He’s no longer in the race. But Andrew Yang’s run for president will have a lasting impact on the Asian American community, especially those with aspirations for political office.
He dropped out after the New Hampshire primary earlier this month, but no other presidential candidate of Chinese descent has gotten as far or lasted as long as Yang. He even outlasted a political veteran like fellow candidate of Asian descent, Sen. Kamala Harris of California. The only remaining candidate of Asian descent is Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii.
Anthony Ocampo, a sociologist who focuses on race, immigration, and LGBTQ issues, told NBC News, “The optics of an Asian American candidate commanding such widespread support, both in rallies and on social media, signals to aspiring Asian American politicians that there is a pathway for them—that they can legitimately aim for the highest office in the nation.”
Ergo: it’s possible. No one had reached the top of Mount Everest until 1953. Since then, more than 4,000 people have done it.
Asian Americans have historically been stereotyped as good workers, good followers, not leaders. Yang changed all that.
“We can actually be seen as those who are politically active and are looking to run for office,” said Christine Chen, director of the nonprofit Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote, in a recent interview with NPR. “In addition, [Yang] was able to galvanize a new segment of the Asian American population to actually become donors, as well as to actually get involved in canvassing operations and getting involved.” Chen also gives Yang credit for galvanizing a new segment of a population of donors, young donors specifically, who have never participated in the past.
But he didn’t win, naysayers might say.
Correct. But he definitely increased the visibility of Asian Americans, and again, planted the seed in the minds of voters that an Asian American can be president. We can be leaders, not just followers.
And the point isn’t to win. I don’t think anybody really thought that Andrew Yang could win this election cycle. Perhaps in a future one.
Yang also brought artificial intelligence (AI) into American politics.
“We stood on the debate stage and shifted our national conversation to include the fourth industrial revolution, a topic no one wanted to touch until we made it happen here with this campaign,” Yang said in a speech announcing his departure. “We highlighted the real problems in our communities as our economy is being transformed before our eyes by technology and automation, and Americans know now that when you go to a factory in Michigan, you do not find wall-to-wall immigrants doing work. You find wall-to-wall robot arms and machines doing the work that people used to do.”
Thank you, Andrew Yang, for your humanity first campaign, and the focus on solutions, not problems.
Maybe we’ll see you again in 2024.