|Friends of Andrew Yang|
|Campaign||2020 United States presidential election (Democratic Party primaries)|
Founder of Venture for America
|Launched||November 6, 2017|
|Suspended||February 11, 2020|
|Headquarters||New York City, New York|
|Key people||Zach Graumann (Campaign Manager)|
Muhan Zhang (Chief Operating Officer)
Nick Ryan (Campaign Chief)
Jared Volz (Deputy Campaign Manager)
Randy Jones (Political Director)
Carly Reilly (National Finance Director)
Shelby Summerfield (Director of Scheduling and Advance)
Jermaine Johnson (South Carolina Campaign Chair)
Jonathan Herzog (Iowa Campaign Coordinator)
Drew Corbitt (Director of Distributed Organizing)
Shaun Looney (Director of Distributed Organizing)
Zach Fang (Field Director)
Matthew Shinners (Communications Director)
Madalin Sammons (Communications Director)
Rachel Barnhart (Deputy Press Secretary)
Hilary Kinney (Deputy Press Secretary)
Not Left, Not Right, Forward
A New Way Forward
Make America Think Harder
The 2020 presidential campaign of Andrew Yang, an attorney, entrepreneur, and the founder of Venture for America, began on November 6, 2017, when Yang filed with the Federal Election Commission to participate in the Democratic primaries. Yang suspended his campaign on February 11, 2020, the night of the New Hampshire primary. On March 10, 2020, Yang endorsed Joe Biden for president.
In April 2018, Yang released The War on Normal People, a book discussing job displacement, automation, and universal basic income (UBI), which are central to his campaign. Initially considered a longshot candidate, Yang gained significant support in early 2019 after appearing on the popular podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience. He later appeared on numerous other podcasts, shows, and interviews during his campaign. Yang's rise in notability was accompanied by the development of a devoted online fanbase that was known as the "Yang Gang". In 2019, his campaign raised $1.7 million, $2.8 million, $10 million, and $16.5 million in the first, second, third, and fourth quarters, respectively. In 2020, Yang raised $6.7 million in January before suspending his campaign in February. Yang ultimately received about $41.6 million over the course of his campaign. Yang qualified for and participated in all six Democratic primary debates held in 2019. In 2020, Yang did not meet the polling requirement for the seventh debate, but he later qualified for and participated in the eighth debate.
Yang's campaign strongly focused on the displacement of American workers through automation, a problem Yang stated was a major reason Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election. To remedy this, Yang proposed the "Freedom Dividend," a monthly UBI of $1,000 to every American adult. Another key aspect of his candidacy was what he called "Human-Centered Capitalism", which would have replaced several traditional economic metrics with an "American Scorecard". Yang initially supported Medicare for All, but later proposed preserving private health insurance. On electoral reform, Yang supported ranked-choice voting and the implementation of "Democracy Dollars" to drown out corporate donations. Yang proposed a version of the Green New Deal that would reduce dependence on fossil fuels through policies such as a carbon tax and support for nuclear power. Yang's other policies included the decriminalization of opiates and legalization of cannabis, support for abortion rights and LGBT rights, and stricter gun control measures.
Yang graduated from Brown University in 1996, concentrating in economics and political science. He then attended Columbia Law School, earning a Juris Doctor in 1999. In 2011, Yang founded Venture for America (VFA), a nonprofit organization that encourages entrepreneurship by matching recent college graduates with startups in various cities across the United States. In 2012, President Barack Obama recognized Yang as a "Champion of Change" for his work with VFA. In 2015, Obama further recognized Yang as a "Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship". Yang stepped down as VFA's leader in March 2017.
Yang stated that he first took an interest in universal basic income (UBI) after reading Martin Ford's book Rise of the Robots. Andy Stern's book, Raising the Floor, further persuaded Yang to support UBI.
Yang's candidacy began on November 6, 2017, when he filed with the Federal Election Commission to participate in the Democratic primaries. Andrew Yang was the second Democrat to announce his candidacy for the presidency. The campaign began with a small initial staff working out of an apartment owned by Yang's mother. He ran on the slogans "Humanity First" and "Make America Think Harder" (MATH). According to BBC, Yang was "one of the first and most recognizable East Asian-Americans in history to run for president". He stated that he hoped his "campaign can inspire Asian Americans to be engaged in politics." Had he been nominated, he would have become the first Asian American to serve as any major party's presidential candidate, and had he been elected, he would have become the first Asian-American president.
On April 3, 2018, Yang released The War on Normal People, a book discussing technological change, automation, job displacement, the economy, and the need for a UBI. In a press release on April 19, 2018, he announced that he would be personally giving one resident of New Hampshire $1,000 per month in 2019 to show the effectiveness of his UBI policy, the "Freedom Dividend". He announced that he would do the same thing in Iowa in 2019. On August 10, 2018, Yang was a keynote speaker at the largest Democratic fundraiser in Iowa, the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding. In 2018, he made seven trips to Iowa and six trips to New Hampshire, the first two states to vote in the primaries.
