“Politics is not a game but a serious business.” – Winston Churchill
It is 2020, a new decade with new and exciting things. 2020 also means that the time has come to vote for the next president of the United States. It is an important decision to be made by the Americans, especially by the youth who will be eighteen by November 3rd. So, the time is approaching to choose a Democratic and Republic candidate.
A candidate that has caught the attention of many, especially those at Waukee High School, is Andrew Yang, who is the first Asian-American presidential candidate in American history. Many students have seen his stickers and merchandise around the high school, but do students really know who he is?
Yang has made his humanitarian stance very clear, as he proposes a “Humanity First” theme towards the government. The Des Moines Register described, “[Humanity First is] the idea that our economy ought to prioritize our common goals and values, not simply financial gains.” In other words, he believes in an economy that works with and for the people, not the people working for the economy.
In today’s economy, the income equality gap has become worse over the years. According to Inequality.org, a website providing information on income and the American economy, “An estimated 40 percent of the total U.S. population (140 million people) are either poor or low-income.” This means that the poverty rates are becoming lower and lower. The website also provides numbers for the income gap, placing the top 0.1% of Americans with an income of 5 million dollars or above. The top 1% makes about 1.5 million dollars, and the bottom 90% of the population makes less than 125,000 a year. To many, Yang’s ideas will help those struggling to meet their needs.
According to Yang, “Around five million manufacturing jobs have been lost since 2000, with automation being a main factor. Many of those jobs were in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Iowa.” Manufacturing jobs have been at the core of America’s economy since the Industrial Revolution. With these jobs lost due to Automation, further decline is to be expected in America. However, Yang plans to take back manufacturing jobs and other occupations that have been lost due to factors, such as automation. He wants to create more jobs in place of the ones lost and give the economy to the people. He also seeks to provide a “Freedom Dividend” to those over the age of eighteen to give them the ability to provide for themselves and their family.
The Freedom Dividend is part of the driving force in his campaign, alongside his “Humanity First” force. This dividend would provide $1,000 to American adults every month, totaling $12,000 a year. Yang2020.com, Andrew Yang’s official campaign website, stated, “This would enable all Americans to pay their bills, educate themselves, start businesses…take care of loved ones, and have a real stake in the future.” The dividend has set guidelines as well. For example, it would be illegal to lend or borrow against someone’s dividend. This idea seems like a good idea, but many are having doubts about how it would work or where the money would come from.
Yang explained that a rise in value tax, tax on consumer products, of 10% would pay for part of the dividends. The rest would come from increasing the tax on the wealthy. Many think this is a great idea. Others think that it would not work and be a disaster. FEE, the Foundation for Economic Education, interviewed Yang, later picking apart the different components of the Universal Basic Income (Freedom Dividend). Policy Analyst, Bill Wurst, described, “After its introduction, even if it were to replace the welfare state as we know it, UBI would witness a steady increase paired with the reinstitution of the old welfare transfers. And that is why UBI would be a failure.” Wurst went into detail in his article about the idea and added that even if it did not fail, it would still contain too many holes to provide to the American people in the best way.
Aside from the Universal Basic Income, he also opposes free-tuition for four-year colleges. Instead, Yang wants to put more funding into vocational schools. According to Yang, “[Vocational training would provide] a viable career path for those students who are more interested in starting their careers immediately after high school instead of continuing with an education they don’t want but feel obligated to get.” This is true for many students, even for students at Waukee High School. Last school year, some Waukee graduates opted to start in the workforce after graduation instead of going to university. If there were more vocational programs, it could provide more opportunities for many people in America.
However, it could provide less funding for other colleges and universities. It could also cause regression from what has already been done for education. Forbes described, “In many ways, what Yang proposes for higher education would be worse than what President Trump has already done.” It is unclear what President Trump has done to further or regress education reforms; although, he is pushing for more school choices and higher education funding changes. Many criticize that both Yang and President Trump focus too much on higher education, while little is being done to prepare students K-12 for adulthood. This is also an appliance of his Humanity First campaign.
