Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang speaks during the second night of the first Democratic presidential debate on Thursday, June 27, 2019, at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida.

Andrew Yang is perhaps the most unique candidate of all the Democratic candidates. Yang has no political experience, wasn’t a major media figure (Marianne Williamson) or political donor (Tom Steyer). Yet despite this, Yang has outlasted senators, governors and representatives. How did this little-known entrepreneur suddenly gain enough hype to be a top 10 finalist for the nomination of the 2020 Democrat Candidate for President?

People point out his group of supporters known as the “Yang Gang,” who are known for their diehard support of Yang on Twitter. Others point out to his proposed Universal Basic Income (UBI) policy, which would give all adults in the United States $1,000 per month.

Yet, Yang has something going for him; something that is much larger than policy proposals. I believe Yang is a genuine and caring individual. That is something that has been missing in politics for a long time.

If you look at Yang’s Twitter feed, it’s filled with colorful, positive tweets about himself, his supporters or policies.

But more than that, he shows genuine emotion. During a Everytown Gun Safety Town Hall last month, Yang cried when answering a question from a mother who told him about the death of her four year-old daughter from a stray bullet, and that the twin brother witnessed the shooting. Yang would explain that he became emotional since he could imagine his own children being the victims of gun violence.

It’s generally welcoming to see a political figure sympathize with an individual, not for political gain, but because they actually care.

Another quality about Yang is that he won’t smear the opposing political side and is willing to hear from others. Unlike other Democrat candidates, Yang understands that not all Trump supporters are a bunch of racist, homophobic xenophobes.

“My problem is with our President - not his supporters. A lot of people who supported Trump are now part of the #YangGang and it gives me a lot of joy, hope and pride.”

The other candidates would be wise to follow Yang’s lead. The states of Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin all voted for Obama twice, only to vote for Trump in 2016.

Yang has appeared on several podcasts that aren’t exactly favorably Democrat. Yang has appeared on Joe Rogan, Dave Rubin and Ben Shapiro’s podcasts. On all three podcasts Yang and the hosts receive a positive experience, despite having different political views.

To me, Yang has brought something to the national conversation that hasn’t been discussed for a long time: autism. One of the major complaints is that people with disabilities are often stigmatized. Yang has a son who is on the autism spectrum, which inspired him to have a platform that funds autism intervention. Seeing a candidate for president attempt to address autism really means a lot to people who have disabilities like myself.

Overall, Yang and I don’t agree on a lot. However, Yang has a lot more going for him than just policy, and that’s why I’m rooting for him. 

Opinion Editor

Schell-Olsen has been with The News Record since Aug. 2018. He frequently writes about politics, society and elections.