In early 2019, Yang's campaign was called a "longshot" by several media outlets, including Fox News,Washington Examiner, and Vox; Yang soon appeared on several noted outlets and podcasts, including The Joe Rogan Experience, The Breakfast Club,The Ben Shapiro Show, and Tucker Carlson Tonight.
Yang's appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience has been credited as a major turning point in his campaign. Several media sources also attributed Yang's rise in notability to his large group of online supporters, who informally referred to themselves as the Yang Gang and made a large number of Internet memes about Yang and his campaign.
Following his sudden rise in notability, Yang attracted the interest of some prominent alt-right figures and many users of /pol/, a forum on 4chan that is notorious for its alt-right politics. Yang himself denounced any support from the alt-right. In an interview with The New York Times, Yang said that he is "getting support from quarters [he] wouldn't have expected"; regarding support from the alt-right in particular, he said "It's uncomfortable. They're antithetical to everything I stand for." Yang stated that he was confused by the support he had from the alt-right, because he doesn't "look much like a white nationalist".
On March 8, Yang discussed his proposals, including the Freedom Dividend, Medicare for All, and "the American scorecard", at a rally in Austin, Texas. On March 15, he spoke about the Freedom Dividend at a rally in San Francisco.
On April 10, Yang discussed the Freedom Dividend, automation, and a "new benchmark for economic health" at a rally in Boston. On April 14, he appeared on a CNN town hall to talk about the Freedom Dividend, monitoring malicious speech, legalizing marijuana, and decriminalizing certain opiates. On April 16, he spoke at a rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Business Insider noted that he was engaging with the audience throughout. On April 18, Yang discussed topics including voter rights, election security, and abortion at a rally in Atlanta. On April 22, he spoke about the Freedom Dividend in a rally in Los Angeles. On April 23, he discussed the Freedom Dividend, environmental protection, and job displacement through automation at a rally in Las Vegas.
On May 3, Yang spoke about the Freedom Dividend and job displacement at a rally in Seattle. On May 4, Yang discussed automation, the Freedom Dividend, Medicare for All, and "Human-Centered Capitalism" at a rally in Detroit. On May 5, Yang spoke at a rally in Minneapolis. The same day, he appeared on The Today Show, discussing the economy, automation, and the Freedom Dividend. On May 14, he discussed the Freedom Dividend, automation, and Donald Trump voters at a rally in New York City. On June 4, Yang spoke about his three main policies--the Freedom Dividend, Medicare for All, and Human-Centered Capitalism--in an interview with Bloomberg Politics. On June 7, he appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher, discussing job displacement caused by automation and identity politics. On June 17, Yang discussed issues affecting low-income Americans at the Poor People's Campaign Presidential Forum. On June 18, he appeared on MSNBC's MTP Daily to discuss automation, the Freedom Dividend, the economy, and foreign policy. On June 21 and 22, Yang spoke at two forums in South Carolina--the South Carolina Democratic Party convention and the "We Decide: 2020 Election Membership Forum". He discussed various topics, including the Freedom Dividend, abortion, and reproductive health care. On June 25, he went on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to talk about topics including the Freedom Dividend, automation, and free marriage counseling.
On July 8, Yang appeared on The View to discuss the retail and manufacturing industries, the Freedom Dividend, the economy, and various social subtopics. On July 13, he discussed the Freedom Dividend at a rally in Portland, Oregon. On July 19, Yang spoke at a forum in Iowa co-hosted by the AARP and The Des Moines Register. He talked about issues affecting older voters in Iowa--including high drug prices, the lack of avenues for holistic treatments, low retirement savings, and age discrimination--as well as solutions, including the Freedom Dividend, improving financial literacy, and legalizing marijuana. On July 25, Yang was interviewed by Trevor Noah on The Daily Show, discussing the Freedom Dividend, automation, and the economy. On July 28, he spoke about his campaign and the Freedom Dividend on Fox News Sunday.
On August 2, Yang talked about the Freedom Dividend, automation, and climate change on Velshi & Ruhle. Following two mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, he offered condolences and advocated for "common sense gun safety laws". On August 7, he appeared on the H3 Podcast, discussing gun control, the Freedom Dividend, automation, and the economy. On August 9, Yang spoke at the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair. He discussed the Freedom Dividend, "highlighted the technological advances in Iowa", and proposed to make Tax Day a national holiday. During the Presidential Gun Sense Forum hosted by Everytown for Gun Safety in Des Moines, Iowa on August 10, Yang "became visibly emotional when discussing gun violence prevention with a woman who said she lost her daughter to a stray bullet". The story was reported by numerous media outlets, including The Independent,The Hill, and Washington Examiner. Writing for CNN, Chris Cillizza praised Yang, saying that Yang's crying "is a good thing. I've long advocated that politicians showing emotion is something we need more of (not less of) in our politics and our culture."
