By Ruth Bayang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Presidential candidate Andrew Yang said that “immigrants are being scapegoated” for reasons that have “nothing to do with our economy” during the second night of the Democratic debates on July 31.
The son of immigrants himself, Yang, 44, said, “My father immigrated here as a graduate student and generated over 65 U.S. patents for G.E. and IBM. I think that’s a pretty good deal for the United States. That’s the immigration story we need to be telling.”
According to a new analysis by the New American Economy, a pro-immigration research and advocacy group, Yang is right. It found that 223 companies—nearly half of this year’s Fortune 500—were founded by immigrants or their children. Those companies collectively generated $6.1 trillion in revenue in 2019 and employed 13.5 million people.
Yang, who spoke for less than three minutes in the first round of the Democratic presidential debates, got more than double that time (8 minutes, 53 seconds) in round two, but still the least amount of time on July 31. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris got the most speaking time, according to the New York Times, 21 and 17 minutes, respectively. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee got 10 minutes, 48 seconds of speaking time.
Yang, who accused NBC of cutting off his microphone in round one, didn’t appear to have that same issue in round two, which aired on CNN. He was, however, criticized for being the only male candidate to go tie-less (he didn’t wear a tie in the first round of debates either).
The presidential hopeful lambasted what he called “talking heads” for focusing on his attire, rather than the substance of his performance and policies. In his closing remarks, Yang said, “We’re up here with makeup on our faces and our rehearsed attack lines playing roles in this reality TV show. It’s one reason why we elected a reality TV star as our president.”
Todd Graham, a debate coach and director of debate at Southern Illinois University, said Yang’s opening remarks were equally engaging.
“The opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math,” was the catchy line. Graham gave Yang a B grade for his performance, while giving Inslee a C.
The Root, an Afrocentric progressive online magazine, called Yang “the clear winner” of the July 31 debate, citing his plans to “fix the working economy and discussing, in very practical terms, why employers are challenged with offering healthcare benefits and how the current system plays a role in hampering their efforts in doing so.”
The debate was held in Detroit and The Root said Yang’s message resonated with the Motor City as he threw a punch at Amazon.
The key to saving traditional retail, Yang believes, is to save the mall.
“Raise your hand in the crowd if you’ve seen stores closing where you live,” he asked from the debate stage. “It is not just you. Amazon is closing 30 percent of America’s stores and malls and paying zero in taxes while doing it.”
Inslee was the first candidate on the debate stage to call President Donald Trump a racist.
“We can no longer allow a white nationalist to be in the White House,” Inslee said as candidates debated immigration policy. Democrats and some Republicans have criticized Trump in recent weeks for using Twitter to say four Democratic women in Congress should “go back” to their countries of origin.
Yang gained more Twitter followers following the July 31 debate than any other candidate—and he was the only candidate to gain more than 10,000 followers. As for qualifying for the third debate, Yang has met the fundraising threshold, and is close to meeting the polling requirements. Inslee is short on both measures.
An editorial in The Baltimore Sun said it hopes the two make the cut.
“They each have a unique and vitally important focus for their campaigns…They cut across the old fight between the party’s moderates and progressives to tackle new and fundamental threats to our society and even survival of the planet. With all due concern for health care, criminal justice, immigration, education, and all the other issues…we can’t let climate change (Inslee) or automation (Yang) fall off the radar.