Joe Biden and Kamala Harris mark the anniversary of January 6th
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris mark the anniversary of January 6th (Official White House photo)

Edi­tor’s Note: On spe­cial occa­sions, such as today, the one year anniver­sary of the Jan­u­ary 6th attack on the Unit­ed States Capi­tol by Don­ald Trump’s insur­rec­tion­ist mob, NPI has a long­stand­ing tra­di­tion of pub­lish­ing tran­scripts of rel­e­vant speech­es such as those deliv­ered by Pres­i­dent Joe Biden and Vice Pres­i­dent Kamala Har­ris this morn­ing. We hope you’ll read these incred­i­bly impor­tant speech­es. You can also watch using the media play­er below. 

VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS: Fel­low Amer­i­cans, good morning.

Cer­tain dates echo through­out his­to­ry, includ­ing dates that instant­ly remind all who have lived through them — where they were and what they were doing when our democ­ra­cy came under assault.

Dates that occu­py not only a place on our cal­en­dars, but a place in our col­lec­tive mem­o­ry. Decem­ber 7th, 1941. Sep­tem­ber 11th, 2001. And Jan­u­ary 6th, 2021.

On that day, I was not only Vice Pres­i­dent-elect, I was also a Unit­ed States sen­a­tor. And I was here at the Capi­tol that morn­ing, at a clas­si­fied hear­ing with fel­low mem­bers of the Sen­ate Intel­li­gence Committee.

Hours lat­er, the gates of the Capi­tol were breached.

I had left. But my thoughts imme­di­ate­ly turned not only to my col­leagues, but to my staff, who had been forced to seek refuge in our office, con­vert­ing fil­ing cab­i­nets into barricades.

What the extrem­ists who roamed these halls tar­get­ed was not only the lives of elect­ed lead­ers. What they sought to degrade and destroy was not only a build­ing, hal­lowed as it is. What they were assault­ing were the insti­tu­tions, the val­ues, the ideals that gen­er­a­tions of Amer­i­cans have marched, pick­et­ed, and shed blood to estab­lish and defend.

On Jan­u­ary 6th, we all saw what our nation would look like if the forces who seek to dis­man­tle our democ­ra­cy are successful.

The law­less­ness, the vio­lence, the chaos.

What was at stake then, and now, is the right to have our future decid­ed the way the Con­sti­tu­tion pre­scribes it: by we, the peo­ple — all the people.

We can­not let our future be decid­ed by those bent on silenc­ing our voic­es, over­turn­ing our votes, and ped­dling lies and mis­in­for­ma­tion; by some rad­i­cal fac­tion that may be new­ly resur­gent but whose roots run old and deep.

When I meet with young peo­ple, they often ask about the state of our democ­ra­cy, about Jan­u­ary 6th. And what I tell them is: Jan­u­ary 6th reflects the dual nature of democ­ra­cy — its fragili­ty and its strength.

You see, the strength of democ­ra­cy is the rule of law. The strength of democ­ra­cy is the prin­ci­ple that every­one should be treat­ed equal­ly, that elec­tions should be free and fair, that cor­rup­tion should be giv­en no quarter.

The strength of democ­ra­cy is that it empow­ers the people.

And the fragili­ty of democ­ra­cy is this: that if we are not vig­i­lant, if we do not defend it, democ­ra­cy sim­ply will not stand; it will fal­ter and fail.

The vio­lent assault that took place here, the very fact of how close we came to an elec­tion over­turned — that reflects the fragili­ty of democracy.

Yet, the resolve I saw in our elect­ed lead­ers when I returned to the Sen­ate cham­ber that night — their resolve not to yield but to cer­ti­fy the elec­tion; their loy­al­ty not to par­ty or per­son but to the Con­sti­tu­tion of the Unit­ed States — that reflects its strength.

And so, of course, does the hero­ism of the Capi­tol Police, the D.C. Met­ro­pol­i­tan Police Depart­ment, the Nation­al Guard, and oth­er law enforce­ment offi­cers who answered the call that day, includ­ing those who lat­er suc­cumbed to wounds, both vis­i­ble and invisible.