On the other hand, Yang proposed high school classes in financial literacy and other life skills. Many people support this, and a few of the other candidates have also proposed life skill classes in their campaigns as well. Yang stated, “These skills are arguably more important to success in life than geometry and yet we force students to learn more of the latter than the former.” Learning these life skills is a reform currently taking place. This includes the newly required financial literacy class that Waukee High School students must take to graduate.
Yang’s approach to domestic, foreign and economic policies are different than many other candidates. On the other hand, there is more to Yang than meets the eye. Most people see Yang as a presidential candidate, and while he is open about his personal life, many do not see that he is also a father and founder of a non-profit organization.
Yang, a former corporate lawyer, is the founder of Venture for America, a non-profit organization aiding recent college graduates with startup businesses and entrepreneurship. This organization has provided fellowships for graduates and aided in over 65% of their alumni to start their businesses. About one-quarter of their alumni have multi-million dollar businesses. He has also partnered up with some of his alumni to get them on their feet and get their businesses running. As a businessman, Yang has taught the fellows in Venture for America the path to success. Since graduating from Brown University in Economics and attending Columbia Law School, Yang has put his knowledge to work. He has not only co-founded businesses and founded Venture for America, but he has also been able to find love through the love of his work.
The 45-year-old son of Taiwanese immigrants is not just a businessman or the potential democratic candidate for the presidency. He is also the father of two young boys, ages six and four. Yang has spoken out about his oldest son, Christopher, being autistic and openly supports disabilities of all kinds. His family discusses these issues often in his campaigns. He stated, “I have a son with special needs. And to me, special needs is the new normal in this country.” Yang has also explained that he felt that he did not have a choice in whether or not to include Christopher’s story in his campaign. He felt as though a more positive light should be shed on autism and that it does not mean that someone on the spectrum is any less intelligent or important. Co-founder of the Iowa City Autism Community, Jessie Witherall, exclaimed, “Getting to meet somebody who actually wants to address autism and reduce stigma and talk about the things that actually affect our lives [is] very, very important.”
He credits his wife of nine years, Evelyn Yang, as well, for being there for his kids while he is on the road. Raising their two children alone is a lot to handle, but recently, Evelyn Yang has also come out with her own story; she was sexually assaulted while pregnant with her first son.
Besides supporting her husband through his business ventures and campaigning, Evelyn Yang has also been telling her story. Recently, she came out with her story about how her obstetrician-gynecologist had violated her trust toward him. She described in an interview with CNN News how he started with questions, progressively asking more inappropriate questions. She felt as though she should trust his judgment, as many women have felt in her position. Then, at seven months pregnant, her doctor, Robert Hadden, told her he needed to examine her for the risk of cesarean surgery. He then proceeded to do so internally, ungloved, leaving her in the exam room in shock.
Since coming out with her story, the Yangs have openly shared support for sexual abuse/assault victims and victims of rape. Over thirty women also came forward with their stories from the same doctor. They have used their voices in a bid to get women to share their experiences and inspire others to fight back. Andrew Yang said, “When victims of abuse come forward, they deserve our belief, support, and protection. I hope that Evelyn’s story gives strength to those who have suffered and sends a clear message that our institutions must do more to protect and respond to women.”
The Yangs are sharing their stories, not only as a way of campaigning, but Andrew Yang announced that even if he does not win, he will do his best to keep his ideas alive and fight for the American people.
Currently, the Yang family resides in New York City, where Andrew Yang was born and raised. Together, they are trying to spread gain support for their #YangGang and bring to light some important main ideas. How likely it will be that he wins primary or the election is yet to be determined, but he is gaining fast traction. Will the “Yang Gang” succeed? With so many of Waukee’s students supporting him, it may be likely. He has surely built a good reputation for him and his family. However, it is helpful to take into account who Andrew Yang and his family are. Andrew Yang has shown his knowledge, now careful attention must be placed on his character.
“Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”