NeueHouse Madison Square

New York, New York

5:37 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Hey, everyone.  Hi, hi, hi.  (Applause.)

Do you have, like, a mic?  Can I walk around with a mic? 

Sit.  Please have a seat.

I hate standing behi- — here we go.  I hate standing behind a podium. 

Good evening, everyone.  It is so good to be every- — with everyone.  Phil, Thelma, everyone, thank you so very much.

I’m only going to speak briefly because I want us to get into a good conversation.  But let me thank all of you so very much.

As you heard from Thelma and Phil, I was born loving art.  And I once aspired that I could be as — an artist, and my mother convinced me that I probably could.  But, you know, I mean, I did pen and ink.  It was only so good.

But I grew up — so, I grew up in the Bay Area, the daughter of parents who were active in Civil Rights Movement.  And as many of you know, the intersection and the relationship between art and movements in our country and around the world is inextricable. 

They are intertwined in such a foundation and fundamental way, because when we understand the impetus, the passion, and the — the reason for these movements and, in particular, the movements that have been about a fight for freedom, we know that it’s about an expression of feelings that sometimes we can capture in words, but sometimes we capture through art — visually or through song or through dance.

And so, I grew up in an environment that was very rich about the importance of expression and for it to be free and to be received and to be understood or, at least, let’s try to understand it.

And so, when Phil and when — when Thelma — when we talked about doing this for this election cycle, I was so excited, and I am so excited that we are all here together to see the connections, especially in this moment, because I don’t need to tell anyone here what’s happening in our country right now.

I have witnessed, during the course of my three years as Vice President and even before, but in the last several years, there is a full-on intent to attack fundamental freedoms and rights in our country, whether it be the freedom to love who you love openly and with pride — (applause); the freedom to be — to be; the freedom to — to be free from the fear of gun violence; the freedom to learn America’s full history — (applause); the freedom to be fear [free] from bigotry and hate; and the freedom for a woman to make decisions about her own body — (applause) — and not have her government tell her what to do; and the freedom to have access to the ballot box.  I could go on and on. 

Fundamental freedoms — and I have empirical evidence of every point that I have just made, especially in the last few years.  Full-on attacks, unapologetic, against those rights and those freedoms.

And in this environment, there has been something that has also caused those especially who — whose freedoms are being attacked to feel alone.  I think that’s part of the intent of some of this push: to make people feel alone, the other-ism.  We’re not together; it’s you versus me, but not us.

And when we can bring people together to see something, like in art, where they see something that they recognize based on a life they have experienced, and to each one of us, we can look at that one piece of art, and based on what we see through the lens of what we feel and what we’ve experienced, we see something different, but we’re all looking at the same thing.  Isn’t that very special?  Isn’t that very special?

And so, I think about this moment in many ways, obviously.  But one of them is I look at this moment through the lens of the importance of us finding a way to unify and bring people together and make sure folks don’t feel alone and to create community.  And after all, artists do that so well all the time.

And for all of those reasons, I’m — I’m so thrilled to be with all of you.

And I’ll just end with this point.  I mean, you know, I think that there’s been this kind of perverse approach in the last several years that suggests that the measure of the strength of a — a leader is based on who you beat down, instead of what I think we all know, which is the true measure of the strength of a leader is based on who you lift up.

And — (applause) — there’s — there’s been some sense that, oh, it’s a sign of weakness to have empathy, when, in fact, the — the character of real leaders is the character that causes one to have some level of care and concern about the suffering of other people and then do something about it. 

And I say that to an extraordinary group of leaders, who also understand the importance of expression and recognizing the emotions and the passion and the feeling that we all have and — and providing a space for that expression.

So, thank you all.  I’m very happy to be with you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

Let’s begin our conversation.

END                     5:43 P.M. EDT

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