After speaking with public sector workers at the AFSCME Public Service Forum at UNLV, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) came to Nate Mack Elementary School in Henderson to speak with supporters, answer their questions, and collect school supplies for students in need. And after another horrific mass shooting attack, this time in El Paso, Harris addressed both the ongoing crisis of gun violence in America and the need for Americans to change this gruesome reality.
As Harris reminded the packed house at Nate Mack Elementary School in Henderson, “We are better than this. This must be a moment when we fight for the best of who we are, and fight we will.”
“They want more than our thoughts and our prayers. They want action. We know that.”
– Kamala Harris
As of Saturday night, 20 died and at least 26 have been injured in El Paso. Police have already identified the suspected shooter and placed him in custody. They are currently reviewing the suspected shooter’s “manifesto,” which thus far points to the shooting as a hate crime targeting immigrants and communities of color.
As news kept trickling in from El Paso, Harris told the crowd, “I think we all know: Enough.” She then added, “What we are seeing, it’s too much. It’s within our grasp to do something about it.” And when someone from the crowd interjected when Harris offered “thoughts and prayers” for El Paso, Harris ultimately concurred, “They want more than our thoughts and our prayers. They want action. We know that.”
Later in the program, Harris touched upon the topic of gun violence again and promised more action to stop it: “So let’s talk about the America we believe in for our children: They will not have to come to school and endure a drill where they’re taught to crouch in a corner or hide in a closet when there’s a mass shooter.” She continued, “It’s causing a trauma to our babies who should we learning.”
Harris then explained her plan of action, which involves an ultimatum to Congress to pass legislation within her first 100 days in office to expand background checks and ban assault weapons along with accessories designed to make guns even more lethal, or else President Kamala Harris will take a series of executive actions to expand background checks and restrict access to assault weapons. Echoing her comments to reporters at the AFSCME Forum earlier in the day, Harris exclaimed, “We don’t lack for good ideas. We lack action. It’s time to take action for the America we believe in.”
“Across the country, we are seeing a rise in hate crimes. That is domestic terrorism. We are seeing a rise in white nationalism. That is domestic terrorism.”
– Kamala Harris
While Harris devoted much of the town hall to discuss the need for solutions to America’s gun violence epidemic, she also addressed another potential issue arising from the El Paso Shooting: “Across the country, we are seeing a rise in hate crimes. That is domestic terrorism. We are seeing a rise in white nationalism. That is domestic terrorism.”
Harris added, “We have to speak truth, even when it is uncomfortable. Racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia are real in this country.” And according to Harris, it does anything but help that the White House is encouraging such bigotry: “He has demeaned and defiled the office of the President of the United States.”
For Harris, “The true measure of strength is not who you beat down, but who you lift up.” And for Harris, this means it’s incumbent upon the nation’s leaders to rebuild the ties that are meant to bind us together as a people: “The vast majority of us have far more in common than what divides us. We have to know that and own that in our hearts and in our souls.”
“I strongly believe you should judge a society based on how it treats its children. […] There’s no greater act of love than to invest in our children’s education, and by extension their teachers.”
– Kamala Harris
Tonight’s town hall was originally billed as an education themed event, and ultimately Harris did engage in a conversation with the packed house at Nate Mack Elementary on the state of public education. As Harris sees it, “In the America we believe in, our teachers are doing god’s work and we’re not paying them enough for their work, and we will correct that.”
Following an introduction by Assembly Members Sandra Jauregui (D-Henderson) and Selena Torres (D-Las Vegas) and State Senator Joyce Woodhouse (D-Henderson), Harris commended the progress made in recent years to fix Nevada’s structural underfunding of public education, but she also subtly acknowledged that this state, her own state, and most other states must do more to do better for all America’s children.
“Our funding mechanism, based on property taxes, is completely upside down,” Harris said. She continued, “The richest people get the greatest resources, and working families get the least, and they’re the ones who have the greatest needs. […] We need to change the way we’re doing funding.”
Harris then promised, “We’re going to close the teacher pay gap with a historic federal investment in our schools.” Under her plan, a major boost in federal funding for public schools will result in an extra $15,000 per year for teachers and additional resources to ensure equity for currently underserved communities. For Harris, “I strongly believe you should judge a society based on how it treats its children.”
“We are better than this. This must be a moment when we fight for the best of who we are, and fight we will.”
– Kamala Harris
At the CNN Debates in Detroit this week, a debate emerged within the debates on “electability” and what it might take for Democrats to defeat Donald Trump next year. On one side, former Vice President Joe Biden and a slew of “centrist white guys” urged caution in developing policy ideas and offered the promise of defeating Trump next year as the big idea to attract voters to their cause of defeating Trump. On the other side, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), and Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) urged the party to offer more than merely beating Trump in order to actually beat Trump by inspiring voters to a greater cause and calling.
Tonight, Kamala Harris placed herself in the latter camp by promising to both prosecute the case against Trump and offer America a better path forward. While she acknowledged, “We’ve got to turn the page, and we also know […] Dude’s gotta go,” Harris also called upon the audience to join her in pursuing the noble cause of making this nation and our world a better place: “It is really important in our march towards 2020 that we remember one of our greatest strengths as a people is that we by our very nature are aspirational. We were founded upon noble ideals.”
As she’s often done, Harris called upon the room to ask, “Who are we?” as Americans, then remember, “We are better than this. This must be a moment when we fight for the best of who we are, and fight we will.” And ultimately, according to Harris, “This is not just a fight for the soul of our country, but also out of love for our country, and it’s a fight we will win!”