As the United States awaits the final tallies of ballots cast in states for the 2022 midterm elections, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris held a post-election rally at The Howard Theatre to discuss the pending results and to thank voters.
The president and vice president were accompanied by their spouses, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, and second gentleman, Doug Emhoff. The event was organized by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and included members of the community as well as Howard students and faculty. The event took place on Nov. 10.
The pivotal 2022 midterm elections were extremely close and, despite the possibility of the often discussed “red wave,” CNN reports that neither party held an advantage in terms of its image and perception among voters, as about 40 percent of voters held a favorable view of both the Democratic and Republican parties.
The audience was filled with young voters of Gen Z and young millennials, both groups that Biden and Harris made sure to give appreciation to for the Democrats’ significantly better performance in the midterms than had been forecasted.
Destiny Daniel, a junior public relations major at Howard, was very excited to see both the president and vice president, and says she feels “rewarded knowing all the work young people are doing to make a difference.”
“We’re strong voters, and we’re really pushing out the vote, managing to lessen voter suppression. We’re pushing for reproductive rights, climate justice and all types of different things, and I’m very excited for our future,” Daniel said.
Another student, Kayla McKenzie who studies political science, says that hearing both Biden and Harris was something she really needed “to be inspired to participate” in her government and voting.
Vice President Harris issued her remarks before President Biden and embraced the Howard community as students, alumni and faculty in attendance chanted as the Vice President began her speech. “You know!” she began, as the crowd responded “H-U, you know” celebrating Harris’ status as a Howard alumna.
As the first alumni from a historically Black college and university to serve as U.S. vice president, Harris has continuously embraced her alma mater and recently participated in a fireside chat at Howard that discussed the elections and the importance of reproductive rights.
“This is why we’re here today because of this energy, commitment, passion and love of our country. The people in this room and around the country worked hard this election and voters sent a message to the entire world that our democracy is intact,” Vice President Harris said.
“Young people, seniors, parents, children and so many working people made their voices heard. Thank you for working the long hours and the late nights and for protecting voting rights on behalf of every American,” she continued.
According to research from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University, the 2022 election had the second-highest voter turnout among young people in the last 30 years. The Hill reported that about 27 percent of young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 are estimated to have voted.
“Thank you for fighting for rights and freedoms that will make our country more fair, safe and stronger. You are not fighting alone because our President understands democracy is only as strong as our willingness to fight for it,” Vice President Harris said.
In his remarks, President Biden also expressed his gratitude for the voting U.S. population and those that helped work the polls.
“On behalf of Jill and myself, I want to say ‘thank you’ from the bottom of my heart, this is not a joke or political piece,” Biden said.
In the 2022 elections, Democratic candidates for governor won major victories in states such as Kansas, Maryland, New York and Wisconsin. Many Democratic incumbents held their offices despite challenges from Republicans and expectations of a red wave.
“Despite the threats and abuses to many election officials on Election Day, you did your job and showed up, and so did the American people,” President Biden said.
Anfernee Osandu, the staff assistant for Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen, said he is very grateful and proud that young people made their voices heard, especially when it comes to climate change.
“There really is a lot at stake especially for us younger people. Climate change is a huge concern because we’re the ones who are ultimately going to have to live on this earth and deal with these repercussions if the people older than us do not get their act together,” Osandu said.
Also in attendance was a Howard alumna and former Howard lecturer, Dr. Jean Purchas- Tulloch, who said that it was a “mind-blowing experience.” She says that both abortion and healthcare are the most important issues for her.
“After that, we can become employed, but if we are unhealthy and we have people deciding our fate as women regarding childbearing…I think women need to be able to decide what we are capable of doing without bodies,” Purchas- Tulloch said.
She also spoke about the great impact of young voters.
“It is for them to work out a path for their futures and the futures of their children and the generations to come,” she said.
As he greeted attendees who eagerly awaited in anticipation for the President and Vice President, DNC Chair Jaime Harrison expressed gratitude to the leadership present and proclaimed that the work of voters was not done.
“President Biden, Vice President Harris, First Lady Jill Biden and second gentleman, Doug Emhoff, traveled all over the country to fundraise and campaign for Democrats, and we met this moment with grit, determination and strength,” he said.
“We have more results that have yet to come in and a runoff election in Georgia that we have to win. We’re going to keep fighting, hoping and working to protect our freedoms and future” Harrison continued.
Republicans now have control of the U.S. House of Representatives and Democrats reclaimed their Senate majority with the chance of increasing by one seat for the upcoming Georgia Senate runoff race. Georgians will head back to the polls on Dec. 6 for that race since neither Sen. Raphael Warnock, the Democratic candidate, nor Herschel Walker, the Republican candidate, obtained the 50 percent required to win outright on Nov. 8.
Copy edited by Nhandi Long-Shipman