Edgartown, Massachusetts

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everyone.

AUDIENCE:  Good afternoon.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Oh, it’s good to see everyone.  It is good to — Debra is front and center.  (Laughter.) 

Let me just start by thanking Maria.  So, Jeff is not here — (laughs) — and was planning on being here, and — first of all, Maria and Jeff have hosted me at their home in LA, here, and so many places over the years.  And — and usually it is Jeff that stands up and speaks.  And — but he’s not here, and so Maria is doing it.  And this is — you do so much as an extraordinary businesswoman.  Let’s all no- — recognize her business on the Vineyard — (applause) — Soul Gems by Maria. 

And she’s an extraordinary friend.  She’s an extraordinary mother.  And — and I just can’t thank you enough for doing what you have done to still pull this event together and to host me and to give me that extraordinary invitation and then introduction.  So, can we please hear it for Maria?  (Applause.)

I also want to thank Mitch and Freada Kapor for all that you do.  (Applause.)  They have been friends and on my journey since I started as DA of San Francisco.

And to everyone here, thank you.  Areva Martin is here, and we were just talking about Charles Ogletree.  And I just can’t be on the Vineyard — I just arrived — without speaking his name and thanking him, as I know we all do, for his extraordinary leadership and his voice and his mentorship of so many of us. 

So, if we can all just take a moment to really think about the great Tree.

I also want to thank Governor Wes Moore, who is here — (applause) — from the great state of Maryland.  I am so — it just — I — I love our friendship and, more than anything, I love your role of leadership.  You have been so extraordinary.  You have already accomplished so much, with so much more that I know you have the ambition and ability to achieve.  So, thank you for that.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.

So, I want to just start by saying thank you to everybody — for, so many of you, being supportive of me and my career over the years, and for the work that all of you did in 2020 to elect Joe Biden President of the United States and me Vice President of the United States.  And I want to reflect for a moment on — on what that required of each of you. 

In the height of a pandemic, when there was so much loss — loss of life, people lost their jobs, loss of normalcy, people losing hope — you, as leaders, did not give up and, in so many ways, encouraged people to remember that they were not alone and could make a difference, and that when we as individuals band together as the collective in the community, we have great power in our ability to continue to work on developing out the promise of America. 

And you all didn’t give up.  And you pushed.  And because of the work you did in 2020, we had record turnout in the midst of a pandemic, record turn- — historic turnout of young voters.  I look at the young leaders who are here.  (Laughter.)  And because of that, think about what that meant.

Before that election, we were looking, for example, at — few years, at least, of jobs being shipped overseas.  And now, because of what you did and our leadership as an administration, we have created 13 million new jobs, over 800,000 manufacturing jobs, right here in the United States.  (Applause.)  Elections matter. 

Before, we were looking at seniors around our country having the awful choice of deciding, for so many, whether they could afford to either fill their prescription for insulin or put food in their refrigerator.  And let us remember that Black folks are 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes; Latinos, 70 percent more likely. 

And because you work so hard, we, as an administration, have now capped the cost of insulin for our seniors at $35 a month.  This is historic and a game changer.  (Applause.)

We have now capped the cost of prescription medication on an annual basis for our seniors at $2,000 — $2,000 a year — whereas before they were looking at extraordinary medical debt. 

For years, grandparents and parents in places around our country have been talking about the harm and the danger of lead pipes, how the children of our country were drinking toxic water out of those lead pipes, which was leading to health harm and impact on their ability to learn. 

And because of the work you did and because we are now in office, we are on track to remove all lead pipes in the United States, saying that this should not be an issue — (applause) — that these families have to fight against alone.

Because of the work that you did, we were able to pass the first significant legislation around gun safety in 30 years — historic work that has been about expanding what we need to do around background checks, closing what was called the “boyfriend loophole,” and addressing one of the biggest issues that is challenging our country.

And when you think about the fact that gun violence right now in America is the number one cause of death for our children — not a health issue.  Gun violence, the number one cause of death for the children of America.  One in five people in America have a family member who was killed because of gun violence. 

These are some of the things that we have been able to take on because of your activism and your optimism — that when we get involved, we can actually produce the outcomes that we know are right and in the best interest of our country. 

You all know, and it is why you are here this afternoon, elections matter.  Elections matter to real people every day in our country. 

And so, when I look at where we are, I know also that being clear-eyed about this moment — and Maria talked about it — we got a whole lot of challenges that we must meet, understanding the significance of this election coming up in ‘24. 

Think about it.  We have extremist so-called leaders in our country who are engaged in an intentional, full-on attack against hard-won freedoms and rights. 

Take, for example, an agenda that has been in place for decades now, that resulted in the highest court in our land — the court of Thurgood and RBG — taking a constitutional right, that had been recognized, from the women of America.  And thereafter, these extremist so-called leaders passing laws around our country that would criminalize healthcare providers, punish women, and make no exception for some of the worst crimes of violation to a person’s body.  And then say to that person, after they have survived that violation to their body, they don’t have the right to make a decision about what happens to their body next.  Full-on attack.  Hard-won freedoms and right — the right to vote. 

So, we will congratulate and be thankful for the work that happened in 2020 to have historic turnout.  But that scared a lot of people.  And so what you saw is, almost immediately thereafter, these extremists passing laws restricting ballot boxes, drop boxes; shortening the time people could vote early; passing a law that makes it illegal to give people food and water while they stand in line to vote. 

