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23 September 2017 - 25 March 2018, -
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An Asian-American man has thrown his name into the hat and started his campaign to be the next United States president in 2020.
Andrew Yang 43, has filed his official paperwork with the Federal Election Commission in November 2017.
Who is Andrew Yang?
Yang is a well-connected New York businessman. He is a former tech executive.
An extrovert who is fast-talking, he graduated from Brown University and Columbia Law School, but quit his job in a big law firm after less than a year, when he was 25, to work in tech.
The first dot-com bust saw his internet start-up fail.
He subsequently worked as an executive at a healthcare start-up and then built a test-prep business — an education company — that was acquired by Kaplan in 2009.
He received a modest payout.
In 2011, he started Venture for America to train hundreds of enterprising recent graduates as entrepreneurs to build businesses.
He became interested in politics.
He is now married with two boys.
What is his political stance?
Yang does not have a well-known public profile. Or, at least, not yet.
His attempt at becoming US president has been described by the New York Times as a longer-than-long-shot bid.
His political views are unique though in 2018.
He believes automation will cause tens of millions of Americans to lose their jobs in the coming years and this will lead to economic depression and social upheaval.
His campaign wants to make universal basic income a reality by giving Americans aged 18 to 64, US$1,000 a month, regardless of income or employment status.
This amount brings people up to the poverty line.
Yang thinks he can sell the idea in Washington as a pro-business policy.
What are people saying about him?
To Washington insiders, wonks and the institutionalised media, Yang’s views appear alarmist and he is seen as a tech-sceptic candidate — both unpalatable and fashionable in the 2018 politically-charged climate.
He is also currently starting his campaign with a public profile deficit, as he is not well-known to begin with.
Adding to this disadvantage is that even though he said he is socially-liberal, he has yet to develop all of his views.
His idea of implementing a universal basic income is also not new. It has proponents in Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and Marc Andreessen.
And there are many who are ahead of him in terms of policy and public profile — Bernie Sanders being one of them.
Critics who dismiss Yang the futurist will look at his universal basic income proposal with dismay.
The math of coughing up US$12,000 per American per year would cost the country US$2 trillion.
Yang has proposed paying for this amount with a value-added tax. The money will be raised from companies that profited from automation.
Moreover, his “Humanity First” campaign slogan is lofty.
What does he have going for him?
Yang will be a memorable candidate — at least for the Asians living in America. Asians around the world watching US affairs unfold might also be moved.
Asians, who form a good majority of the world’s population, will now have an aspirational figure to look up to as he is seeking the highest public office in the land.
And by wanting to run on the Democratic ticket, this will make Yang the first Asian-American man to campaign for president as a Democrat.
Bobby Jindal, a fellow Asian, ran as a Republican a few years ago.
Fundraising-wise, Yang has so far, by February 2018, raised US$130,000 from high-profile donors — venture capitalists and alumni from Google and Facebook.
As founder and CEO of Venture for America, he was invited to the White House to meet President Barack Obama and was named a Presidential Ambassador of Global Entrepreneurship.
Andrew Yang’s campaign website is at www.yang2020.com.
All photos via Andrew Yang