Andrew Yang is the dark horse who could win the Democratic primary basically out of nowhere. Despite polling at up to 3% and enjoying an intense online following, Yang is still relatively unknown to the general populace. Yang is the dark horse because he is a policy wonk approaching issues with data and prescience and marketing his big tent platform to progressives, conservatives, and independents alike. The fact that his campaign is part of online meme culture and has spread virally thanks to indie media outlets also helps. Finally, Yang seems to exude charisma through being an honest, deeply empathetic person who truly cares about the American people and their future.
The 44-year-old Yang was born in New York to a middle class family of Taiwanese immigrants. He attended Brown University, where he studied economics, and then graduated from Columbia Law. He worked as a corporate lawyer for a few months but quit to launch a startup. He then worked at Manhattan Prep and became CEO. After Kaplan
Yang's platform features three main pillars. First is the Freedom Dividend, a universal basic income of $1,000 to every American adult, coupled with a value-added tax on large corporations. He trusts the Freedom Dividend will help people survive as automation and technology keep creating mass unemployment in the future. Second is Medicare for all as a public option. Yang thinks that allowing Medicare for all who want it will lower healthcare costs and improve quality and wellness. Third is human-centered capitalism, replacing gross domestic product with national wellbeing measures. Yang believes human-centered capitalism will push America to focus on real important statistics like life expectancy, family and small business success, and overall happiness. In total, Yang boasts around 100 policy proposals, some lofty and others mundane. He is truly the policy wonk of this election cycle.
Yang is off to a good start, as he has qualified for the first two primary debates and enjoys over $2 million raised from 125,000 individual donors. But he faces two major obstacles going forward. First, he needs to explain why his somewhat regressive Freedom Dividend and VAT program, which incentivizes welfare recipients to give up some benefits, is better than conventional social democracy that aids the poor and middle class most. Second, he runs the risk of alienating both progressives and conservatives. Progressives could be repelled by his lack of support for free public college and a $15 minimum wage, while conservatives might be discouraged by his support for reproductive rights and the Green New Deal. Still, Yang has awesome upside potential and appeal among young voters and across the ideological spectrum. He would be a strong challenger to Trump in 2020.
- 1. https://www.yang2020.com/
- 2. https://www.businessinsider.com/who-is-andrew-yang-bio-age-family-key-positions-2019-3
- 3. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/us/politics/andrew-yang-2020-campaign.html
- 4. https://qz.com/1627154/andrew-yang-is-the-silicon-valley-candidate-stealing-trumps-playbook/