Our thoughts are with all of the fam­i­lies who have lost a loved one.

You know, I won­der, how will Jan­u­ary 6th come to be remem­bered in the years ahead? Will it be remem­bered as a moment that accel­er­at­ed the unrav­el­ing of the old­est, great­est democ­ra­cy in the world or a moment when we decid­ed to secure and strength­en our democ­ra­cy for gen­er­a­tions to come?

The Amer­i­can spir­it is being tested.

The answer to whether we will meet that test resides where it always has resided in our coun­try — with you, the peo­ple. And the work ahead will not be easy.

Here, in this very build­ing, a deci­sion will be made about whether we uphold the right to vote and ensure free and fair election.

Let’s be clear: We must pass the vot­ing rights bills that are now before the Sen­ate, and the Amer­i­can peo­ple must also do some­thing more.

We can­not sit on the side­lines. We must unite in defense of our democ­ra­cy in order to form a more per­fect union, estab­lish jus­tice, ensure domes­tic tran­quil­i­ty, pro­vide for the com­mon defense, pro­mote the gen­er­al wel­fare, and secure the bless­ings of lib­er­ty to our­selves and to our pros­per­i­ty and posterity.

That is the pre­am­ble of the Con­sti­tu­tion that Pres­i­dent Biden and I swore an oath to uphold and defend. And that is the endur­ing promise of the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca. My fel­low Amer­i­cans, it is my hon­or to intro­duce a pub­lic ser­vant with the char­ac­ter and for­ti­tude to meet this moment, a leader whose life’s work has been mov­ing our nation toward that more per­fect union: Pres­i­dent Joe Biden.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Madam Vice Pres­i­dent, my fel­low Americans:

To state the obvi­ous, one year ago today, in this sacred place, democ­ra­cy was attacked — sim­ply attacked. The will of the peo­ple was under assault. The Con­sti­tu­tion — our Con­sti­tu­tion — faced the gravest of threats.

Out­num­bered and in the face of a bru­tal attack, the Capi­tol Police, the D.C. Met­ro­pol­i­tan Police Depart­ment, the Nation­al Guard, and oth­er brave law enforce­ment offi­cials saved the rule of law.

Our democ­ra­cy held. We the peo­ple endured. And we the peo­ple prevailed.

For the first time in our his­to­ry, a pres­i­dent had not just lost an elec­tion, he tried to pre­vent the peace­ful trans­fer of pow­er as a vio­lent mob breached the Capitol.

But they failed. They failed.

And on this day of remem­brance, we must make sure that such an attack nev­er, nev­er hap­pens again.

I’m speak­ing to you today from Stat­u­ary Hall in the Unit­ed States Capi­tol. This is where the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives met for 50 years in the decades lead­ing up to the Civ­il War. This is — on this floor is where a young con­gress­man of Illi­nois, Abra­ham Lin­coln, sat at desk 191.

Above him — above us, over that door lead­ing into the Rotun­da — is a sculp­ture depict­ing Clio, the muse of his­to­ry. In her hands, an open book in which she records the events tak­ing place in this cham­ber below.

Clio stood watch over this hall one year ago today, as she has for more than 200 years. She record­ed what took place. The real his­to­ry. The real facts. The real truth. The facts and the truth that Vice Pres­i­dent Har­ris just shared and that you and I and the whole world saw with our own eyes.

The Bible tells us that we shall know the truth, and the truth shall make us free. We shall know the truth.

Well, here is the God’s truth about Jan­u­ary 6th, 2021:

Close your eyes. Go back to that day. What do you see? Riot­ers ram­pag­ing, wav­ing for the first time inside this Capi­tol a Con­fed­er­ate flag that sym­bol­ized the cause to destroy Amer­i­ca, to rip us apart.

