2020 Democratic Primary Candidates: Andrew Yang By Phillip Howard
Andrew Yang is considered to be a long-shot candidate, but his “presidential campaign draws crowds, money and an expected spot on the Democratic debate stage.” Yang is differentiating himself from the pack, though sits in the bottom third of all Democratic candidates.
Yang was born in 1975 to parents who emigrated from Taiwan in the 1960s. He earned an undergraduate degree in economics and political science from Brown University then a law degree from Columbia University. Yang founded Venture for America, an organization that provides fellowships to recent college graduates to help create jobs.
Yang has managed to clear some hurdles in order to make it to the national stage. Back in March, Yang met the 65,000 individual donor threshold set in place by the DNC to be eligible for the debates. This was in part due to Yang’s ability to to get support from younger voters.
Yang has provided over 80 policy proposals on a wide range of topics. His central campaign promise guarantees everyone in the United States a universal basic income of $1,000 a month.
Yang believes this is necessary as automation increasingly replaces American jobs. The $800 billion of the cost would be covered by a 10 percent value-added tax on businesses and cuts to social programs. Citizens would have by a choice between federal assistance or the basic income.
Jim Pugh, co-founder of the Universal Income Project, says Yang’s adoption of a universal basic income is just what voters would like to see out of a fringe candidate. “I think with [Yang] demonstrating how much people want to see really bold approaches for taking on economic insecurity in the United States, you’re likely to see other candidates move farther in that direction,” said Pugh.
Yang has also supported Democratic platform staples, including Medicare-for-all, giving prisoners the right to vote, and cancelling student loan debt. On foreign policy issues, Yang believes the United States should be more “restrained and judicious” and “rely more on the U.N.”
Yang’s strongest constituencies may be Millennials, Hispanics, and Asians. Yang would be the first Asian-American president.
The challenge for Yang is that Asian voters are approximately just 5 percent of the Democratic electorate. Moreover, party loyalists are less enthusiastic. Yang has not received any major endorsements thus far.
Still, this “below the radar phenomenon” should not be dismissed. Yang’s unique approach, social media presence and appeal to younger, more diverse voters, has the potential to make an impact on the race.
Phillip Howard is a graduate student at Utica College