tv Pres. Biden Delivers Remarks on Voting Rights in Philadelphia CSPAN July 18, 2021 12:22pm-12:55pm EDT
>> that's tonight at 8 p.m. eastern on c-span's "q&a." you can also listen to it as a podcast wherever you get your podcasts. >> deputy defense secretary kathleen hicks testified on sexual assault in the military tuesday live at 2 p.m. eastern on c-span three. where you can listen on the free c-span radio app. >> next, president biden delivers remarks on voting rights. he said the united states is facing the most significant test of our democracy since the civil war and accused republicans of election subversion. from national constitution center in philadelphia, this is
[applause] pres. biden: that is an awful lot of friends out there, please take a seat if you have one. i used to be important, the chairman of the board of this place, and jeffrey rosen allowed me to do that, but thank you all for being here, i truly appreciate it. governor, mr. mayor, i thought you are a great mayor, still think you are with your judgment is even stronger, but all of you, my good friend. al sharpton, how are you, pal?
it is great to see you. [applause] i am going to get in trouble here because i will recognize my congresswoman from the state of delaware. [applause] and, her sister who used to run my office, stand up. folks, good afternoon. this is a serious subject that i would like to talk about today. i am here at philadelphia in the national constitution center where this story of we the people began. it is a story that is neither simple nor straightforward. that is because the story is the sum of our parts, and all of them are fundamentally human and being human is being imperfect, driven by appetite and ambition as much as by goodness and grace.
some things in america should be simple and straightforward. perhaps the most important of those things, the most fundamental of those things is the right to vote. the right to vote freely. [applause] the right to vote freely, the right to vote fairly. the right to have your vote counted. the democratic threshold is liberty. with it anything is possible. without it, nothing. for our democracy, and the work to deliver our work and our people, to all of us to protect that right. this is the test of our time and what i am here to talk about today. just think about the past election, 102-year-old woman in arkansas who voted for the first time on the very spot she once
picked cotton. a 94-year-old woman in michigan voted early and in person in her 72nd consecutive election. you know what she said? she said it was "the most important vote that we ever had." the daughter who voted in memory of her dad who died of covid-19 so others would not have the experience of pain, darkness, and loss that she was going through. and, the parents, the parents who voted for school that their children will learn and, sons and daughters voted for the planet that they are going to live on. young people just turning 18 and everyone for, who the first time in their lives thought that they could truly make a difference.
america, america, and americans of every background voted. they voted for good jobs and higher wages, racial equity, justice, they voted to make health care a right not the privilege. the length they went to be able to vote were absolutely extraordinary. in fact, the fact that so many election officials across the country made it easier and safer for them to be able to vote in the middle of a pandemic is remarkable. in 2020, more people in america voted than ever in the history in the middle of a once in a century pandemic. [applause] all told, more than 150 americans of every age, race, background exercised their right
to vote. they voted early, absentee, in person, by mail, by dropbox, and then they got their families, and friends to go out and vote. election officials, the entire election system withstood unrelenting physical threats, attacks, and physical pressure and did so with unyielding courage and faith in our democracy. with recount after recount, court case after court case, 2020 election was the most scrutinized election ever in american history. challenge after challenge brought to local, state and election officials, state and federal courts, even to the united states supreme court not once, but twice. more than 80 judges, including
those appointed by my predecessor, heard the arguments. in every case neither cause nor evidence was found to undermine the national achievement of administering this historic election in the face of such extraordinary challenges. audits, recounts were conducted, in arizona, wisconsin. georgia was recounted three times. it is clear, for those who challenge the results and question the integrity of the elections, no other election has ever been held under such scrutiny and such high standards the big lie is just that, a big lie. [applause]
2020 election, it is not hyperbole to suggest it is the most examined, and the fullest expression of the will of the people in the history of this nation. it should be celebrated, an example of america at its best. instead, we continue to see the example of human nature at its worst, something darker and more sinister. in america, if you lose you accept the results, you follow the constitution, you try again. you do not call facts faked and then try to bring down the american experiment because you are unhappy. that is not statesmanship. [applause] that is not statesmanship, that is selfishness. that is not democracy, that is the denial of the rights to
vote. it is subjugating. the denial of a full free and fair election is the most undemocratic, most unpatriotic and not unprecedented. from denying enslaved people full citizenship until the 13th through 15th amendments after the civil war, to denying the women the right to vote, the poll taxes, literacy tests, the klu klux klan, to the supreme court decision and then the decision that weakened the landmark voting rights act, the willful attacks in 2020, and then to a whole other level of