On August 12, Yang appeared on Anderson Cooper 360°, discussing gun control, lobbying in the US government, and "democracy dollars"--Yang's proposal of an annual grant of $100 for every US adult that can only be spent on candidates and campaigns that would drown out corporate money from organizations, such as the NRA, by a factor of eight to one. On August 15, he visited the South Carolina Lowcountry to speak about the Freedom Dividend, as well as "immigration, gun control, health care, and protecting American jobs". On August 16, Yang visited Plaistow, New Hampshire to discuss topics including the Freedom Dividend, automation, the economy, and various subtopics. On August 18, he appeared on Face the Nation to discuss foreign policy, automation, and the Freedom Dividend. On August 19, Yang appeared on The NPR Politics Podcast to talk about a wide range of topics, including attracting Donald Trump voters, Asian identity, and climate change. On August 23, he spoke at the summer meeting of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), discussing automation, job displacement, the economy, and the Freedom Dividend. On August 26, Yang released his climate change plan, which involved nuclear power, zero-emission transportation, geoengineering, a carbon tax, and a renewable electric grid. On August 29, he appeared on Cuomo Prime Time to discuss the Freedom Dividend, immigration, and automation.
On September 4, Yang appeared on the CNN Climate Crisis Town Hall to discuss global warming and climate change. He proposed several solutions, including rejoining the Paris Agreement; adding environmental indicators to economic measurements; implementing democracy dollars, the Freedom Dividend, and a carbon tax; and funding thorium-based nuclear power plants. On September 5, Yang appeared on CBS This Morning to talk about his campaign and debate performances, the American Dream, automation, and the Freedom Dividend. On September 7, he spoke about automation, the economy, job displacement, and the Freedom Dividend at the New Hampshire Democratic Party Convention. On September 8, Yang was one of only three Democratic candidates to speak at the AAPI Democratic Presidential Forum. He discussed issues affecting Asian Pacific Americans, including health care, "immigration, the economy and income inequality, as well as the rising influence of Asian Americans as a voting bloc". On September 12 before the third Democratic debate, he appeared on The Daily to discuss automation and the Freedom Dividend.
On September 15, Yang appeared on State of the Union, talking about his proposal during the third debate to give Freedom Dividends to 10 American families, and racism against Asian Americans. The same day, he appeared on Ryan Higa's Off the Pill podcast to discuss the Freedom Dividend, democracy dollars, climate change, and foreign policy. On September 16, Yang spoke about the economy and the Freedom Dividend at a rally in Boston. On September 17, he discussed union workers and "key labor issues" at the Workers' Presidential Summit hosted by the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO. The same day, he made a general-election pitch at a rally in Philadelphia. On September 19, Yang appeared on the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast to discuss "his campaign strategy, internal polling", and the Freedom Dividend. The same day, he spoke about solutions to climate change during MSNBC's Climate Forum. On September 20, Yang appeared on Late Night with Seth Meyers to discuss his campaign, the Freedom Dividend, and Human-Centered Capitalism. The same day, he appeared on Firing Line with Margaret Hoover to discuss automation, the economy, the Freedom Dividend, and Human-Centered Capitalism. On September 21, Yang attended the Iowa steak fry, and spoke about the Freedom Dividend and access to health care during an interview with NowThis News. The same day, he appeared on The Van Jones Show, discussing topics including the Freedom Dividend, Donald Trump, and racial identity.
On September 22, Yang spoke about "issues important to students and young voters" at "Youth Voice: The Iowa Caucus" in Iowa. The same day, his campaign opened two campaign offices in Des Moines and Davenport, Iowa. He also joined Krystal Ball on Rising (hosted by The Hill), discussing topics including his campaign, the Freedom Dividend, Human-Centered Capitalism, drug decriminalization, and labor union rights. On September 24, Yang appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show to discuss the just-announced impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump, campaign polling, and the issues that got Trump elected. On September 26, he again appeared on The View, and also visited Peterborough, New Hampshire to discuss job displacement through automation and the Freedom Dividend. On September 30, he spoke about automation and the Freedom Dividend at a rally in Los Angeles.
