The Democrats’ Star Wars bar scene is filled with lackluster candidates, which is why none of them have really “taken off” in Democrat polls up to this point. Joe Biden, the ostensible front-runner at ~24% nationally, is damaged goods – in more ways than one. He’s a walking gaffe machine and has corruption problems galore that will sink his campaign at some point soon. Bernie Sanders (~19%) and Elizabeth Warren (~15%) appeal to the radical left wing of the Democrat Party, but their extreme positions limit their appeal to only the leftist fringe. Pete Buttigieg’s (~8%) experience and drawing power is limited; he will be brushed aside. The rest of the field poll consistently below 5%. Michael Bloomberg (~4.9%) has the deepest pockets of the lot but has limited support among leftist Democrats. Amy Klobuchar (~3.5%) is completely lackluster. Which brings us to Andrew Yang, who hovers around 3.5% in national polls.
Why should we pay attention to him? Because the media are starting to promote his candidacy a bit lately. He has handled himself pretty well during the Star Wars bar scene debates by giving articulate (albeit leftwing) answers and not sounding as crazy as some of the other Democrat wannabes. His signature proposal is for a universal basic income of $1,000 a month for every adult to “counter job losses brought about by automation.” This resonates with leftist techies in particular, who form the core of his support. His campaign slogan is “MATH,” or “Make America Think Harder,” which younger Democrats appear to like.
Yang is not a career politician. He advertises himself as a businessman, entrepreneur, lawyer, and philanthropist. His resume includes the following private sector experience:
- Corporate lawyer at Davis Polk and Wardwell in New York for a short 5 months
- Vice president at a healthcare startup company, MMF Systems, Inc., for 3 years
- CEO of Manhattan Test Prep (6 years), which helps prepare people for GMAT, GRE, LSAT, SAT/ACT, and TOEFL tests.
- Founder and CEO of Venture for America, a nonprofit company that connects young professionals to innovative companies in “economically challenged cities” through a 2-year fellowship program that distributes top college graduates to start-ups around the country [He stepped down as CEO in 2017.]
Yang is well-connected in Democrat circles, having been named by Obama as a “Champion of Change” in 2012 and later designated as a “Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE)” in 2015.
To summarize, Yang is smart, articulate, young (at 44, a great contrast with the geriatric Democrat frontrunners), a minority (YUUUGE plus with the Democrat base), and supports nuanced policies that are variations on the standard socialist-minded Democrat themes these days. Which could be why he is getting some media attention lately. Here are a couple of excerpts from a comprehensive 20 December article on Yang in Business Insider:
Insider has conducted a number of other polls to check in on how these candidates are perceived in comparison to one another. When we asked respondents to one poll to rank how far to the left or to the right they considered the candidates, Yang was generally considered to be one of the more centrist candidates in the field.
According to recent Insider polling, Yang also has the highest net support by far out of all the 2020 Democratic candidates among undecided general election voters who are considering voting for either party’s nominee.
Furthermore, Yang is locking down way more loyal supporters than any of the other candidates in the mid-tier of polling. Yang’s supporters like an average of 5.5 candidates total, the lowest number out of the mid-tier candidates out of six Insider polls conducted between early September and early November.
Attributes perceived as most valuable include he is multi-lingual (+25%), age 50 or younger (+23%), a child of immigrants (+21%), an Ivy League graduate (+7%) and a lawyer (+3%).
Attributes considered to be a liability based on the preferences of self-reported Democratic voters include his past as a business owner (-11%), that he spent little time in government (-22%), was a corporate lawyer (-33%) and grew up wealthy (-42%).
That article also had a good summary of where he stands on the issues, as does his slick campaign website here. As you would expect, he is pretty much in the Democrat mainstream (leftward, that is), as evidenced by his general support for “Medicare for All” and also the vision of the “Green New Deal.” My guess is that most Democrats would be very comfortable with his positions on the issues.
To continue with citing recent articles in the media about Yang, here is a 16 December story from CNBC.
Next, is a CNN puff piece published on 24 December.
And here’s one from The Daily Beast updated on 30 December.