threat, the violence and deadly insurrection on the capitol on january 6. i just got back from europe speaking to the g7 and nato. they wonder, not a joke, they asked me if that going to be ok? the citadel of democracy in the world, is it going to be ok? time and again we have weathered threats to the right to vote and each time we found a way to overcome. that is what we must do today. vice president harris and i have spent our careers doing this work and i asked her to bring people together to protect the right to vote in our democracy. it starts with continuing the fight to pass hr one, the for the people act. [applause]
that bill, that bill would help end voter suppression in the states, yet dark money out of politics, give voice to the people at the grassroots level and create fair district maps and end gerrymandering. last month, republicans opposed even debating, even considering for the people act. senate democrats stood united to protect our democracy. we must pass the for the people act. it is a national imperative. we must also fight for the john lewis voting rights advancement act to restore and expand -- [applause] to restore and expand voting
protections and prevent voter suppression. all the congresswomen and men here, there are a lot of you. just weeks ago the supreme court yet again weakened the voting rights act and upheld what justice kagan called "a significant race-based disparity in voting opportunities." the court's decision, as harmful as it is, does not limit congress' ability to repair the damage done, that is the important point, it puts the burden back on congress to restore it back to its intended strength. as soon as congress passes for the people act and the john lewis voting rights advancement act i will sign it and let the whole world see it. [applause] that will be an important moment. the world is wondering. [applause]
the world is wondering. [applause] and they know what i'm talking about, for real. the world is wondering what is america going to do? we also have to be clear eyed about the obstruction we face. legislation is one tool but not the only tool. it is not the only measure of what we can use to defend democracy. attorney general merrick garland announced that the department of justice will use its authorities to challenge the onslaught of eight undermining voting rights. the focus will be on dismantling racially discriminatory laws like the challenge to georgia's
vicious anti-voting laws. the department of justice will do so. my request it is doubling its size their enforcement status,. civil rights groups and other organizations have announced their plans to stay vigilant and challenge these odious laws in the courts. in texas, for example, state legislature once partisan poll watchers to intimidate voters and impartial poll workers. they want voters to be able to be in a position they wonder who is watching them and intimidating them, to wait longer to vote, to drive a hell of a lot -- excuse me, a long way to get the vote. they want to make it inconvenient that they hope people do not vote at all, that is what this is about.
this year alone 17 states have enacted, not just proposed, but enacted 28 new laws to make it harder for americans to vote, not to mention nearly 400 additional bills, republican members of the state legislatures are trying to pass. the 21st century jim crow assault is real. it is unrelenting, and we are going to challenge it vigorously. [applause] while this broad assault against voting rights is not unprecedented, it is taking on a new and literally pernicious form. it is no longer who gets to vote, or making it easier for eligible voters to vote, it is about who gets to count the votes. who gets to count whether or not
your vote counted at all. it is about moving from independent election administrators who work for the people, to polarized state legislators and partisan actors who work for political parties. to me, this is simple, this is election subversion, the most dangerous threat to voting and the integrity of free and fair elections in our history. never before was it decided who gets to count what votes count. some state legislators want to make it harder for you to vote, and if you vote, they want to be able to tell you that your vote does not count for any reason they make up. they want the ability to reject the final count and ignore the will of the people if their preferred candidate loses. and, they are trying -- i do not
-- not only targeting people of color, but they are targeting voters of all races and backgrounds with a simple target. who did not vote for them, that is the target. it is unconscionable. it is hard to clarify how critical this is. it is simply unconscionable. we have to shore up our election system, not just from abroad, but from home. we must ask those who represent us at the federal, state, and local level, will you deny the will of the people, will you ignore their voices. we have to ask are you on the side of truth or lies, fact or fiction, democracy or autocracy, that is what it is coming down to.
that brings me back to the most important thing we have to do. we have to forge a coalition, americans of every background and political party, the advocates, students, faith leaders and business executives to raise the urgency of this moment, because as much as people know they are screwing around with the election process i do not think most people think it is about who gets to count what vote counts. literally, not figuratively. you vote for certain elect errors to vote for somebody for president, the state legislature comes along and under their proposal they say you do not like those electors and we will appoint another guy or women. here is the deal, in 2020, democracy was put to the test. first by the pandemic, and then by a desperate attempt to deny the reality of the election.
