It wasn’t until the first democratic debate that I realized Andrew Yang was a candidate. For the first time in my life, I sat down with my wife and daughters ages 11 and 13 to watch the presidential debates. I don’t know if I’ve ever tuned in so early during a presidential race, and it was certainly the first time we’d watched a debate as a family. I was surprised and excited to see how interested my kids were in what was being said.
Yang spoke the least of all the candidates at 2 mins and 50 seconds, but it seemed like no matter what he was asked, he quickly pivoted back to an idea about giving every person in the United States $1,000. Somewhere–maybe I heard it on television or read it on Twitter–Yang was described as the candidate who was trying to buy every Americans’ vote. It took me until almost the second debate to realize that it wasn’t just that $1,000 was going to go to every working age American if Yang got elected. The promise was to give every working age American one thousand dollars a month. What?!!!
When it came time for the second debate, my kids and I were ready for more Andrew Yang. They knew him as the guy who didn’t wear a tie and the candidate who’d said ass when talking about the Russians “laughing their asses off” when it came to their interference in the U.S. presidential election. I have to say that I was close to laughing at Yang for the way I thought he would just keep hammering the audience with his $1,000 a person gimmick. I was, at least, really getting a kick out of his candidacy.
In the second debate, Yang got a lot more air time, a whopping 8 mins and 53 seconds that still put him last for total talk time among the field. I stopped getting a kick out of him and started taking him seriously upon the delivery of his opening statement. Here’s a bit of what he had to say during the second debate:
- As someone who has run a business, our current healthcare system makes it harder to hire; it makes it harder to make them full time employees; it makes it harder to switch jobs, and it’s certainly a lot harder to start a business. If we can get healthcare off the backs of businesses and families, watch American entrepreneurship recover and bloom.
- If you go to a factory here in Michigan, you will not find wall to wall immigrants. You will find wall-to-wall robots and machines. Immigrants are being scapegoated for issues they have nothing to do with in our economy.
- We should go back to the writings of Martin Luther King who in his 1967 book Chaos or Community? said we need a guaranteed minimum income in the United States of America.
- There is record high GDP and stock market prices. You know what else is at record highs? Suicides, drug overdoses, depression, and anxiety.
- I’d like to talk about my wife who is at home with our two boys right now, one of whom is autistic. What does her work count at in today’s economy? Zero, and we know that is the opposite of the truth. We know her work is among the most challenging and vital.
- We’re up here with makeup on our faces and our rehearsed attack lines playing roles in this reality TV show. It’s one reason we elected a reality TV star as our president.
Following the end of that second debate, I purchased Yang’s book, Smart People Should Build Things: How to Restore Our Culture of Achievement, Build a Path for Entrepreneurs, and Create New Jobs in America. In reading that book, I recognize in my own students what Yang describes as the limited choices students recognize upon their college graduation. Many of the students I work with are talented, hardworking, and ambitious, but they just don’t see many opportunities outside of work in finance, law, or healthcare. I’m impressed by Yang’s ideas for the economy, and I look forward to sharing some of what stands out to me in future posts.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read my thoughts here. I look forward to joining you in conversation about the upcoming 2020 election.