On October 1, Yang appeared on The Real to discuss the Freedom Dividend, health care, and job displacement.[a] On October 2, he appeared on Speakeasy with John Harwood to discuss his campaign, the economy, capitalism, and the Freedom Dividend. The same day, he spoke at MSNBC's Gun Safety Forum in Las Vegas and offered several solutions: democracy dollars to counter gun lobby influence, the Freedom Dividend to "reduce gun violence by reducing economic pressure on households", and "divesting from policing and prisons and reinvesting in communities hit by gun violence". On October 5, Yang attended the Blue Jamboree rally in North Charleston, South Carolina, "speaking to voters on a number of issues affecting the state". On October 7, he was interviewed by Alyssa Milano on her podcast Sorry Not Sorry to discuss topics including education, Freedom Dividend, Human-Centered Capitalism, infrastructure, and health care. On October 9, Yang talked with Eric Weinstein on his podcast, The Portal. On October 11, he appeared on The Dr. Oz Show to discuss his campaign, mental health issues, health care, and the Freedom Dividend. On October 13, Yang appeared on CBS News Sunday Morning to talk about job displacement, the economy, and the Freedom Dividend. The same day, he spoke about automation, the economy, and the Freedom Dividend at the Ohio Democratic Party's State Dinner fundraiser.
On October 16, Yang appeared in a post-debate interview on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer On October 17, he appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show to discuss impeachment, foreign policy, and UBI. On October 18, he conducted a ten-hour Q&A session through several online platforms, including a live stream, Reddit and Twitter. On October 19, he discussed the Freedom Dividend and climate change in an interview with NPR. On October 21, Yang spoke about his "Humanity First" platform, as well as the Freedom Dividend, Human-Centered Capitalism, and "his views on the mounting crisis of the automation of labor", at a National Press Club event. The same day, he was interviewed by Robert Costa of The Washington Post, talking about his campaign, the Freedom Dividend, Medicare for All, foreign policy, and various subtopics. On October 23, Yang spoke at a town hall in New Hampshire. On October 24, he appeared in a town hall hosted by WGBH News. On October 26, he discussed issues facing Nevada voters at the Nevada Presidential People's Forum. On October 27, he spoke at a rally in San Francisco. On October 29, Yang was interviewed by CNN's Don Lemon, discussing impeachment and his campaign. On October 31, he appeared on WQHT ("HOT 97") to discuss his views on recent events and clarify policy positions.
On November 1, Yang hosted a campaign rally in Des Moines, during which Rivers Cuomo and Scott Shriner of Weezer performed several songs. The same day, he spoke at the Liberty and Justice Celebration in Des Moines. On November 2, he opened a new office in Iowa City, and spoke at an NAACP forum in Des Moines and a disability forum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. On November 3, Yang and his wife, Evelyn, appeared in a joint interview on State of the Union. The same day, he discussed the Freedom Dividend, health care, and impeachment on Meet the Press. On November 4, Yang spoke at a rally at George Mason University in Virginia. On November 7, he appeared on a forum hosted by New Hampshire Public Radio. On November 8, he appeared on CNN's New Day to discuss Michael Bloomberg's potential entry into the 2020 race. On November 14, Yang wrote an opinion piece on The New York Times discussing job displacement and the effects of automation. He offers the Freedom Dividend and Human-Centered Capitalism as solutions to automation. On November 16, he spoke at the California Democratic Party State Convention. On November 17 in Las Vegas, he held a rally and spoke at the Nevada Democratic Party's "First in the West" event. On November 18, Yang appeared on Erin Burnett OutFront to discuss marijuana legalization, the disadvantages of a wealth tax, and the appeal of his campaign to different voters. On November 20, he was interviewed by Dominique Wilkins on Halftime. The same day, he appeared in an interview on NBC Nightly News. On November 23, he appeared in an interview with The State to discuss his campaign in South Carolina, the Democratic party, and Donald Trump.
On December 3, Yang held a rally at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, New Hampshire. On December 5, he spoke at a rally at the University of Illinois at Chicago. As of December 5, 2019 , Yang has 13 campaign offices in Iowa. On December 12, he appeared on Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj. On December 14, Yang unveiled a health care plan for children and adults with disabilities. On December 18, he appeared on The Ellen Show. The same day, he appeared on Freakonomics, his second appearance and first since January. On December 19, Yang collaborated with Donald Glover to set up a one-time pop-up store in Los Angeles. Glover also joined Yang's campaign as a "creative consultant". On December 20, Yang appeared on the H3 Podcast for the second time.
After failing to get on the ballot for the March 17 Ohio primary, Yang announced a write-in campaign. He said that his supporters had gathered three times the required signatures, but "because of a bureaucratic paperwork issue caused by an awkwardly-worded law, nearly 3,000 Ohioans' First Amendment rights have been denied." According to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, "when Ohioans sign a petition, they deserve to know what they're signing. This is why petition forms must be submitted, complete with a statement from the candidate stating their intention to run. By their own admission, the Yang campaign failed to do that." On January 7, Yang's campaign staff unionized. On January 15, Evan Low, a member of the California State Assembly, became a national co-chair of Yang's campaign.