Even dur­ing the Civ­il War, that nev­er, ever hap­pened. But it hap­pened here in 2021. What else do you see? A mob break­ing win­dows, kick­ing in doors, breach­ing the Capi­tol. Amer­i­can flags on poles being used as weapons, as spears. Fire extin­guish­ers being thrown at the heads of police officers.

A crowd that pro­fess­es their love for law enforce­ment assault­ed those police offi­cers, dragged them, sprayed them, stomped on them.

Over 140 police offi­cers were injured.

We’ve all heard the police offi­cers who were there that day tes­ti­fy to what hap­pened. One offi­cer called it, quote, a med- — “medieval” bat­tle, and that he was more afraid that day than he was fight­ing the war in Iraq.

They’ve repeat­ed­ly asked since that day: How dare any­one — any­one — dimin­ish, belit­tle, or deny the hell they were put through?

We saw it with our own eyes. Riot­ers men­aced these halls, threat­en­ing the life of the Speak­er of the House, lit­er­al­ly erect­ing gal­lows to hang the Vice Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States of America.

But what did we not see?

We didn’t see a for­mer pres­i­dent, who had just ral­lied the mob to attack — sit­ting in the pri­vate din­ing room off the Oval Office in the White House, watch­ing it all on tele­vi­sion and doing noth­ing for hours as police were assault­ed, lives at risk, and the nation’s cap­i­tal under siege.

This wasn’t a group of tourists. This was an armed insurrection.

They weren’t look­ing to uphold the will of the peo­ple. They were look­ing to deny the will of the peo­ple. They were look­ing to uphold — they weren’t look­ing to uphold a free and fair elec­tion. They were look­ing to over­turn one.

They weren’t look­ing to save the cause of Amer­i­ca. They were look­ing to sub­vert the Constitution.

This isn’t about being bogged down in the past.

This is about mak­ing sure the past isn’t buried.

That’s the only way for­ward. That’s what great nations do. They don’t bury the truth, they face up to it. Sounds like hyper­bole, but that’s the truth: They face up to it. We are a great nation.

My fel­low Amer­i­cans, in life, there’s truth and, trag­i­cal­ly, there are lies — lies con­ceived and spread for prof­it and power.

We must be absolute­ly clear about what is true and what is a lie.

And here is the truth: The for­mer pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca has cre­at­ed and spread a web of lies about the 2020 elec­tion. He’s done so because he val­ues pow­er over prin­ci­ple, because he sees his own inter­ests as more impor­tant than his country’s inter­ests and Amer­i­ca’s inter­ests, and because his bruised ego mat­ters more to him than our democ­ra­cy or our Constitution.

He can’t accept he lost, even though that’s what 93 Unit­ed States sen­a­tors, his own Attor­ney Gen­er­al, his own Vice Pres­i­dent, gov­er­nors and state offi­cials in every bat­tle­ground state have all said: He lost.

That’s what 81 mil­lion of you did as you vot­ed for a new way forward.

He has done what no pres­i­dent in Amer­i­can his­to­ry — the his­to­ry of this coun­try — has ever, ever done: He refused to accept the results of an elec­tion and the will of the Amer­i­can people.

While some coura­geous men and women in the Repub­li­can Par­ty are stand­ing against it, try­ing to uphold the prin­ci­ples of that par­ty, too many oth­ers are trans­form­ing that par­ty into some­thing else. They seem no longer to want to be the par­ty — the par­ty of Lin­coln, Eisen­how­er, Rea­gan, the Bushes.

But what­ev­er my oth­er dis­agree­ments are with Repub­li­cans who sup­port the rule of law and not the rule of a sin­gle man, I will always seek to work togeth­er with them to find shared solu­tions where pos­si­ble. Because if we have a shared belief in democ­ra­cy, then any­thing is pos­si­ble — anything.

And so, at this moment, we must decide: What kind of nation are we going to be?

Are we going to be a nation that accepts polit­i­cal vio­lence as a norm?

Are we going to be a nation where we allow par­ti­san elec­tion offi­cials to over­turn the legal­ly expressed will of the people?