What happened to “love thy neighbor”?  The hypocrisy abounds.

Passing laws.  “Don’t Say Gay.”  Now, you all know, I, as District Attorney of San Francisco, was proud to perform some of the first same-sex marriages in 2004.  So, that was almost 20 years ago, next year. 

Now you look at these laws in Florida, “Don’t Say Gay,” where these teachers, many of the young ones are in their 20s — okay, think about this in terms of the trajectory of history — in their 20s, and if they are in a same-sex relationship, are afraid to put up a photograph of their family for fear they may lose their job. 

Extremist so-called leaders banning books in this year of our Lord 2023. 

I just was — as — as I was leaving D.C. this morning — I was working out, and I was watching and they were talking about how they’re even starting to restrict Shakespeare.  (Laughter.) 

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Don’t think.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  What — don’t think.  (Inaudible) remember — who read “1984”?  In 2023, full-on attack on fundamental freedoms and rights. 

And there is a national agenda afoot.  And so, I say all that to say, I do believe — I know we say this every election cycle — I do believe this is one of the most significant elections in our collective lifetime and probably the lifetime of our children.

Full-on attacks against our democracy and foundational principles, such as freedom and liberty, not to mention equality and justice. 

And I will tell you, as Vice President of the United States, I have now met with over 100 world leaders — presidents, prime ministers, chancellors, and kings.  When we walk in those rooms, representing the United States of America, we walk in chin up, shoulders back, with the earned and self-appointed authority to talk about the importance of democracy, rule of law, human rights — a role model.

Well, here’s the thing — this is a room of role models — here’s the thing about being a role model: People watch what you do to see if it matches what you say. 

One of my great fears is that not only is this about the harm that is being done to our own country, that there may be women who are fighting — and they are — in some country that is being ruled by a dictator or an autocrat, and they are fighting for fundamental rights, and that autocrat, dictator is looking at them and saying, “You want to hold out the United States as your example?  Look what they’re doing.  You sit down.”

Understand what this means, not only for the people of our country but people around the world.  This is what is at stake. 

And we have good reason to be optimistic.  Did you see what just happened in Ohio?  (Applause.)  Think about that.  Think about that.

As I like to call it — so, these extremists thought they were going to pull some wool over people’s eyes by putting an election on one issue on the ballot on some random Tuesday in August and thought that people weren’t going notice and turn out.  And they did —


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — in record numbers.  You did.  And said, “We’re not having that.”  “We’re not having that.

Look at what happened — look what happened in the midterms.  Remember, they said there was going be this red wave, and that did not happen. 

Look what happened in the midterms.  When the issue of the right for reproductive freedom was on the ballot, everywhere from Kansas to California, the voters said, “We’re not having that.”

I was just yesterday in Chicago, in a room of over 2,000 mostly young people who are fighting to say that our lives are at stake on this issue of reasonable gun safety laws, and we expect you to get something done.  And they are active.  And they are organizing.

Look at what is happening on the issue of the climate crisis and these young leaders who are saying, “You know what?  We’ve come up with a term, because we’ve self-diagnosed, even if you all aren’t paying attention.  We know we have this thing called ‘climate anxiety,’ worried about whether we can ever have children or have a family, because what’s going to be in this world in the next 10 years?”  And they’re organizing around it. 

I went down to Tennessee to visit with the two Justins and Gloria — (applause) — elected leaders in their 20s who, when they were in a legislative body as elected leaders during regular — official session trying to talk about the importance of dealing with gun saf- — and — and gun violence, and these extremists dared to turn off their microphones.  This is not even a metaphor.  I’m not saying symbolically.  They literally turned off the microphones. 

But here’s what I loved about that.  The Justins were like, “All right, anybody got a bullhorn?”  (Laughter and applause.)

People are ready.  People are organizing.  And when I think about it fundamentally, I do think of it this way.  There’s so much about our movement right now to — to protect our democracy that is founded in a very basic feeling: We love our country.  We know our country is worth fighting for.  We believe in the foundational principles and the ideals, the ideals upon which our country was founded. 

We are also very clear-eyed we’ve not reached them yet.  But ours has always been the fight to get closer to reaching and achieving those ideals.  And in that way, we have never given up on our country, because we know what we are capable of. 

And so, that’s how I think about this moment.  Because I know there are these various things that happen that make us wonder what is going on.  Some people looking at their passport and trying to figure out if it’s updated.  (Laughter.)  Don’t give up.  Don’t give up.  Because you know what?  We’re — we’re good.  We’re all in this together. 

And I’ll just close with something, and I paraphrase it all the time; you’ve heard me paraphrase it 1,000 times.

Coretta Scott King famously said the fight for civil rights, which of course is the fight for justice and equality and freedom — she said the fight for civil rights must be fought and won with each generation. 

And what does that mean?  Inherent in that point is: Understand, the gains we make, by the very nature of it all, will not be permanent unless we are vigilant. 

And so, the second point, I think, is the admonition, therefore, understanding that’s the nature of it all, do not despair.  Do not be overwhelmed.  Do not throw up our hands when it is time to roll up our sleeves. 

And in that way, we are all in this together.  And I thank you, everyone, for the support.  (Applause.)


Stay Connected

Sign Up

We'll be in touch with the latest information on how President Biden and his administration are working for the American people, as well as ways you can get involved and help our country build back better.

Opt in to send and receive text messages from President Biden.

Scroll to Top Scroll to Top