On January 23, former Democratic candidate Marianne Williamson announced that she would support Yang in the Iowa caucuses, but noted that it was not an endorsement. Yang responded on Twitter, thanking Williamson and praising her approach. On January 24, she introduced him at a campaign event in Fairfield, Iowa. On January 26, he appeared on Fox News Sunday to discuss expectations for the Iowa caucuses. On January 30, during a speech in Dubuque, Iowa, Yang became visibly emotional as he reflected on the last two years of his campaign. Additionally, Dave Chappelle performed two comedy shows for Yang's campaign in South Carolina.
According to The Des Moines Register Candidate Tracker, Yang appeared at 78 events in Iowa in January and 14 events in Iowa in February. On February 2, Yang appeared on This Week; on potentially pardoning Donald Trump, he called the pattern of new presidents prosecuting their predecessors a characteristic of developing countries, which "unfortunately makes it very hard for any party to govern sustainably moving forward with a sense of unity among their people." The Iowa caucus ended without the declaration of a winner due to questions surrounding discrepancies over vote counts. Yang commented: "I feel for the Democrats and the people of Iowa, but the fact is this was really an avoidable error that shot the party in the foot, and it's going to be harder to convince Americans that we can entrust massive systems with government if we can't count votes on the same night in a way that's clear, transparent, and reliable."
Yang received 8,914 votes in the first alignment in Iowa, which was 5.1% of all votes cast. In the second alignment, Yang received 1,758 votes, which was 1.0% of all votes cast. Yang received 22 state delegate equivalents, which was 1.0% of all state delegate equivalents available. He did not win any delegates to the national convention. Yang's campaign fired 130 staffers in the aftermath of the Iowa caucus. Zach Graumann, Yang's campaign manager, said that the layoffs were part of a "natural evolution" of the campaign after Iowa. A spokesperson for the campaign stated that the layoffs were unrelated to negotiations between the campaign and its unionized workers.
Yang suspended his campaign on February 11, the night of the New Hampshire primary. Zach Graumann, Yang's campaign manager, stated that Yang no longer believed he had a "real chance to win the nomination", but wants to have a future in politics. Yang ultimately received 8,318 votes in New Hampshire, which was 2.8% of all votes cast, and did not win any national delegates from the state.
On March 10, 2020, Yang endorsed Joe Biden. While saying he understood the frustration of Bernie Sanders supporters, he referred to Biden as the "prohibitive nominee" and stated that defeating Trump was the most important goal. On April 27, Yang opened a lawsuit against the New York State Board of Elections for removing him and every other inactive candidate from the ballot and effectively canceling New York's presidential primary. Yang praised a federal judge's order to reinstate the primary, saying "I'm glad that a federal judge agreed that depriving millions of New Yorkers of their right to vote was wrong. I hope that the New York Board of Elections takes from this ruling a newfound appreciation of their role in safeguarding our democracy".
On March 11, 2019, Yang announced on Twitter that he surpassed the fundraising threshold of 65,000 donors, which qualified him to participate in the first round of Democratic primary debates. On June 28, Yang announced that he reached 130,000 donors, which met the fundraising criterion for the third round of Democratic primary debates. By November 30, Yang had over 300,000 donors according to his campaign.
In the first quarter of 2019, Yang raised $1.7 million, of which more than $250,000 came from "the last four days of the quarter". According to Yang's campaign, "the average donation was $17.92", and "99% of the donations were less than $200". In the second quarter, Yang raised $2.8M, an increase of $1.1M from the first quarter. The campaign stated that 99.6% "of its donors were small-dollar donors [who] gave less than $200". On August 6, Yang's third-quarter fundraising reached $2M, which increased to $2.8M on August 13, matching his total second-quarter fundraising. On August 15, he reached 200,000 unique donors. On August 17, Yang announced that among his campaign donors, "the most common jobs are software engineers, teachers, drivers, retail workers and warehouse workers" and the "biggest employer is the US Army". On September 1, he announced that the average donation was $25, and that the campaign had received no corporate political action committee (PAC) money. In the 72 hours after the third debate (held in mid-September), Yang's campaign raised $1 million, suggesting that it "is on track to raise significantly more in the third quarter" than in the second quarter, according to Politico.
In the third quarter, Yang's campaign raised $10M, representing a 257% quarterly increase--the largest growth rate among the fundraising numbers of all candidates. The average donation was around $30, and 99% of the donations were $200 or less. According to The Washington Post, the campaign has raised a total of $15.2M and ranks first among all candidates "in percent of money coming from small-dollar donations".
In mid-October 2019, the creators of a new super PAC, called Math PAC, announced that they would be spending over $1 million to back Yang's campaign "so that a first-time candidate's voice isn't drowned out". Vox noted that it will be "a test for the candidate, who says he wants to eliminate super PACs".