Are we going to be a nation that lives not by the light of the truth but in the shad­ow of lies?

We can­not allow our­selves to be that kind of nation. The way for­ward is to rec­og­nize the truth and to live by it. The Big Lie being told by the for­mer pres­i­dent and many Repub­li­cans who fear his wrath is that the insur­rec­tion in this coun­try actu­al­ly took place on Elec­tion Day — Novem­ber 3rd, 2020.

Think about that.

Is that what you thought? Is that what you thought when you vot­ed that day? Tak­ing part in an insur­rec­tion? Is that what you thought you were doing? Or did you think you were car­ry­ing out your high­est duty as a cit­i­zen and voting?

The for­mer pres­i­dent and his sup­port­ers are try­ing to rewrite his­to­ry. They want you to see Elec­tion Day as the day of insur­rec­tion and the riot that took place here on Jan­u­ary 6th as the true expres­sion of the will of the people.

Can you think of a more twist­ed way to look at this coun­try — to look at America?

I can­not.

Here’s the truth: The elec­tion of 2020 was the great­est demon­stra­tion of democ­ra­cy in the his­to­ry of this country.

More of you vot­ed in that elec­tion than have ever vot­ed in all of Amer­i­can his­to­ry. Over 150 mil­lion Amer­i­cans went to the polls and vot­ed that day in a pan­dem­ic — some at grea- — great risk to their lives. They should be applaud­ed, not attacked.

Right now, in state after state, new laws are being writ­ten — not to pro­tect the vote, but to deny it; not only to sup­press the vote, but to sub­vert it; not to strength­en or pro­tect our democ­ra­cy, but because the for­mer pres­i­dent lost.

Instead of look­ing at the elec­tion results from 2020 and say­ing they need new ideas or bet­ter ideas to win more votes, the for­mer pres­i­dent and his sup­port­ers have decid­ed the only way for them to win is to sup­press your vote and sub­vert our elec­tions. It’s wrong. It’s unde­mo­c­ra­t­ic. And frankly, it’s un-American.

The sec­ond Big Lie being told by the for­mer Pres­i­dent and his sup­port­ers is that the results of the elec­tion of 2020 can’t be trusted.

The truth is that no elec­tion — no elec­tion in Amer­i­can his­to­ry has been more close­ly scru­ti­nized or more care­ful­ly counted.

Every legal chal­lenge ques­tion­ing the results in every court in this coun­try that could have been made was made and was reject­ed — often reject­ed by Repub­li­can-appoint­ed judges, includ­ing judges appoint­ed by the for­mer pres­i­dent him­self, from state courts to the Unit­ed States Supreme Court.

Recounts were under­tak­en in state after state. Geor­gia — Geor­gia count­ed its results three times, with one recount by hand.

Pho­ny par­ti­san audits were under­tak­en long after the elec­tion in sev­er­al states. None changed the results. And in some of them, the irony is the mar­gin of vic­to­ry actu­al­ly grew slightly.

So, let’s speak plain­ly about what hap­pened in 2020. Even before the first bal­lot was cast, the for­mer pres­i­dent was pre­emp­tive­ly sow­ing doubt about the elec­tion results. He built his lie over months. It wasn’t based on any facts. He was just look­ing for an excuse — a pre­text — to cov­er for the truth.

He’s not just a for­mer pres­i­dent. He’s a defeat­ed for­mer pres­i­dent — defeat­ed by a mar­gin of over 7 mil­lion of your votes in a full and free and fair election.

There is sim­ply zero proof the elec­tion results were inaccurate.

In fact, in every venue where evi­dence had to be pro­duced and an oath to tell the truth had to be tak­en, the for­mer pres­i­dent failed to make his case.

Just think about this: The for­mer pres­i­dent and his sup­port­ers have nev­er been able to explain how they accept as accu­rate the oth­er elec­tion results that took place on Novem­ber 3rd — the elec­tions for gov­er­nor, Unit­ed States Sen­ate, the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives — elec­tions in which they closed the gap in the House.

