A few weeks ago on April 15, I went with a couple friends to see Andrew Yang on the steps of the Lincoln memorial. We got there about twenty minutes late, which it turns out was about the right time to show up as we barely missed a thing. There were maybe 150 people crowded around a small stage with two American flags on either side. The organizers had brought a small group of people onto the stage to make the photos look like the speaker was part of the crowd or something.
Overall the event was a lot of fun! Several speakers came up and explained why they were in the “Yang Gang.” They tended to start off strong and funny and slowly decline as the speech went on, but for people who weren’t experienced public speakers it was pretty great.
Then Andrew Yang came on: he was a great speaker. One thing I had noticed after having watched some older videos of him before the event was that his public speaking skills have improved dramatically. He had clearly been honing his rhetoric. The actual content on the other hand was a bit weird all though usually good. For example he has all these signs and hats which just say “Math” as he is “the math guy” which I appreciate. He also was very policy oriented which was awesome.
However, the line he toes on capitalism is a bit hard to get your head around. He specifically will say a thing I really like: we need people centered capitalism. On the other hand, when he goes about solving issues he tends to focus on the economy in a very uncomfortable way, as though its the economy which is the problem. Furthermore, his main policy, a UBI program of 1000 dollars a month to every citizen, doesn’t seem to solve the actual problem he claims needs to be solved with our current system. He admits that people can’t live on that much money even though he is currently going around the country talking about how the millions of truck drivers, call center workers, and retail workers are going to lose their jobs and can’t be retrained. This is an uncomfortable set of ideas to grapple with.
Furthermore, his beliefs on social issues tend to be a bit more center than the other Democratic candidates in the race. This goes along with his claim, “It’s not left or right it’s forward“. I am not sure I buy this, but it certainly is a powerful message that is rapidly growing right now. While Yang is not even known by most the country, his message is spreading, and other candidates will need to come to terms with him as they arrive at the Democrat primary debates which he has already qualified for. I am looking forward to see a UBI go more mainstream.