On January 2, 2020, Yang's campaign reported that it had raised $16.5 million in the fourth quarter, representing a growth of 65%. On December 31, 2019, the final day of the quarter, the campaign raised $1.3 million in donations, which was its most lucrative fundraising day to date.
On February 1, 2020, the campaign announced that it had raised over $6.7 million in January, including $1.2 million raised on January 31 alone.
Yang ultimately raised about $41.6 million over the course of his campaign. Of this amount, about $39.8 million was raised by Yang's campaign committee while the remainder came from outside groups.
Followers of Yang's campaign are collectively known as the Yang Gang or #YangGang. They have brought attention to his campaign on Reddit, 4chan, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms, through the use of Internet memes and viral campaigning. Media outlets have noted that much of the content circulated through these platforms--including memes, GIFs, podcasts, and Twitter tweets--have been instrumental to the campaign. According to Mother Jones, Yang's supporters have coordinated on platforms such as Discord and Reddit in order to boost Yang on online surveys hosted by various websites, including the Drudge Report and Washington Examiner. According to Iowa Starting Line, Yang has been able to attract former Republicans, Independents, and Libertarians, and Yang believes that "he could build a much broader coalition to beat Trump in 2020 than anyone else in the field".
On October 26, 2019, a march for UBI took place in New York City, and many of Yang's supporters attended. In South Carolina, there are more than 30 organized supporter groups, according to CBS News. In California, students and alumni from San Diego State University, University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, San Diego have participated in canvassing events for Yang's campaign. In addition, students from the University of California, Berkeley's Forward club, mobilized over 290 students to phone bank, canvass, and spread awareness for Yang's campaign.
On multiple occasions, Yang's campaign and supporters have criticized media outlets, such as MSNBC and CNN, for their coverage of Yang. Incidents include cases of news outlets excluding Yang from lists of 2020 Democratic candidates or failing to mention Yang completely. On August 29, 2019, Yang supporters prompted the hashtag #YangMediaBlackout to trend on Twitter after a CNN infographic displaying the results of a poll included Democratic candidate Beto O'Rourke but not Yang, even though the poll showed Yang polling three times higher than O'Rourke. Yang supporters have also criticized media outlets for providing disproportionately low coverage of Yang, pointing out that according to The New York Times, he has received some of the least coverage in cable news among the candidates, even though he was polling better than most of the field.
On September 5, Yang tweeted that "Sometimes honest mistakes happen. But NBC and MSNBC seem to omit me on the regular." He also provided several examples of omissions. In an evening broadcast on September 9, MSNBC misidentified him as "John Yang". The next day, Yang responded on Twitter, saying "John Yang? That's a new one." The incident prompted the hashtag #WhoIsJohnYang to trend on Twitter. In early October, Yang called out CNN and MSNBC for excluding him in two fundraising graphics.
In early September, Yang's media coverage discrepancy was reported by several media outlets, including CNN.Axios noted that while Yang polling in the top six of the Democratic primary and "getting plenty of online attention", he was "being treated by the media like a bottom-tier candidate". Krystal Ball of The Hill observed that there was "a persistent pattern of ignoring Yang's candidacy" among media outlets such as CNN. Ball further noted that Scott Santens, one of Yang's supporters, "has been keeping track of the apparent slights via Twitter". On October 23, 2019, Santens released an article compiling the mainstream media's exclusions of Yang. In November 2019, Yang's campaign manager dismissed an apology by MSNBC for leaving Yang off of an infographic, which according to Santens's compilation, was the 15th time in the campaign cycle MSNBC or its related networks had wrongfully excluded Yang.
On November 23, 2019, following the MSNBC-hosted November debate in which Yang received the least speaking time and was not called upon for the first 30 minutes of the two-hour debate, Yang publicly rejected a request to appear on MSNBC unless the network would "apologize on-air, discuss and include our campaign consistent with our polling, and allow surrogates from our campaign as they do other candidates'" An analysis from Business Insider found that Yang received significantly less speaking time at debates than would be expected by his polling numbers, and that Yang had the highest deficit between actual and expected speaking time of any candidate during any of the democratic debates. In November 2019, Business Insider reported that Yang is faring significantly better than many other Democratic candidates despite a lack of mainstream media coverage. In a December 2019 interview with NBC News, Yang suggested that him being Asian American may have played a role in the lack of media coverage. According to NBC News, some Yang supporters have "resorted to harassment", including targeting "reporters who have written about or addressed criticisms of Yang", but Yang has said that he does not agree with such behavior. In late December 2019, Yang ended his boycott of MSNBC stating that he prefers to "speak to as many Americans as possible."
