May 23, 2023

By Pacyinz Lyfoung
AAP Contributing Writer

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 15, 2019) — On a cold and blustery Tax Day evening, a crowd of several hundred people gathered at the Andrew Yang 2020 DC Rally, below the Lincoln Memorial.

Yang, an entrepreneur, philanthropist and founder of Venture for America, is running for president as a democrat. He currently lives in New York with his wife Evelyn and two sons. 

Andrew Yang, a candidate for president on the democratic ticket, speaks about his progressive social policy at an April 15 rally in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Pacyinz Lyfoung)

Facing the National Monument blazing gold in the sunset and the sparkling waters of the reflecting pool, the presidential hopeful addressed supporters who were visibly bristling with excitement to see and hear him in person. Most probably already knew and liked his main message epitomized by the distinguishing feature of his platform: being prepared for the 21st century with technology rendering obsolete various human economic activities with the Freedom Dividend, a guaranteed minimum income. Thus, the main draw of this face-to-face meeting was the opportunity to witness for oneself what kind of person Andrew Yang is in reality and hear directly his vision of the future of the country. 

From a substantive perspective, the gathering provided better insights into various aspects of the Andrew Yang’s presidential run. From an Asian American lens, there is no doubt that incredible support and pride emanated from the many Asian American attendees, who represented a fairly broad range of Asian American segments: middle aged political activists, college students, women, and families. Furthermore, as Andrew Yang emphasized, his platform is an old progressive American platform, previously advanced by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., for example, and therefore part of America’s continuing struggle for civil rights, but just revamped for modern times. In addition, the idea of a guaranteed income is already proven to work, as evidenced by the annual permanent dividend in Alaska. Again, Andrew Yang pointed out that what was devised for the oil economy in Alaska makes sense for the technology economy in the greater USA.

Most striking, as per the motto on his campaign’s hats, MATH, Andrew Yang’s ideological stance is based on more than moral imperatives: it relies heavily on the logical approach of numbers/data reflecting the realities of average Americans’ professional challenges in the 21stt century.  As cash, the Freedom Dividend can resonate with a multitude of stakeholders with very different needs and goals, eg, a stay-at-home mom who can pay for childcare and go explore her dreams, a woman with extra cash can leave her abuser, someone wanting to pay for an education, an entrepreneur needing extra cash to pay for his healthcare so he can quit his job to start his business, and so on. The common denominator and value though is that the small cash influx from the Freedom Dividend will typically contribute to the local economy by supporting local people to spend locally. 

The Freedom Dividend example illustrates why the Andrew Yang campaign may be able to build broad coalitions. Andrew Yang noted that Donald Trump got the problems right, but chose solutions that went back in time. Andrew Yang is proposing to address the problems with solutions for the future, and in that process, can even appeal to former and now disenchanted Trump supporters. So when Americans ask, who can beat Trump? Andrew Yang feels confident his candidacy can meet that challenge.

After his speech, Andrew Yang ventured among the crowd of his galvanized supporters. As they surged forward to shake his hands, a wave of energy rippled like power waiting to find an outlet: Andrew Yang might be the channel of those dreams and aspirations. As a supporter commented: “people were wondering if he had enough charisma, he definitely has IT.”

A crowd gathers below the Lincoln Memorial to hear presidential candidate Andrew Yang speak at an April 15 rally. (Photo by Pacyinz Lyfoung)

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