in America, that sexism is real in America.
And, today, we are witnessing, again and again, the terrible human cost of this hate. We are seeing this hate manifest itself in violent acts.
And I think we all are clear about the threat. There are people who believe that America is meant only for some and not for all; who scapegoat and attack people because of their race, because of their ethnicity, because of their gender; people who see diversity and inclusion as a weakness, not as the strength we all know it to be.
So, yes, this moment does require reflection, in addition to action. It does require reflection that comes with the question: Who are we as a nation? And what do we stand for?
I look at America today, and yes, as I’ve said, I see an epidemic of hate that seems to be growing, but I also see — I also see a country that still embodies its most profound belief, which is that we are all in this together as one nation undivided and that this moment then calls on us to come together — as a community and as a country. A moment to talk about how we live to the greatest and best of our ideals. And, most importantly, it is a moment for action.
We must take action to end an epidemic of any sort, including an epidemic of hate. We must mobilize in support of the notion that a harm against any one of us is a harm against all of us. And we must — (applause) — and we must organize against those who seek to incite violence.
I believe this is a collective fight and that each of us here has an important role to play.
Daniel talked about the coalition. He and I were talking about that backstage. We have, each of us, an important role to play in bringing together the various groups of people who all we understand that we have so much more in common than what separates us.
We have the work in front of us that we are doing just this very evening to support the AAPI Victory Fund, knowing that it mobilizes and turns out voters, and that that work could not be more important in this moment.
And just think about it. We have a track record of knowing it makes a huge difference.
Two years ago, the work of this group and these leaders helped send President Joe Biden and me to the White House. (Applause.) Yeah. And turn the Senate blue! (Applause.) Yes!
And, you know, we all know, because many of us have been doing this for a long time: When we talk about turning out the vote, we know that we’re prepared to do what is necessary to connect with folks through whatever medium. It may be a knock on a door, it may be a text, it may be a phone call, an email. And we know — those of us who have been doing it for a long time — some people will turn to us and say, “Well, why should I vote?” And we have things to point to.
Think about it: Since the time of the 2020 election, our administration, together — all of us, working together — we’ve taken action to protect our AA and NHPI communities.
Back when I was in the Senate — it’s been mentioned before — Senator Hirono, Senator Duckworth, and I introduced a resolution in the Senate condemning the rise in anti-Asian sentiment across our country — the hate that was rising.
And we gather tonight, then, on the first anniversary of the day that President Biden signed into law the bipartisan COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act.
That law provides resources and training to state and local law enforcement to accurately identify and report hate crimes. Because we work on the detail, all of us, together. We know that we need to address those fissures and failures in the system that might cause a lack of accountability for these horrendous acts. We know that we need to address — and this is what we did with that law — language and cultural barriers that make it different for our communities to report these crimes.
And our administration has taken steps to address not only that which holds us back, but also that which moves us forward.
So we have created eight and a half — almost — million jobs since taking office 15 months ago — (applause) — a record-setting pace in job creation.
Unemployment is down to 3.6 percent. (Applause.)
We passed an historic infrastructure law that is already delivering results for the American people.
Earlier today — I have to tell you, one of the things I’m just so completely excited about — it is my inner nerd — I’m so excited about electric school buses. (Laughs.) (Applause.) And part of what we did with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is we put — we’re putting billions of dollars into this thing. You know, 25 million of our children every day go to school on those buses. And they’re — they’re breathing these exhaust systems. Right? And it’s having a direct impact on their health and, therefore, their ability to learn.
But these are the kinds of things we’ve been doing, all of us, when we get out the vote, when we remind people of what is at stake, and then when we deliver, including what we will continue to do, of course, in terms of lowering costs for working families.
And, I should note, we have appointed more Asian Americans at every level in our government, including to the federal judiciary. (Applause.) And we know what that means.
And because of the work of the Victory Fund and the support and the hard work in 2020, our country is, therefore, getting back on track. And this year, then, we need our voters to once again be the margin of victory. Asian voters were the margin of victory in 2020. (Applause.)
So as the midterm elections draw near, we know that so much is at stake: the progress we have already made; the progress we must make on voting rights, workers’ rights, women’s rights; the work we must do to bring down costs, to create good-paying jobs, union jobs; the work we must do to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to succeed, no matter where their grandmother was born.
It is not hyperbole to say: What we do between now and November will determine the future of our nation. Truly.
So we need to make sure that AA and NHPI voices are heard at the ballot boxes around our country, just as we need to make sure that those voices are represented in all levels of government.
Asian Americas must be in the rooms where the decisions are being made. Because when policies reflect our experiences — our collective experiences — our perspectives, I am certain of one thing: Our country is stronger — (applause) — and our country is more just.
So there are no questions, of course — there is not a question that there are obstacles on our road to progress. But the strength of our country has always been that despite the challenges, we ultimately fight our way toward a more perfect union.
The President and I remain focused, as do we all, on the path forward toward a better future for all people. A future free from the dark scourge of hate. A future where every child can reach their potential; where every community is safe and healthy; and yes, where every woman gets to make decisions about her own body. (Applause.) A future where when someone has a good idea or a dream, they will have access to capital to start and grow a business. A future where workers are treated with dignity, with an appreciation for the value of their skill and their work, and where, again, every person can succeed and thrive.
I believe, as I know we all do, that we can build that future together. So let us continue with our work, having confidence that what we are doing is making a difference.
But here’s the deal: I believe there is nothing that we have achieved in this nation that has been about progress that did not come with hard work and, yes, struggle, and sometimes a good fight.
We’re up for it, so let’s continue to do this good work together.
Thank you all, and take care. (Applause.)
END 6:55 P.M. EDT