In January 2020, MSNBC incorrectly referred to Yang as a "billionaire", and in the same month a CNBC graphic used a picture of Geoff Yang instead of the presidential candidate, also using a picture of Kirsten Gillibrand for Tulsi Gabbard. On February 7, The New York Times published an article based on some of the experiences of Yang's former employees, which Fox News describes as a "hit piece". It alleges Yang's insensitivity toward race and gender while discussing issues of racism and sexism, and circumstantial evidence for his social awkwardness, such as his having pressured employees to participate at company karaokes. On November 22, 2020, former MSNBC producer Ariana Pekary tweeted that Yang was on a list of presidential candidates that the MSNBC show, The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, was instructed not to interview, among other candidates.
The Democratic National Committee determined at random that Yang would participate in the second night of the first debate, which took place in Miami on June 27. During the debate, Yang was asked only two questions. He had the least airtime of any candidate on both nights, speaking for a total of only two minutes and 56 seconds, which was less than one-fourth that of former vice president Joe Biden.
After the debate, Yang, along with fellow candidates Marianne Williamson and Eric Swalwell, complained of microphone issues not allowing them to speak unless called upon when other candidates seemed to be able to freely interject at all times, though NBC denied the claim. The issues spurred frustration from Yang supporters and prompted #LetYangSpeak to trend on Twitter much of the following day. An NBC spokesperson said, "At no point during the debate was any candidate's microphone turned off or muted", but Yang and his supporters provided video evidence they said showed Yang speaking up but not being heard.
The criteria for qualifying for the second debates were the same as for the first debates. Yang was assigned to participate in the second night of the second debate, which took place in Detroit on July 31.
During the debate, Yang answered questions on topics including civil rights, health care, immigration, party strategy, climate, and the economy. Yang spoke for a total of 8.7 minutes, which was again the least time of any candidate on both nights. He was the only second-night candidate who did not spend any time in "back-and-forths" with other candidates. Yang drew attention for his decision to not wear a necktie in either debate. In his closing statement, Yang called out the media and the debate format, saying:
You know what the talking heads couldn't stop talking about after the last debate? It's not the fact that I'm somehow number four on the stage in national polling. It was the fact that I wasn't wearing a tie. Instead of talking about automation and our future, including the fact that we automated away 4 million manufacturing jobs--hundreds of thousands right here in Michigan--we're up here with makeup on our faces and our rehearsed attack lines, playing roles in this reality TV show. It's one reason why we elected a reality TV star as our president! We need to be laser-focused on solving the real challenges of today, like the fact that the most common jobs in America may not exist in a decade, or that most Americans cannot pay their bills. My flagship proposal, the Freedom Dividend, would put one thousand dollars into the hands of every American adult. It would be a game-changer for millions of American families. If you care more about your family and your kids more than my neckwear, enter your zip code at yang2020.com and see what a thousand dollars would mean to your community! I have done the math. It's not left, it's not right, it's forward--and that is how we're going to beat Donald Trump in 2020.
In a September interview with Politico, Yang further clarified his stance on candidates attacking each other at the debates. According to Yang, there "is this sense of manufactured outrage and rehearsed attack lines", and as "a proxy for the American public", he finds "the process to be very false and somewhat misdirected".
To qualify for the third round of debates, "candidates are required to both have 130,000 unique donors and register at least 2 percent support in four polls". On June 28, Yang reached 130,000 donors, thus meeting the fundraising criterion.
After Yang had received what he considered to be his fourth qualifying poll, the DNC revealed that qualifying polls conducted by different organizations would not be counted separately if they were sponsored by the same DNC-approved sponsor. The ruling was controversially disclosed by the DNC on July 30, less than one day after Yang had obtained 2% in four polls, rather than on July 19 when the second of these polls had been completed. In spite of this, Yang qualified for the third debate after receiving 2% support in his fourth qualifying poll on August 8.
The third debate was held in Houston on September 12. In his opening statement, Yang promised to "give a Freedom Dividend of $1000 a month for an entire year to 10 American families". During the debate, he addressed topics including health care, immigration, foreign relations, the War on Terror, corporate lobbying, and education and charter schools. Yang spoke for a total of 7 minutes 54 seconds, which was again the least time of any candidate.
Some campaign-finance experts have questioned using campaign funds for payments such as those Yang promised in his opening statement, on the grounds that federal law bars personal use of campaign funds. However, Yang has said he has consulted lawyers about the proposal and that "he would not gain the same scrutiny if he gave money to a media company or consultants" instead of directly to Americans. On September 12, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian announced on Twitter his support for Yang's proposal and offered to finance it. On September 13, tech entrepreneur Justin Sun pledged to give $1.2 million to 100 Americans in 2020, saying that he wanted "Yang to help him select the recipients". In the 72 hours after the debate, Yang's campaign raised $1 million and collected "more than 450,000 email addresses from people who entered the online raffle", of which over 90% were new email addresses.
