From Sen. Mark Warner’s office:
VIDEO: In DPVA Convention Speech Warner Calls 2020 Election Most Important of His Lifetime
Alexandria, VA – Today, U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) spoke at the Democratic Party of Virginia Convention virtually. In his speech, he outlined the stakes of the 2020 election, his priorities in the Senate, and what he has been doing to address the dual crises of the coronavirus pandemic and our country’s reckoning with racial injustice.
- [4:49] “Nothing would be a better homage to the notion of Juneteenth than to pass comprehensive police reform. That’s why I’m very proud to have been an original co-sponsor, along with Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, in the Justice in Policing Act. And it’s my intent, that we get a chance, I hope, even this week, to vote on that legislation. And to try to make it the law of the land so that all Americans can feel that they’re going to be treated fairly, justly — and can see police officers and have a sense of confidence, rather than what we have right now which is a sense of fear for too many of our fellow Americans.”
- [8:48] “This pandemic has exposed the enormous economic inequalities in our system, in our country. It’s why I’m working real time. And this week, again, will lay out a major plan to invest literally billions of dollars in black-owned banks and community development financial institutions. I believe that we can make capitalism fairer and better. But you can’t make capitalism fair or better, particularly for black Americans and brown Americans, unless they have access to capital.
- [14:20] “One of the many, many, many reasons why we need to elect Joe Biden this year to make sure that we get a new occupant in the White House that will bring back the basic decency, the basic values that make us Democrats, but also make us Americans. I know in Virginia with elections every year, we always say this is the most important year. But unequivocally in my 65 years of life, there has never been an election that’s more important.”
- [16:14] “Virginia Democrats, we’ve got a lot of fights in front of us, a lot of struggles in front of us. But if we look back at how far we’ve come over the last two decades, and we’ve seen the possibilities, when we put Democrats in control in Richmond. If we can put Democrats back into control in the White House and in the United States Senate, I believe with all my heart that the best days for Virginia and the best days for our country are ahead of us. So let’s get out there and win.”
The full text of Sen. Warner’s remarks are below:
Well, thank you, Madam Speaker and, boy, Eileen, does that have a nice ring to it? I know I speak on behalf of all of our fellow Virginia Democrats, how proud we are of you what dignity and grace you brought to the role of the speaker and as you’ve just gone through with: elections make differences. When you are able to take back the house and Democrats take back the Senate, the remarkable amount of change that you’ve brought about in Richmond. We couldn’t be prouder of you. Let me start by again welcoming all of the Virginia Democrats to this virtual convention. I hope that everyone is safe and your families are safe, as we go through these remarkable times. I am broadcasting here today from my kitchen where some of you may have seen that I maybe created close to a public health nuisance. A couple of months back, this was the place where I created the magic on my now infamous tuna melt.
And let me again be clear, I would not urge anyone to try that at home. You know, I am listening to Congresswoman Demings, Eileen, Susan, and some of our speakers this morning. I am so proud of Virginia Democrats, and we are a big family. This is a family that I’ve been proud to be part of over the last 30 years. Proud to have been Doug Wilders campaign manager in his historic race back in 1989. Proud to have had the title of being chairperson of the Virginia Democratic Party. Proud to have been your standard-bearer in an unsuccessful race back in 1996 against my very good friend John Warner. Particularly proud of the fact that you entrusted me and my dear friend Tim Kaine as your candidate for governor and lieutenant governor, respectively, back in 2001. And with our victory there that started, in the 21st Century, Virginia Democrats’ comeback across the Commonwealth and across the country. As I think over the last four years, there is so much work that you’ve done so much that we should be proud of. The fact that in 2016, we were smart enough in Virginia to vote for Hillary Clinton. In 2017, for the first time in literally decades, Virginia Democrats swept all three statewide offices. In 2018, we picked up three great congress members in Elaine and Abigail and Jennifer. And in 2019, we made Eileen Filler-Corn speaker, the first woman speaker in Virginia’s history, all of that because of the incredible hard work that you, who are watching and participating in this convention, and literally millions of other Virginians — the work we put in to make positive change in our Commonwealth. Now, I am very proud, officially today, to once again be your standard-bearer for the United States Senate. And I accept your nomination. I’m proud to receive it. And I promise you, I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that we hold this Virginia Senate seat as a Democratic senate seat. My hope as well is that this is going to be the year, as everyone has indicated, where we are going to elect Joe Biden. We’re either get rid of Mitch McConnell, or at the very least make him minority leader. And we’re going to be able, I think, right here in Virginia to build upon our now majority democratic delegation in the House.
