Fighting for Our Ideals

The following remarks were made by Attorney General Kamala Harris at the 2016 California Democratic Party Convention. Watch Kamala’s speech here.

When I was growing up, many of you may know, my parents were activists in the Civil Rights Movement. And there’s something I remember from my childhood that really made me believe in the possibilities of our country. I saw people of all ages, all colors, all religions, all backgrounds, unified in their fight for justice.

But when we turn on the TV today we are seeing something shockingly different. Friends, we have never seen a national election like the one we are witnessing this year. And as if the stakes weren’t high enough, now we have the future of the United States Supreme Court hanging in the balance.

Indeed, the stakes are very high. And I believe we face a defining choice. It will be a choice about first principles. It will be a choice about fundamental values. It’s about what we stand for as a nation and what kind of future we believe is possible.

But just look at the politics of poison coursing through the bloodstream in the race for the Republican nomination. That race has been a race to the bottom. It has been a race to anger; a race to blame; a race to fan the flames of nativism in our country.

And then, of course, there’s the “Big Promise.”

They say they will “Make America Great Again.” Well, in my mind that statement begs an obvious question. “AGAIN” for whom? Can someone tell me, exactly WHICH part of the past they want to bring back?

Because that’s exactly what they’re talking about. They want to go back.

They want to go back on civil rights and voting rights. They want to deny the franchise instead of protecting the vote. Democrats, we know the stakes are too high. We are not going back.

They promise they’ll reverse the Prop 8 ruling by ignoring the Supreme Court and violating the separation of powers. Democrats, we know the stakes are too high. We are not about to go back on the fundamental right to marry the person you love.

They promise to deny entry into our country for women and children solely based on the God they worship. Democrats, we all know our nation was founded on the rock of religious liberty, and the stakes are too high. We’re not going back on our values, and we cannot turn our backs on the Syrian refugees.

They promise to go back on the rights of workers to organize for their families and their futures. Now is the time to stand WITH our teachers who are under attack at the Supreme Court because we are not going back on collective bargaining.

They want to go back to allowing coal companies, big oil, and big business to poison our water and our land. We’re not going to let the polluters and their army of science-deniers drag us backwards!

And they promise to go back to a time when even a victim of sexual assault did not have the right to choose. But the stakes are too high in this election. We are not going back to that back alley!

So, Democrats, here’s what I believe this election IS about.

It’s about moving forward. Together. It’s about who we are and who we want to be, all of us, we the People.

It’s about defeating the Politics of Poison. It’s we the People.

It’s about rejecting “us-versus-them” and that mantra of “yesterday.” It’s we the People.

To be one people, we must accept the challenge. As President Obama has reminded us, it’s the challenge of The Founders, the challenge to be a more perfect union.

A “union” signifying we are stronger when we stand together.

And folks, we also know and must acknowledge the tragic truth about our past and our present.

We know that for far too many people “liberty and justice for all” is a promise we have YET to keep.

Indeed, the promise of a more perfect union is what Fannie Lou Hamer was talking about when she said, “nobody’s free ‘til everybody’s free.”

A more perfect union is what Cesar Chavez meant when he said, “Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.”

So, I’ll tell you what all this means to me as I stand before you asking for your support.

We the People understand our unity is our strength and our diversity is our power.

California Democrats, together we can make this a more perfect union. One where our economy works for everyone, including our middle class, and where a minimum wage means a minimum standard of living and a minimum standard of dignity.

Together, we can make this a more perfect union where our children have a genuine opportunity to achieve their potential, where every child has access to quality public education and every parent has access to affordable childcare.

Let’s fight for that more perfect union where we don’t sink our college students with a lifetime of debt just so big banks and for-profit colleges can bathe in the riches.

Let’s believe in a more perfect union without the mass incarceration of African American men. And where we all recognize the truth: Black Lives Do Matter!

And we know what a more perfect union looks like. It looks like
12 million hard-working immigrants who are finally able to come out of the shadows, and where they are able to participate in the full light of the American economy and raise their children without fear.

Democrats, let’s make a more perfect union safe from terrorism by engaging with our international partners and always leading with democratic values and human rights.

And together, all of us, let’s make this a more perfect union where church-goers in Charleston and civil servants in San Bernardino can go about their lives without fear of terrorists with guns. And, yes, where the United States Congress doesn’t bow down in fear of the NRA!

Let’s make this a more perfect union by reversing Citizens United because we know Citizens United really means Citizens Divided.

Together, let’s fight for a more perfect union where we rescue our planet from climate change and put an end to oil companies manipulating our laws.

Let’s make a more perfect union where the law finally guarantees women equal pay for equal work — women of all colors – and whether she be a construction worker, a tech worker, or the woman who is the CEO.

And Democrats, let’s make this a more perfect union by fighting for the ideals of our country. All of us. Together.

I’ve been a prosecutor and a public servant my entire career, and I’ve had only one client: The People of the State of California. I want to be a Senator for All the People.

We know so goes California, so goes the rest of the nation. The nation is looking at us for leadership. California Democrats, please stand with me, support me in this bid for the United States Senate, and let us continue to lead our nation!

I would be honored to have your support.

Thank you.