They chal­lenge none of that. The Pres­i­den­t’s name was first, then we went down the line — gov­er­nors, sen­a­tors, House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Some­how, those results were accu­rate on the same bal­lot, but the pres­i­den­tial race was flawed?

And on the same bal­lot, the same day, cast by the same voters.

The only dif­fer­ence: The for­mer Pres­i­dent didn’t lose those races; he just lost the one that was his own.

Final­ly, the third Big Lie being told by a for­mer Pres­i­dent and his sup­port­ers is that the mob who sought to impose their will through vio­lence are the nation’s true patriots.

Is that what you thought when you looked at the mob ran­sack­ing the Capi­tol, destroy­ing prop­er­ty, lit­er­al­ly defe­cat­ing in the hall­ways, rifling through desks of sen­a­tors and rep­re­sen­ta­tives, hunt­ing down mem­bers of congress?

Patri­ots? Not in my view.

To me, the true patri­ots were the more than 150 [mil­lion] Amer­i­cans who peace­ful­ly expressed their vote at the bal­lot box, the elec­tion work­ers who pro­tect­ed the integri­ty of the vote, and the heroes who defend­ed this Capitol.

You can’t love your coun­try only when you win.

You can’t obey the law only when it’s convenient.

You can’t be patri­ot­ic when you embrace and enable lies.

Those who stormed this Capi­tol and those who insti­gat­ed and incit­ed and those who called on them to do so held a dag­ger at the throat of Amer­i­ca — at Amer­i­can democracy.

They didn’t come here out of patri­o­tism or prin­ci­ple. They came here in rage — not in ser­vice of Amer­i­ca, but rather in ser­vice of one man.

Those who incit­ed the mob — the real plot­ters — who were des­per­ate to deny the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the elec­tion and defy the will of the voters.

But their plot was foiled. Con­gress­men — Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans — stayed. Sen­a­tors, rep­re­sen­ta­tives, staff — they fin­ished their work the Con­sti­tu­tion demand­ed. They hon­ored their oath to defend the Con­sti­tu­tion against all ene­mies, for­eign and domestic.

Look, folks, now it’s up to all of us — to “We the Peo­ple” — to stand for the rule of law, to pre­serve the flame of democ­ra­cy, to keep the promise of Amer­i­ca alive.

That promise is at risk, tar­get­ed by the forces that val­ue brute strength over the sanc­ti­ty of democ­ra­cy, fear over hope, per­son­al gain over pub­lic good.

Make no mis­take about it: We’re liv­ing at an inflec­tion point in history.

Both at home and abroad, we’re engaged anew in a strug­gle between democ­ra­cy and autoc­ra­cy, between the aspi­ra­tions of the many and the greed of the few, between the people’s right of self-deter­mi­na­tion and self- — the self-seek­ing autocrat.

From Chi­na to Rus­sia and beyond, they’re bet­ting that democracy’s days are num­bered. They’ve actu­al­ly told me democ­ra­cy is too slow, too bogged down by divi­sion to suc­ceed in today’s rapid­ly chang­ing, com­pli­cat­ed world.

And they’re bet­ting — they’re bet­ting Amer­i­ca will become more like them and less like us. They’re bet­ting that Amer­i­ca is a place for the auto­crat, the dic­ta­tor, the strong­man. I do not believe that. That is not who we are. That is not who we have ever been. And that is not who we should ever, ever be.

Our Found­ing Fathers, as imper­fect as they were, set in motion an exper­i­ment that changed the world — lit­er­al­ly changed the world.

Here in Amer­i­ca, the peo­ple would rule, pow­er would be trans­ferred peace­ful­ly — nev­er at the tip of a spear or the bar­rel of a gun. And they com­mit­ted to paper an idea that couldn’t live up to — they couldn’t live up to but an idea that couldn’t be con­strained: Yes, in Amer­i­ca all peo­ple are cre­at­ed equal.

We reject the view that if you suc­ceed, I fail; if you get ahead, I fall behind; if I hold you down, I some­how lift myself up.