then, by a violent and deadly insurrection on the capitol. i have been around a long time and i thought i had seen it all, or most of it all. i never thought i would see that for real. and, in spite of what you see on television, and you saw it, you had senator saying it was a day at the capital, just people visiting the capital. folks, we met the test, because of the extraordinary courage of elected officials, many of them republicans, our court system, the most brave capitol police officers. because of them, democracy held. look at how close it came, for real. we will face another test in 2022, a new wave of unprecedented voter suppression
and raw and sustained election subversion. we have to prepare now. as i have said time and again, no matter what, can never stop the american people from voting, they will decide in the power must always be with the people. that is why just like we did in 2020 we have to prepare for 2022. we will engage to educate voters about the changing laws, register them to vote and then get the vote out. we will encourage people to run for office themselves at every level. we will be asking my republican friends in congress and states, cities, and counties to stand up and help prevent this concerted effort to undermine our election. [applause] have you no shame?
whether it is stopping foreign interference in our elections or the spread of disinformation from within, we have to work together. vice president harris and i are making it clear that there is real peril in making raw power the centerpiece of life. the founders understood this. the women of seneca falls understood this. the brave foot soldiers of the civil rights movement understood this. so must we. this is not about democrats or republicans, it is literally about who we are as americans, it is that basic. it is about the kind of country that we wants today, the kind of country that we want for our children and grandchildren tomorrow. quite frankly, the whole world is watching. [applause]
folks, i am not being sentimental. i am not -- i am just giving it to you straight, as i promised i would always do. lay things out on the line and honor your trust with trust. so, hear me clearly. there is an unfolding assault taking place in america today, an attempt to suppress and subvert the right to vote in fair and free elections. an assault on democracy, an assault on liberty and who we are as americans. make no mistake, bullies, merchants of fear, and peddlers of lies are threatening the foundation of our country.
it gives me no pleasure to say this. i never thought my entire career i would have to say it, but i swore an oath to you, and god to preserve, protect, and defend the constitution and that is a sacred trust to protect america against threats both foreign and domestic. [applause] the assault on free and fair elections is such a threat, literally, i am 74. we are facing the most significant test of our democracy since the civil war, that is not hyperbole, since the civil war. the confederates back then never reached the capital as insurrectionists did on january 6. i am not saying this to alarm you, i am saying this because you should be alarmed.
i am also saying this, there is good news, it does not have to be this way. it does not have to be, for real. we have the means, we just need the will, the will to save and strengthen our democracy. we did it in 2020. the battle for the soul of america, and in that battle the people voted. democracy prevailed. our constitution held. we have to do it again. my fellow americans, it requires fair mindedness, devotion to justice, love of country, requires us to unite in a common purpose and declare here and now that we the people will never give up. we will not give in, we will overcome. we will do it together.
guaranteeing the right to vote, ensuring every vote is counted has always been the most patriotic thing we can do. just remember, what our late friend john lewis said, freedom is not a state, it is an act. freedom is not a state, it is an act. we will act because our cause is just, our vision is clear, and our hearts are full. we the people, for democracy and america itself, we must act. god bless you all and may god protect our troops and all those who stand watch over democracy. but act, act. thank you. ♪
tells the story of the community of mariners who came to the rescue of thousands. >> the maritime evacuation that delivered nearly half a million people to safety is an incredible example of the goodness of people that, when you are given the opportunity to help, you have the tools, you have the skill set, you have the availability that people over and over again made the choice to put themselves in harm's way for the choice -- for their fellow humans, and that is something we need to continue to remember. >> tonight, at 8 p.m. eastern, on c-span's "q&a." you can also listen as a podcast wherever you get your podcasts.
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so wow is therefore our customers. now more than ever, it all starts with great internet. >> now supports c-span as a public service along with these other television providers. giving you a front row seat to democracy. >> democratic u.s. senators and texas legislators talked with reporters about voting rights, several texas lawmakers are in washington, d.c., after leaving there state to protest the governor's special legislative session to approve several republican bills. >> ok. all right. thank you, everyone. we stand here with these people of courage, with freedom fighters, who
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