Who is Yang?

What’s so great about this Andrew guy?

When a person considers voting for a presidential candidate, he or she has a mental checklist of what is needed in the Oval Office. Experience in government and relatability used to be the defining traits of what made a certain person “electable” – but things have changed in the past decade. Erik Williamson delves into why Andrew Yang’s lack of establishment experience might actually be a good thing.


Presidential candidate Andrew Yang has defied expectations and odds throughout his campaign, but many still ask what qualifies him to be President of The United States.

The common perception of what qualifies a person to be president was fundamentally challenged with the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Establishment candidates are not worth what they once were to American citizens: The people have lost a great amount of faith in the political system of the country.

What uniquely qualifies Andrew Yang for the presidency fundamentally comes down to him being an outsider to the establishment. This is highlighted by his different approaches and views to the persistent and oncoming problems we are facing as a society.

There are various problems that career politicians have been unable to effectively address, including the automation crisis, the role of special-interests in politics, and the growing resentment and tension between various political groups across the US. Given the ineffectiveness of contemporary politicians to enact meaningful change, it stands to reason someone from outside might be needed. This was, however, the same logic that got Donald Trump elected. This was due to him being the only person at the time that was considered not part of the establishment. That is no longer the case, and in Andrew Yang, Trump does indeed face a mirror version of himself, an “Anti-Trump,” as it were.

This brings up another unique qualifier in that he might be the only one that can feasibly defeat the current president in a general election. As noted by several online and official polls, and by the president himself indirectly, Yang has considerable potential to defeat Trump. He has already converted Trump supporters: In a YouGov poll conducted in July, 10% of Yang’s voter base identified as former Trump voters, and an Emerson poll from September revealed that pollsters favored Yang over Trump by 8 points, higher than Bernie (+5), Harris (+2), and Warren (-2).

With Yang being favored as capable of defeating the big orange machine, can he actually run the country? His own endeavors have shown cunning and perseverance as well as a strong ability to organize and grow. He also did not come from wealthy stock, unlike the current president. Yang being a self-made man of humble origin not only speaks to his skill but also his character and disposition. It should also be noted that he has experience in the “modern” world which many older politicians notably lack; he understands that the problems of the present (and future) cannot be solved by solutions that may have worked 50 years ago. His data driven approach and straight-forward and direct approach are also unique when contrasted with other politicians: Yang readily cites statistics and published research results to strengthen his case without repeating pandering platitudes.

Yang’s self-made actualization as a businessman, coupled with his exclusion from typical Washington politics means he is far more likely to do what is in the best interest of citizens rather than investors and financiers. His policy for Democracy Dollars, for example, is a sorely needed weapon against special interests which have dominated political discourse for decades. On the other hand, other politicians frequently hire lobbyists themselves and take such money for their own campaign needs while claiming to want to end special interests. Perhaps they are less than trustworthy, especially when such platitudes have been spoken ad nauseam for years with no change in sight. Andrew Yang might be the only one qualified to change such a thing while the current president is not motivated to do so.

Andrew Yang’s qualifications are what set him apart from his rivals in our current election cycle. He might very well be the first of many new types of candidates coming in to challenge the status quo of the Democratic Party, just as the Tea Party and ultimately Donald Trump did for the GOP in previous years. In the meantime, he continues to stand steadfast despite all odds, and even gain ground against his opponents. His ability to defy the odds might be his greatest asset as a president.


Andrew Yang was born on January 13th, 1975 in Schenectady, New York. His parents were Taiwanese immigrants who met in graduate school, with his father gaining a Ph.D in physics, and his mothers a masters degree in statistics. Andrew also has an elder brother, Lawrence, who is a Psychology professor.

Andrew Yang himself has described issues growing up due to bullying in school based on his Asian heritage. Yang has remarked that this bullying has caused him to relate more to the “underdog.” He attended boarding school before graduating from Brown University, and Columbia Law School where he earned a Juris Doctor in 1999.

Yang worked as a corporate attorney for five months before going on to start a business that he admitted was unsuccessful. However, he soon found success working as vice president of a healthcare startup. Yang later founded Venture for America, a non-profit organization to help entrepreneurs
which lead to him being recognized by the Obama administration as 2012’s “Champion of Change”.
In 2017, he announced his run for president to much skepticism, but has continued to defy expectations by steadily gaining traction and popularity.

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