Although I’ve interviewed and met Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang several times, I’ve never actually attended a rally of his. The previous time Andrew had a rally in San Francisco, I was out of town, or it was held on a weeknight and getting to San Francisco from San Jose on time would have been impossible.
I was finally able to attend one this past Sunday, and it was a blast! I was amazed and impressed with the number of Asian American supporters he had. I hate to say that it takes an Asian American candidate to get many Asian Americans politically involved, but I think that is partially true.
Although a lot of Andrew’s speech had a lot of things I’ve heard before, there’s definitely something about being there live in person as part of crowd – so much enthusiasm and energy that you can feel – much like going to a concert, musical or even to the movie theater. The one thing I would say that was new was that Andrew did bash Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) (given all the fires in the San Francisco Bay Area, some of which currently are believed to be started by PG&E:
“Andrew Yang asked a rhetorical question to his San Francisco presidential campaign rally audience Sunday on a subject that was on everyone’s minds: Why are wildfires and shut-offs happening in the most technologically advanced country in the world? … Then Yang, who has shocked the keepers of conventional wisdom with the endurance and growth of his campaign, turned serious about Pacific Gas and Electric Co.
“But PG&E is an emblem,” Yang said. “We know exactly what their incentives are: Their incentives are to cut corners and try and make as much money as possible for their shareholders.””
No one in the Bay Area is obviously a fan of PG&E, especially since they are trying to prevent electrically started fires with rolling blackouts, rather than investing in safer equipment that won’t fail and cause sparks.
I had overheard an estimate of the crowd to be around 1,500 to 2,000 attendees. The rally started off with Kevin Cadogan, founding member of the band Third Eye Blind, where he performed Andrew Yang inspired versions of Semi-Charmed Life, Jumper, and debuting an Andrew Yang inspired ‘Freedom Dividend’ original song.
Also, since I’ve been looking for Andrew Yang content on YouTube, I’ve come across Paget Kagey and also “Fred the Felon,” who is a trucker and is the founder of “Truckers for Yang,” and even brought his truck along (I believe he’s based out of Phoenix, Arizona) – and was on stage with Andrew (but didn’t speak, except very briefly to express how awesome Andrew Yang was.)
What I find so awesome about Fred is that he is not an Asian American, yet he loves Andrew Yang and his policies with a passion. It’s so exciting to see this and reminded me of a recent Washington Post opinion piece by Wesley Yang (no relations) titled ‘What Andrew Yang Means’:
“”It’s fitting that such an unexpected political movement would have an Asian American man as its underdog figurehead. Yang is a stand-in — and hero — for all the people who have acquired a deep understanding of how things actually work while toiling away in the obscurity where others are content to keep them confined, running the technical infrastructure. That’s the role in which we are most habituated to seeing Americans of Asian descent: hyper-competent but deferential, best suited for those essential but essentially subordinate roles — and no other.
Yang has cracked the code on how to be something that doesn’t have much precedent in our political culture: an Asian American man able to summon and inspire large, enthusiastic crowds across the country in support of his bid for national leadership, charismatic enough to commandeer a spotlight that no one had wanted to train on him. After interviewing him, Politico senior politics editor Charlie Mahtesian tweeted: “Yang was much better than some of the veteran pols we’ve seen before in the office — easy to see why he’s got a following. Authentic, comfortable in his own skin, able to articulate a coherent reason for running, minimal amount of b.s. in answers to a wide range of questions.” (Two other Democratic contenders, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii) and Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.), have Asian roots but don’t conspicuously frame themselves as Asian American candidates.)”
Also, another thing that was announced by Andrew was that his wife, Evelyn, would be hitting the campaign trail starting next week, which I think is awesome. Some backstory as to how they met:
“While studying abroad in Shanghai, Evelyn she befriended Eileen Lee, who would become the COO of Venture for America, the non-profit Andrew launched that trains young people on entrepreneurship. He credits Evelyn with encouraging him to launch Venture For America—she thought Lee would work well with Andrew, and put the two in contact.
“[Evelyn] and I had both left corporate jobs after 5+ years, and I was in the midst of pivoting my career when I met with him,” Lee told Medium. “I was looking to focus on building something that would help people. After hearing about the idea over dinner, Andrew offered me a job. I called him the next day and said I was in.””
Much like how Michelle Obama helped define Barack Obama as a candidate, especially as a loving African American couple with kids that they deeply care for, this is an opportunity for America to see an Asian American couple with kids as a regular loving family, a part of the fabric of America.
After the rally ended, there was a brief gaggle for the press to ask Andrew some questions.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have an external microphone and could not hear some of the questions being asked or some of the answers.
After the gaggle, Andrew engaged the crowd to take photos and selfies with his supporters,
After taking a good number of photos, Andrew left for another engagement.
If you’re a Yang supporter – or even just curious – definitely try to make it to a rally – they’re a lot of fun and I personally like Andrew’s sense of humor. He definitely does not take himself too seriously.