By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
The Yang Gang came to Seattle on a sun-filled Friday afternoon at Gas Works Park, as Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s campaign visited Seattle. In addition to speaking to a throng of followers, Yang followed up the May 3 appearance with a fundraiser at China Harbor Restaurant.
According to Yang’s campaign, 1,000 followers, flashing signs reading, “Yang Gang,” “Humanity First,” and “Math,” were energetic and applauded Yang as he took the stage at Gas Works Park. Wearing a campaign hat, suit jacket, and red,white, and blue scarf, Yang talked about his platform for president.
Yang’s biggest talking points was automation, corporate welfare, and his proposed “Freedom Dividend,” which would guarantee $1,000 a month to every American over the age of 18.
His swing through Seattle focused on the tech sector to the chagrin of the crowd at Gas Works Park. He also spoke to the throng of supporters, mainly Chinese Americans, at the China Harbor gathering, which took place immediately after the public rally. Supporters at the fundraiser were energetic, lively, and ready to provide their emotional and financial backing.
A data-driven tech entrepreneur, the 44-year-old Yang told the crowd at Gas Works that he’d be the first president to use Powerpoint at the State of the Union, which led the crowd to chant, “Powerpoint! Powerpoint!” as the Microsoft application is used by a vast segment of the crowd to conduct meetings.
Yang critiqued Amazon for not having to pay its fair share in taxes, as well as eliminating jobs with automation and the use of artificial intelligence. He pointed out that the system is flawed where Amazon has not paid federal income taxes in the past two years. He also stressed what he called “the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” as he warned of how the growing trend of using machines instead of people are eliminating jobs, leaving individuals previously employable out of a career.
Originally from New York, his parents emigrated from Taiwan. They met as graduate students while at U.C. Berkeley. He went to undergrad at Brown University in Rhode Island and then went on to Columbia Law School. He joked to the crowd at China Harbor that he was a lawyer for just “5 months” before he left to become an entrepreneur and worked with startups. He is married and has two sons.
The life of a presidential candidate is not all smiles, handshakes, and hugs. But, if you attend a fundraising event to drum up more monetary fuel for the campaign machine, it is a requirement. Yang visited each of the 48 tables to take pictures with supporters. Yang shook hands, gave high fives, and put his arms around many that have thrown their support behind him. The scene looked tiring as Yang was pulled, pushed, and prodded to each table with everyone having a fleeting moment to say hello and offer their support.
Through each table, Yang kept up his excitement, as he smiled for every photo and briefly chatted where he could.
Being an Asian American has not gone unnoticed in his run for the top office in America. “Thank you for stepping up,” said Washington state Sen. Bob Hasegawa, who attended the fundraiser. “I’m proud of having a viable Asian American candidate.” He added that Yang’s platform when he’s in office was the “most developed” of all the Democratic hopefuls.
Yang joked to the audience at China Harbor, “I never thought I’d run for president. I’m Asian after all.” He greeted the mainly Chinese crowd in Chinese to the applause of all in attendance.
There is the big question of ‘electability’ as an Asian American, an overarching issue of race as a question as to whether most of America would vote for him.
“Right now, if you ask Democrats what the most important feature in a candidate is, they will say it is their ability to beat Donald Trump,” said Yang at the Gas Works Park rally. “I am going to say that the candidate who is best suited to beat Donald Trump is the candidate who is already supporting independents, Libertarians, Trump voters, Democrats, and progressives. The campaign is bringing all Americans together and is the reason why Democrats are going to realize that I am the one who can beat Donald Trump.”
Yang stated that he is polling higher than Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who is also running for president. His campaign contributions have qualified him for the Democratic debates, which take place this summer. This threshold is a big step toward keeping the campaign going into the fall as it is a gauge of his popularity, as well as the grassroots nature of his campaign.
Jason can be reached at email@example.com.