As the two presidential campaigns enter the election’s final hours, focus has shifted to grassroots organizations’ activities in battleground states.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris visited the Beasley School of Law on Thursday, Nov. 1, on behalf of President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign to mobilize his supporters into action.
After introductory remarks from Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, who is also an adjunct professor atTemple, Harris took the stage in Klein Hall to address more than 50 attendees composed of law students, alumni and community members.
“The outcome of the election can come down to a few votes in a swing state,” Harris said. “What you do in the next [few] days is going to have everything to do with the outcome of this election.”
During the half-hour presentation, Harris urged the audience to reach out to their communities in order to increase voter turnout.
“There are two things that give constituencies power in politics, unfortunately,” Harris said. “The ability to write a check or turning out to vote”
“Vote is the expression of one’s voice. Make sure everyone knows that their voice matters, take the role of leadership,” Harris added.
Outside of voter turnout, Harris spoke about how the election is framed in terms of public policy, not just the re-election of the president.
In relation to students, Harris described how the president has dealt with student debt by doubling the funding for Pell Grants. She then touched on the issue of personal choice, and how individual should be able to make decision about their own bodies and lives.
“Do we want a society that tells us that we are not capable of making a decision, that it would [be] made for us?” Harris said.
In this regard, Harris asked law students to reflect upon the power of the president to appoint Supreme Court justices, its impact on public policy and the likelihood of new appointments in the next four years.
Toward the end of the presentation, Harris responded to questions from law students about her legal career and the merits of public service.
“Whatever you decide to do with your legal career,” Harris said. “Be engaged and involved, you always have to recommit yourself to be a fighter for civil rights.”
When asked about the status of the country since President George Bush’s administration, Harris said problems cannot be corrected overnight.
“It takes a while between an action and the evidence of that to take hold,” Harris said. “Don’t go back to policies that failed us, but also go forward in continuation with the plan that is going to take us in the correct course.”
Dylan Morpurgo, president of Temple College Democrats, said the presentation was “inspiring” and also highlighted the organization’s mobilization efforts in the last days before the election.
Laura Ordonez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.