The for­mer Pres­i­dent, who lies about this elec­tion, and the mob that attacked this Capi­tol could not be fur­ther away from the core Amer­i­can values.

They want to rule or they will ruin — ruin what our coun­try fought for at Lex­ing­ton and Con­cord; at Get­tys­burg; at Oma­ha Beach; Seneca Falls; Sel­ma, Alaba­ma. What — and what we were fight­ing for: the right to vote, the right to gov­ern our­selves, the right to deter­mine our own destiny.

And with rights come respon­si­bil­i­ties: the respon­si­bil­i­ty to see each oth­er as neigh­bors — maybe we dis­agree with that neigh­bor, but they’re not an adver­sary; the respon­si­bil­i­ty to accept defeat then get back in the are­na and try again the next time to make your case; the respon­si­bil­i­ty to see that Amer­i­ca is an idea — an idea that requires vig­i­lant stewardship.

As we stand here today — one year since Jan­u­ary 6th, 2021 — the lies that drove the anger and mad­ness we saw in this place, they have not abated.

So, we have to be firm, res­olute, and unyield­ing in our defense of the right to vote and to have that vote counted.

Some have already made the ulti­mate sac­ri­fice in this sacred effort.

Jill and I have mourned police offi­cers in this Capi­tol Rotun­da not once but twice in the wake of Jan­u­ary 6th: once to hon­or Offi­cer Bri­an Sick­nick, who lost his life the day after the attack, and a sec­ond time to hon­or Offi­cer Bil­ly Evans, who lost his life defend­ing this Capi­tol as well.

We think about the oth­ers who lost their lives and were injured and every­one liv­ing with the trau­ma of that day — from those defend­ing this Capi­tol to mem­bers of Con­gress in both par­ties and their staffs, to reporters, cafe­te­ria work­ers, cus­to­di­al work­ers, and their families.

Don’t kid your­self: The pain and scars from that day run deep.

I said it many times and it’s no more true or real than when we think about the events of Jan­u­ary 6th: We are in a bat­tle for the soul of America.

A bat­tle that, by the grace of God and the good­ness and gra­cious — and great­ness of this nation, we will win. Believe me, I know how dif­fi­cult democ­ra­cy is. And I’m crys­tal clear about the threats Amer­i­ca faces.

But I also know that our dark­est days can lead to light and hope.

From the death and destruc­tion, as the Vice Pres­i­dent ref­er­enced, in Pearl Har­bor came the tri­umph over the forces of fascism.

From the bru­tal­i­ty of Bloody Sun­day on the Edmund Pet­tus Bridge came his­toric vot­ing rights leg­is­la­tion. So, now let us step up, write the next chap­ter in Amer­i­can his­to­ry where Jan­u­ary 6th marks not the end of democ­ra­cy, but the begin­ning of a renais­sance of lib­er­ty and fair play.

I did not seek this fight brought to this Capi­tol one year ago today, but I will not shrink from it either. I will stand in this breach. I will defend this nation. And I will allow no one to place a dag­ger at the throat of our democracy.

We will make sure the will of the peo­ple is heard; that the bal­lot pre­vails, not vio­lence; that author­i­ty in this nation will always be peace­ful­ly transferred.

I believe the pow­er of the pres­i­den­cy and the pur­pose is to unite this nation, not divide it; to lift us up, not tear us apart; to be about us — about us, not about “me.”

Deep in the heart of Amer­i­ca burns a flame lit almost 250 years ago — of lib­er­ty, free­dom, and equality.

This is not a land of kings or dic­ta­tors or auto­crats. We’re a nation of laws; of order, not chaos; of peace, not violence.

Here in Amer­i­ca, the peo­ple rule through the bal­lot, and their will prevails.

So, let us remem­ber: Togeth­er, we’re one nation, under God, indi­vis­i­ble; that today, tomor­row, and for­ev­er, at our best, we are the Unit­ed States of America.

God bless you all. May God pro­tect our troops. And may God bless those who stand watch over our democracy.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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