So I really, thank you for the work that you will do in these coming months. I know the topic that’s probably on most of our minds right now is the effect of the pandemic. And in many ways this pandemic whether we’re talking about healthcare crisis, an economic crisis, exposure of some of the racial and justices and systemic racism that we’ve seen around policing.
In a way this pandemic is almost like an X-ray. And I want to take a moment and speak about each of these three topics of how we have to grapple with the healthcare crisis. How we have to grapple with the racial injustice crisis. And how we have to grapple with the economic crisis and why I’m asking you to help me get me rehired so I can continue this work in the United States Senate. On the health care crisis, we know with close to 120,000 of our fellow Americans killed by the virus, we’ve seen ineptness coming out of this administration in terms of the managing and supply of the PPE and testing. We can and must do better in this country. We need to make sure that we make the CDC once again the envy of public health organizations around the world, rather than constantly being behind as we’ve been with the Coronavirus. It’s why I’ve taken the lead amongst all the Democrats in the Senate in making sure that we try to build upon and expand the Affordable Care Act, to exclude the kind of sale of junk health care plans that are out there. In many cases, luring in Virginians, oftentimes Virginians of color, to buy health care plans that when they get sick don’t provide any kind of health insurance at all. It’s why I want to continue the fight as well to bring down the price of prescription drugs and allow the United States government to have the same ability to negotiate drug prices as other countries provide for their citizens. It’s why I want to make sure as well that we build upon one of the silver linings that has come out of the pandemic. And that is that we greatly continue to expand telehealth opportunities all across Virginia and all across the country. We need to do so much more in health care. And if I’m re-elected to the Senate, I’m going to continue the fight to expand the ACA and make sure that healthcare is actually affordable for all Virginians and all Americans. The second part of what this pandemic has exposed, with the murder of George Floyd and so many other black Americans, is the absolute incumbent need to do comprehensive reform of our policing system.
Last night, I was at the First Baptist Church in Vienna where we held a celebration but also a reflection upon Juneteenth. Nothing would be a better homage to the notion of Juneteenth than to pass comprehensive police reform. That’s why I’m very proud to have been an original co-sponsor, along with Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, in the Justice In Policing Act. And it’s my intent, that we get a chance, I hope, even this week, to vote on that legislation. And to try to make it the law of the land so that all Americans can feel that they’re going to be treated fairly, justly — and can see police officers and have a sense of confidence, rather than what we have right now which is sense of fear for too many of our fellow Americans. This pandemic has exposed the enormous economic inequalities in our system, in our country. It’s why I’m working real time. And this week, again, will lay out a major plan to invest literally billions of dollars in black-owned banks and community development financial institutions. I believe that we can make capitalism fairer and better. But you can’t make capitalism fair or better, particularly for black Americans and brown Americans, unless they have access to capital. And I commit to make sure that in the next Covid-package, we make a major investment in those institutions that will lend and provide that capital that’s needed in minority communities and low-income communities across America.
It’s why as well I want to get rehired to this job to do much more major changes to our economic system. As some of you know, over the last few years, I’ve been working on a whole new theory about how our economic system ought to work.
I’m not going to go through it all right now, but very briefly, let me talk about three points that I want to work on, if you give me the honor of continuing as your senator. I want to make sure that no matter what kind of work you do in America that with every hour you work you also get benefits that go with that work. And those benefits ought to attach you. They ought to be portable. Just as we’ve expanded unemployment insurance, we need to make sure that we greatly expand the whole social contract so that whether you’re a part-time worker or a gig worker with work — and the dignity of work — should also come the dignity of benefits: health, retirement and other support. I believe, as well, we need a fundamental transition on how we view investment in human beings. We have a tax code right now that is way too stacked towards investing in things, rather than investing in people. Why should a company get a tax break for buying a robot, but not for training a human to be more efficient than a robot. We need dramatic change in how we view investments in this country. And frankly, as somebody who benefited from our system, I think the capitalism that is running rampant in America today often is focused so much only on short-term profits. Ultimately, it will destroy that economic engine of job growth. We need a capitalism in America that is about stakeholder capitalism where, yes, businesses can make money but they can also invest in people and in their communities.
