While we were at the Greater Cleveland Chinese Chamber of Commerce on Friday night, we ran into our friend, Ms. Annie Yu Pu from the Erie Chinese Journal, who told us that Mr. Andrew Yang, democratic party candidate for President in 2020, would be in Cleveland over the weekend. Since we want to hear all of the candidates, we decided to explore the possibility of attending a function for Mr. Yang, and, sure enough, we discovered that he would be speaking at the Christ Lutheran Church on Sunday morning, February 24th so we made it a point to go.
When we arrived, we chatted with Ms. Cassandra McDonald, President of the Euclid NAACP, who told us that her organization was hosting the event but was not allowed to officially endorse candidates. Like us, she was eager to hear what Mr. Yang had to say. From we what have read about him, Mr. Andrew Yang is a socially conscious entrepreneur, as well as the founder of Venture for America whose mission is to create “economic opportunity in American cities by mobilizing the next generation of entrepreneurs and equipping them with the skills and resources they need to create jobs.”
During his presentation, Mr. Yang spoke with a sense of candid humor about himself that is somewhat uncommon among politicians that we have met. He said that most people tend to identify him as “the Asian guy who wants to give everyone $1,000.00 a month” and, yes, both were quite true. First, he assured us that he definitely is an “Asian guy,” as his parents came to the United States from Taiwan. Second, he considers his $1,000-a-month plan to be a “freedom dividend” and his campaign literature explains his reasoning as follows:
“We need to implement the Freedom Dividend, a universal basic income of $1,000.00 a month for every American adult between 18 and 64. This would enable all Americans to pay their bills, pursue education, start businesses, stay healthy, relocate for work, spend time with their children, take care of loved ones, and have a real stake in the future. The Freedom Dividend would permanently grow the economy by 13 percent-or about $2.5 trillion by 2025-and would increase the labor force by 4.5 million people. Putting money into people’s hands and keeping it there would be a perpetual boost and support to job growth and the economy.”
Mr. Yang even wrote a book on this topic titled The War on Normal People-The Truth About America’s Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income is Our Future. Likewise he discussed other issues like health care, sentencing reform, education, climate change, and other matters pertaining to the economy. From listening to him, we could see why he selected “Humanity First” to be his campaign slogan because he seemed very humanistic in his approach to all matters. For more information on Mr. Yang’s political stands, please see his campaign website.
Before the program started, we told Mr. Yang that, during the Q and A, we would be asking him about immigration. He said he would welcome the question because immigration was a very important issue to him. Indeed, we could see why it would be because, as we read in his bio, his parents immigrated to the United States from Taiwan in the 1960’s. His mother was a systems administrator at a local university and his father was a researcher at IBM and he generated 69 patents over his career. Accordingly, Mr. Yang wrote that he and his brother “grew-up believing in the American Dream-it’s why my parents came here.”
When we got to ask him our question about what suggestion about what type of immigration policy would he pursue if elected U.S. President, Mr. Yang said that there were several ways to address the issue of undocumented immigration but the one he favored would be to provide a pathway to citizenship for those who are here and have no serious criminal record; he wanted to thus help them make the necessary steps (i.e. mastery of English) to “integrate” into our society.
Mr. Yang came right out and said that, immigration-wise, his views were the opposite from those of President Trump and, thus, he did not favor a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
As for his prospects, Mr. Yang reported that surveys showed that people are becoming more and more aware of him and, if this trend continues as planned, he will be included in the democratic party’s U.S. Presidential debates which should start taking place in the latter part of 2019.