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A Conversation with Andrew Yang: Political Representation and Participation of Asian Americans

BY: SOFIA DEAN

Former Democratic presidential candidate and entrepreneur Andrew Yang discussed the 2020 election, economic success for minorities and lower-income people, and creating economic growth in the age of automation with the AU community at a Zoom webinar on Oct. 29.

The webinar was presented by the Kennedy Political Union, the Kogod School of Business, Asian American Student Union, and AU College Democrats. Professor Caroline Bruckner of the Kogod School of Business moderated the discussion.

Andrew Yang became a surprising frontrunner in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary race, gaining traction particularly among young people, for his business background and pioneering national discussions for a Universal Based Income (UBI). His platform was primarily based around calls for a Freedom Dividend, where Americans over the age of 18 would receive $1,000 a month.

Yang's ardent supporters granted him a spot at the seventh Democratic presidential primary debate stage. His appearance at the debate also made headlines as he was the only person of color on stage in a field that started out with five. 

"I remember very well being the lone candidate of color on that night and it should not happen again. The best way to prevent it from happening would be public campaign financing laws. I'd recommend democracy dollars or vouchers so that you could have more people running for office who represented their communities," Yang said.

Some have argued that he has perpetuated the model minority myth with his April 1 Washington Post op-ed. Asian American Student Union posted a statement on their Instagram before the event emphasizing how Yang doesn't necessarily align with all of their beliefs or mission. 

Yang addressed the op-ed at the webinar stating, "I did make light of certain stereotypes that are attached to our community. My experience is not representative of anything but my experience. I hoped that by bringing some of these stereotypes to life I could point out just how ridiculous it would be to think they could possibly apply to literally millions of Americans."

He further discussed his own experience growing up in an Asian American immigrant household where politics weren't really discussed. Yang expressed hope that today's generation of Asian Americans will make a difference.

"Now the only thing that's left for us to do is vote in much higher numbers than we've been voting. Because if 50 to 60% of Asian Americans voted, we would swing a number of these swing states and the national political landscape would change for the better whereas Asian Americans are concerned because people would pay much more attention to us in our votes." 


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