So I desperately want to be rehired to work on these items. I also want to build on the issue, as Eileen mentioned, work that we’ve been doing on climate change. This really is, again, the issue of our time. And part of that work on climate change will be building on the legislation I worked on for three years that passed with 73 votes this week in the Senate, where we finally have made the biggest investment in a generation in restoring our parks and expanding access to our Land and Water Conservation Fund. So that’s another area where I want to get rehired and continue working. I also, as many of you know, I’m very active in the technology area. That was where my business was. We are seeing a transition to a digital economy. If we’re going to make that transition fairly, we need to make sure that ubiquitous broadband is a reality, no matter where you live in Virginia.
We’ve got to make sure as well that we put appropriate rules on our social media companies. We should not be at the whim of Mark Zuckerberg in terms of what we see or hear oftentimes being flat out lies if they come from the mouth of a politician on platforms like Facebook. I also want to continue to build on my work in the intelligence community, where I see the challenges of a rising China, but I realize we have to compete with that alternative vision, not only based upon our economic and military strength but based upon our values and our strong alliances. Things again, that we know have disappeared under this president. When we talk about values, and I’ll close in a moment, I was thinking back earlier this month. June 4th was the 31st anniversary of the protests in Tiananmen Square, when the Chinese people rose up against the Communist Chinese leadership. And the image that I most remember from those protests 31 years ago was a young student standing in front of a tank, willing to sacrifice his life for freedom.
Fast forward to maybe the most vivid memory that has come out of the protests that have appropriately taken place all across our country — thirty years later was the image of Donald Trump trying to use our military to clear away peaceful American protesters, so we could walk over to St. John’s Church, the very church where Lisa and I got married 31 years ago, to hold a Bible for a photo-op. We are a better country. We are a better people than that kind of propaganda that came out of Donald Trump. One of the many, many, many reasons why we need to elect Joe Biden this year to make sure that we get a new occupant in the White House that will bring back the basic decency, the basic values that make us Democrats, but also make us Americans. I know in Virginia with elections every year, we always say this is the most important year. But unequivocally in my 65 years of life, there has never been an election that’s more important. And while we’ve got wind on our back in Virginia, I also have to just acknowledge that I’m forever scarred by 2014. We cannot take anything for granted in Virginia. We know the Trump campaign will target Virginia. I know that my opponent will be decided in the Republican primary on Tuesday, and they will say anything and do anything to try to take back this Senate seat. So we are going to need to work together on a coordinated campaign with Joe Biden at the top; me leading on the senate level; and then great, great incumbents. And I believe in the possibilities of picking up a couple of additional seats this year, if we all turn out and tune in.
It’s going to be a different kind of election. Because of the good work of Eileen, Dick Saslaw and Gov. Northam. We’ve got much better, more efficient voting laws in Virginia. We’ve got the possibility of voting by mail. We’ve got the possibility of early voting. We’ve got Election Day being a holiday. But it’s going to mean, particularly with the challenges the pandemic may still pose, we’re going to have to get our voters to the polls earlier. We’re going to have to contact them in potentially unorthodox ways, and we’re going to need your time, your energy and your support to get this done.
Virginia Democrats, we’ve got a lot of fights in front of us, a lot of struggles in front of us. But if we look back at how far we’ve come over the last two decades, and we’ve seen the possibilities, when we put Democrats in control in Richmond. If we can put Democrats back into control in the White House and in the United States Senate, I believe with all my heart that the best days for Virginia and the best days for our country are ahead of us.
So let’s get out there and win. Thank you for participating in today’s state convention. And I look forward to actually doing this shortly with you as soon as possible, in person. Thank you so much, Virginia Democrats.