By Ruth Bayang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang said it was an “honor and a disappointment” to be the only non-white candidate on the debate stage on Dec. 19.
“I miss Kamala [Harris], I miss Cory [Booker] — though I think Cory will be back,” Yang said, prompting applause from the audience.
The technology entrepreneur then rattled off statistics about the lack of Black and Latino wealth and how that hampers those groups donating to politicians. Then he brought it back to his campaign’s theme — a guaranteed government income for all.
“I guarantee if we had a freedom dividend of $1,000 a month, I would not be the only candidate of color on this stage tonight,” Yang said.
It was the final Democratic debate of 2019, of which only seven people, including Yang, qualified — making the smallest face-off to date.
The first question out of the gate was about last week’s House impeachment of Donald Trump. But the answer from the Democratic candidates was about electability. Most candidates had no answer to their party’s biggest challenge — getting Trump’s voters to abandon him over his conduct.
Only Yang gave an explanation for why impeachment hasn’t changed minds.
“We have to stop being obsessed about impeachment, which strikes many Americans like a ball game where you know what the score will be.”
Instead, Yang said, the party has to grapple with the issues that got Trump elected — the loss of good jobs.
When the candidates debated complex foreign policy, Yang talked about his family in Hong Kong, the horror of China’s crackdown there, and how to pressure them to respect human rights. When some candidates equivocated over whether nuclear energy should be used to combat climate change, Yang had the last word when he said, “We need to have everything on the table in a crisis situation.”
As in previous debates, Yang had the least amount of speaking time at 10 minutes, 44 seconds.
Bernie Sanders had the most, almost double that of Yang’s at just over 20 minutes. Amy Klobuchar had 19 minutes, 48 seconds; Elizabeth Warren, 19 minutes, 28 seconds; South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, 19 minutes, 18 seconds; Joe Biden, 16 minutes, 8 seconds; and Tom Steyer, 11 minutes, 26 seconds.
On Dec. 20, the Democratic National Committee announced there will be an increase in the polling and donor thresholds to participate in the seventh debate, which will be held on Jan. 14, 2020 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Only five candidates have qualified so far: Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Sanders, and Warren.