What Can Be Unburdened By What Has Been meme depicting Kamala Harris giving a speech.

What Can Be, Unburdened By What Has Been

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Updated Jul 16, 2024 at 01:39PM EDT by Zach.

Added Jul 01, 2024 at 11:01AM EDT by Aidan Walker.

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Check out our explainer on this Kamala saying, What Did Kamala Harris Mean By 'What Can Be, Unburdened By What Has Been'? The Context Of Her Famous Quote, Explained

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About

What Can Be, Unburdened By What Has Been is a catchphrase of Vice President Kamala Harris that she has used in speeches throughout her career. In late June 2024, a supercut of Harris using the phrase went viral online, leading to its ironic and sincere embrace by meme makers. The phrase circulated in a manner similar to You Think You Just Fell Out Of A Coconut Tree? — another Harris catchphrase that was referenced in numerous memes.

Origin

Kamala Harris has used the phrase since at least her time as a Senator. A 2020 tweet posted about her Presidential campaign made prominent use of it, receiving over 20,000 likes in four years (seen below).[3]


Kamala Harris @Kamala Harris Sep 28, 2020 When young children see someone who looks like them running for office, they see themselves and what they can be, unburdened by what has been. 0:21 and the joy of the weight. 998 27 4K 20K 山 <]

The popularization of the catchphrase dates back to a four-minute supercut posted on April 30th, 2023, by the Republican National Committee (seen below), which received over 1,700 likes over the course of 14 months.[1] The RNC reposted the same video that December as well, which received around 2,000 likes in a similar timeframe.


The RNC video and the catchphrase were seized upon by many conservative commentators, who used it to mock Harris for what they took to be a canned and cryptic way of speaking. For example, Jordan Peterson referenced the catchphrase on February 12th, 2024, in a post (seen below) replying to Ian Miles Cheong, receiving over 3,400 likes in five months.[4]


Dr Jordan B Peterson @jordanbpeterson · Feb 12 Hopefully she'll be able to see what can be unburdened by what has been Olan Miles Cheong @stillgray Feb 12 • Are you ready for President Kamala? She sees her opportunity and she's taking it. Vice President Kamala Harris on board Air Force Two. GABRIELLA DEMCZUK FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL EXCLUSIVE ELECTIONS Kamala Harris Says She Is Ready to Serve as Biden Faces Age Scrutiny In a recent interview, the vice president cites her 'capacity to lead' after stops on her

Spread

On June 28th, 2024, a viral repost by X / Twitter user @thejcoop, which received over 46,000 likes in the course of two days (seen below), brought the quote into the mainstream where it received viral attention outside of conservative commentators.


John Cooper @thejcoop Four straight minutes of "what can be, unburdened by what has been.” It's incredible. I had no idea she used it this much. ESSIBLE TERNET 3:53 SUNS ACCES INTE OF THE LA SIB RNET MASHUP: Kamala Harris Is "Unburdened" By Competency From RNC Research 9:50 PM Jun 28, 2024 .9M Views ACCESSIBL INTERNET ACCESSIBL

Some used the quote as a catchphrase, commenting on the highly philosophical outlook it suggested. For example, X user @jdcmedlock posted a Distracted Boyfriend meme (seen below) illustrating the quote, receiving over 16,000 likes across one day on June 30th.[5]


James Medlock @jdcmedlock. 17h mgflip.com 59 O 9 WHAT CAN BE THE BURDEN OF WHAT HAS BEEN 17902 15K ılı 939K ㅁ1

Others probed the possible contradiction between "what can be, unburdened by what has been" and the Vice President's viral 2023 remark, "You think you just fell out of a coconut tree? You exist in the context of all in which you live and what came before you." For example, on June 30th, 2024, X user @Sturgeons_Law earned over 36,000 likes over the course of one day for raising this point (seen below).[6]


WYP Sturgeon's Law @Sturgeons_Law • 19h How are you supposed to exist in the context of all in which you live and what came before you AND be, unburdened by what has been at the same time? Waiting for her 3rd great revelation that synthesizes these two. • John Cooper @thejcoop Jun 28 Four straight minutes of "what can be, unburdened by what has been." It's incredible. I had no idea she used it this much. ELPHIA 3:51 101 2.5K 35K ılıı 1.8M

Various Examples


Paden @ThePadenGatlin 1h Looking forward to what can be, unburdened by what has been this July pack it up skittles squad dan @danqdao ⚫ 2h what can be, unburdened by what has been 2 KING OY CUPS 271 80 ill 5.5K IBO serena shahidi @glamdemon2004. 14h Not a lot of people understand that you exist in the context of all in which you live and what came before you but you can also imagine what can be, unburdened by what has been. They just don't get it... John Cooper @thejcoop Jun 28 Four straight minutes of "what can be, unburdened by what has been." It's incredible. I had no idea she used it this much. DELPHIA 3:50

Leor Sapir @LeorSapir 13h Can be is, by what unburdened has been what 10 1728 ♡ 206 ılı 10K 口 parm @prmshra. Jun 29 WHAT CAN BE unburdened by WHAT HAS BEEN Q7 176 38 8 ill 2K ATRADE OFFER A i receive: WHAT you receive: BECOMING UNBURDENED CAN BY WHAT BE HAS BEEN


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