Alice Lin: Yin and Yang: Restoring the order of politics

Tuesday, September 10, 2019 - 2:49pm

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At the first Democratic debate, he proposed giving $1,000 to every American over 18. This is an idea that few presidential candidates have advocated for as openly as Andrew Yang.

At the second Democratic debate, he presented himself as the antithesis of President Donald Trump. “... an Asian man who likes math,” Yang said, drawing cheers from the crowd.

Throughout the 2020 race, Andrew Yang has consistently distinguished himself from long-established politicians currently dominating the field. With a kind of honesty hard to find in politics these days, he seems to genuinely care about putting the people first. As Yang explained in the second debate, politicians are getting caught up with what he called “political theater” and losing sight of what is important. At these debates, policy is neglected as those on stage are fighting to come up with the best comebacks for a few memorable seconds. It’s tiring to see candidates attacking each other when they should be trying to convince us to vote for them. Yang, however, stays focused on what he believes in — helping the people — and never wavers in reminding us through every response he gives. Amid the chaos of Joe Biden takedowns, Yang always manages to bring back the discussion to the central issue and educate people about it.  

While all of these candidates are running as the solution to replacing Trump, their success is contingent on what they have to offer and on what makes them stand out. At the end of this campaign cycle, the final nominee will have won their spot because they were able to convince the American people they can deliver what is best for the country. As voters, we should look for a candidate who cares about fixing our problems, and Yang is slowly convincing me he is the one. Throughout this race, Yang is slowly bringing change to the way we see politics and setting a standard for the kind of political leader we need. From the start, he has been different from the others with his complete transparency in describing issues and how he plans to solve them. Despite being a political outsider, he manages to command respect, politely sharing what he has to offer without stepping on the other candidates. With Yang, it is refreshing to see someone up on the stage who is rising above party politics to bring a “Humanity First” campaign. His goal here is to fight for the people and solve problems that affect Americans, not to bring a political party back to power. This is the direction that politics should be moving in, away from partisanship and towards securing the future of the people that politicians represent.

In addition to affecting political change, Yang is also a fighter. If his campaign journey shows us anything, it’s that he has potential to be an underdog. As a former entrepreneur with no political experience, he had less than three minutes to speak in the first debate. The lack of airtime is unfortunate; with the amount of proposals listed on his website, Yang could give fellow candidate Elizabeth Warren a run for her money for having a plan for everything. His proposed policies cover everything from family needs to federal reforms, and he even provides a section of miscellaneous ideas tailored to improving everyday lives. No other candidate has as many ideas as thorough and detailed as Yang’s. America needs a leader who is able to deliver what they are promising and is transparent with the people in how those plans will be achieved. Clearly, Yang’s leadership qualities have spoken to the people; he has been performing far better than anyone expected from a political novice and became the ninth candidate to qualify for the next debate.

Despite his lack of political experience, Yang has proven himself to be an educated and eloquent speaker. He can tie everything from health care to climate change back to his central point: lifting up the American people. While I think providing $1,000 to those over 18 would never work on a national scale, he has slowly led me to the realization that our economic problems are the root causes of all of our other issues. It really does seem simple from Yang's point of view: If we work to improve American lives economically, we are a step closer to equality on so many levels. We can stop scapegoating immigrants for the loss of jobs, healthcare can be affordable, and we can actually address racial inequality beginning with the wealth gap. Yang is a forward-thinker and anticipates new issues, showing us, while he is aware of our present problems, he is already looking to fix upcoming ones like the implications of artificial intelligence.

I know it is unlikely Yang will secure the Democratic nomination. America is still far from being ready for such a straightforward leader like Yang, much less an Asian-American president. But even if he falls flat in the primaries, he has shown himself to be the type of leader we need. Throughout this race, he has brought a new perspective to politics, challenging our current system with his honesty. At the very least, his foresight has made us more aware of the imminent problems and pointed us in the direction of finding a candidate who is focused on the bigger picture for the future. If we can learn anything from Yang’s platform, it is that we need to progress forward, and we need a leader who can lead that movement. American politics needs to move in the right direction, away from the last few years of hatred and divisiveness and toward acceptance and unity. As part of a generation finally able to vote, we should take Yang’s message to heart: “Not left, not right, but forward.” 

Alice Lin can be reached at alicelin@umich.edu.