PARTY LINES: Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang will share some of his campaign promises with donors at a Nov. 10 hosted by Yue-Sai Kan at her New York apartment.
A proponent of fashion in China and the founder of the Yue-Sai Kan China Beauty Charity Fund, Kan said, “The short of it all is it is extremely rare that we hear of an Asian-American person running for president. It was so long ago that the first one ran — Hiram Fong, a senator from Hawaii [in 1964 and again in 1968]. Of course, he didn’t get anywhere [in 1964],” she said.
Yang was born in New York and his parents had emigrated from Taiwan in the Sixties. Kan said of his candidacy, “Nobody is really paying attention [to him]. The only thing people can remember is that he gives away $1,000 to everybody.” That refers to his proposal of a monthly “Freedom Dividend” to all U.S. residents 18 and older, which would create two million jobs by his estimates. The initiative is meant to offset automation-driven job displacement.
“I love his message. It is ‘Not Right, Not Left, Forward.’ That clearly marks that he doesn’t want to be associated with anybody else.” she said.
As for those who would argue that candidates should not be chosen based on their backgrounds, Kan said, “Of course, you should not. But from my perspective, I am still Chinese-American. His background is a selling point for me. There is no question about it, because we are so miserably represented in the U.S. government. It is so delightful and admirable for somebody to come out and say, ‘I am a small minority. I am Chinese-American but I want to be president.’”
A self-described “entrepreneur who understands the economy,” Yang’s official site describes how more than 4 million U.S. jobs have been destroyed and millions more will be eliminated in the next five to 10 years. By his estimate, a third of all American workers are at risk of permanent unemployment and the jobs will not come back.
Kan compared Yang’s run to many voters’ initial reaction to Barack Obama’s first presidential bid “when people said, ‘Nobody will vote for a black president.’” Speaking of Yang, she said, “It is such a refreshing change and idea. Why not?”
Earlier this week one of Yang’s rivals, Pete Buttigieg, mingled with a fashion crowd at the God’s Love We Deliver Golden Heart Awards ceremony. There have also been rumblings of an actual industry executive showing interest in getting into the 2020 presidential race. Dick’s Sporting Goods chief executive officer Edward Stack is said to be testing focus groups for a third-party candidacy. Executives at DSG did not respond immediately Thursday to a request for comment regarding those reports. Stack has been in the news for his recently released book “It’s How We Play the Game: Build a Business. Take a Stand. Make a Difference.” The 700-plus retail chain pulled AR-15 assault rifles and destroyed $5 million worth of guns after the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. It also raised the age for buying guns in its stores to 21, after last year’s Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla. DSG is now considering banning the sale of guns.
Yang, a former tech executive who has garnered support from Silicon Valley leaders like Zappos’ Tony Hsieh, has been gaining ground via the Internet. Kan said, “He is obviously very interesting to a lot of young people. Today he is getting a lot of grassroots support through the Internet. We have been watching his ascent. He had no traction at the very beginning. He is never going to be beholden to some big industrial leader. He is getting $100,000 a day through the Internet alone. He is really a candidate for the people. He is not going to be beholden to anybody because people can give him $5 or $10.”