Of particular note, Yang appeared on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday 29 December where he was introduced as a “consequential candidate” although he has never topped 5% in national polls. Jonathan Karl (substituting for George Stephanopolous) heaped praise on Yang while plying him with softball questions. While most of the interview was focused on Yang’s positions on issues, I want to focus only on the ABC introduction, and then his response to one particular question.
Here are some excerpts from the introduction:
Karl (after showing a few clips of Yang from the 19 Dec Democrat debate): … That was Andrew Yang making is pitch for his universal basic income plan. The tech entrepreneur has been the SURPRISE BREAKTHROUGH CANDIDATE of 2020. A dozen governors, mayors and members of Congress have already dropped out, but Yang is still there – one of just seven to qualify for that last debate.
Me: “Surprise breakthrough candidate.” The media – led by ABC News – is giving Yang some oxygen and life.
After some basic Q&A fare on Yang’s stances on the issues (almost unwatchable from my point of view), there was this very interesting exchange:
Karl (somberly, almost like he had a hard time asking this): And you’ve suggested that you would be open to pardoning Donald Trump if you were elected. Is that … would you … do you think that there should be a pardon issued to Donald Trump … if a Democrat wins in November?
Me: Note the presumption by Karl that the President is “guilty” of the Democrats’ allegations. This is bleating the Democrats’ narrative – the primary characteristic of the agit-prop into which the legacy media have morphed.
Yang: My focus is on solving the problems that got Donald Trump elected and moving the country forward. And if you look around the world, unfortunately, it’s developing countries that are falling into a pattern where the new president or the new leader … prosecuting and some times imprisoning the former leader. That’s not a precedent that has been set here in the US, and to me, that’s something that I would be interested in maintaining. We don’t need to look backward; we need to look forward.
Me: Remember, this guy was publicly rewarded twice by Obama. Yang is paying Obama back by subtly remarking that we should NOT be looking backward at the crimes committed in 2016, and rather we all should be essentially “moving on” (a favorite Democrat political tactic to avoid prosecution for past crimes committed). The Democrats won’t ever publicly admit – until direct evidence is produced by US Attorney John Durham – that Obama was up to his eyeballs in Spygate and is legally liable for actions taken (the buck stops with him). But they know that he is vulnerable and will do everything to keep him safe from public scrutiny.
Karl: So you would not want to proceed with prosecuting Donald Trump after he left office, and you would be open to a pardon?
Me: Karl is clearly on board with the Left’s (the Uniparty’s?) great dream – that President Trump and his family would continue to be investigated and prosecuted whenever he leaves office for the rest of his life as payback for beating Hillary Clinton in 2016. And of course, if the Democrats win in 2020, that’s exactly what they’ll do.
Yang: We would have to see what the facts were. We would have to see what the charges were and what the attorney general advises, but my interest is in moving the country forward.
Me: Note that Yang doesn’t dispute Karl’s assertion that the President is “guilty” of unnamed crimes; that is simply virtue-signaling to the Democrat base and donor class who are all in on removing the President from office and pursuing any and all prosecutions as punishment for destroying the Obama legacy. And Yang seeks to appear magnanimous by reserving judgment while holding out the possibility of a pardon – which plays well with moderates and people who don’t really pay attention to politics and current events (those who favor a “reasonable” outcome).
I find it interesting that Andrew Yang is now getting some attention in the legacy media. That “This Week” interview essentially main-streamed him as an up-and-coming candidate. And he does fit the Democrat profile: minority, young, articulate, techie, correct on all the issues (from the Left’s point of view), Obama connections, reasonable-sounding to those who care about such things.
His Achilles’ heel is lack of any national security and foreign policy experience, but then that didn’t prevent Obama from being elected in 2008, did it? With wall-to-wall legacy media support, anything is possible. And that particular shortfall could be balanced by a running mate with those credentials (for “gravitas” purposes).
Will he receive any major endorsements before the Democrat primaries start in February, will contributions to his campaign see a significant up-tick (they’ve been trending upward for several quarters), and will the legacy media give him more oxygen between now and then? We should watch carefully.
Post Script: The whole interview on “This Week” can be seen here; the pardon Q&A is near the end.