The qualification requirements for the fourth debate mirrored those of the third debate, and Yang qualified before August 22. The debate was held on October 15 in Westerville, Ohio. During the debate, Yang stated his support of impeaching Donald Trump, but that it would not solve the issues that got Trump elected, such as job displacement through automation. He also discussed the economy, taxation, foreign policy, the opioid crisis, big tech, and personal data as a property right. Yang spoke for a total of eight and a half minutes, which was the fourth-least time of all candidates.
During the debate, Yang proposed decriminalizing opioids, a stance that candidate Beto O'Rourke agreed with. Candidates Julian Castro and Tulsi Gabbard said that Yang's Freedom Dividend policy "was a good idea, and something they would consider if elected president", while candidate Cory Booker argued for a $15 minimum wage over UBI.Vox called UBI one of the winners of the debate, saying that Yang's campaign "has already elevated the idea in [American] policy discourse". Chris Cillizza of CNN called Yang one of the winners of the debate, observing that Yang had a "remarkable rise in this race" and "is already having a significant impact on the conversation within the Democratic Party". The New York Post similarly labeled Yang a winner, saying that he "knows how to break through by speaking like a regular person". On Twitter, Meghan McCain praised Yang for starting the conversation on automation, calling it "incredibly impressive".
The fifth debate was held on November 20. Yang spoke for a total of 6 minutes 43 seconds, the least time of any candidate. He discussed topics including artificial intelligence, foreign policy, child care, and combating white supremacy.
Critics of the debate noted that it took over 30 minutes for the moderators to let him speak. Yang's short total speaking time and the long period of time before he was brought in sparked accusations from critics, including fellow candidate Tulsi Gabbard, of debate hosts MSNBC and The Washington Post suppressing Yang's speaking time. The incident sparked protests outside of the debate studio from Yang's supporters, who chanted "M-S-N-B-C, hands off our democracy!".
During the debate, Yang said that climate change and artificial intelligence were among his top priorities. One notable moment was when Yang was asked what he would tell Russian President Vladimir Putin if he was elected President of the United States, and Yang responded that he would tell Putin, "Sorry, I beat your guy." On Twitter, Glenn Greenwald said: "Yang's answer about the actual threats of the 21st century was way too smart, thoughtful and substantive for cable news and presidential political generally. Few things will affect humanity more than Artificial Intelligence in this century." CNN's Chris Cillizza listed Yang as among the debate's winners, saying that he "came across as, by far, the most relatable candidate on the stage". Chris Churchill of Times Union wrote: "The other candidates blabbered on about millionaires and billionaires or the bad man in the White House while Yang, bless his heart, repeatedly turned the focus to families and children." Dana Brownlee of Forbes called Yang's closing statement a "Mic Drop Performance" and "refreshing and riveting".
In qualifying for the December debate, Yang met the donor requirement prior to August 15. By December 10, he had received the four required polls, becoming the seventh candidate and the only nonwhite candidate to qualify for the debate. Yang criticized the lack of minority participation during the sixth debate, and he later questioned a December 23 DNC fundraising video that excluded Tulsi Gabbard.
The debate was held on December 19 in Los Angeles, California. Yang spoke for 10 minutes 56 seconds, the least time of any candidate. He discussed issues including foreign policy, the economy, climate change, impeachment, immigration, human rights, and racial equality. CNN's Chris Cillizza named Yang one of the winners of the debate, saying that "Yang's answers on any question he was asked were miles away from how his rivals answered them". Dylan Scott of Vox praised Yang's performance, saying that he "nailed his answer on being the only nonwhite candidate on stage" and that he "made a short and eloquent case" for the Freedom Dividend.
Yang met the donor threshold, but did not meet the polling requirement to qualify for the seventh debate, which occurred on January 14, 2020. Yang suggested that the DNC commission additional polls in an attempt to increase the diversity of candidates, but the committee responded that it would "not sponsor its own debate-qualifying polls of presidential candidates during a primary", citing the established practice of using independent polling for qualification.
On January 26, Yang qualified for the eighth debate, which was held in New Hampshire on February 7. According to editors of The New York Times, Yang gave the second-worst performance of the night. Jamelle Bouie said he "knows how to turn a question to his priorities," but "doesn't have anything to say beyond his pitch for a cash giveaway." Elizabeth Bruenig said he "seems like a cool guy, and perhaps like the ideal candidate ... in a parallel universe where capital and labor cooperate with kindly comity." Will Wilkinson said, "Yang has brought a welcome fresh perspective to the race, but he didn't have his best night."
Yang's platform had three main aspects: UBI, "Human-Centered Capitalism" and "Medicare for All", which he "supports the spirit of", but did not commit to. His platform also included numerous other proposals; more than 160 policies were listed on his campaign website.Equal Citizens gave Yang's democracy reform policies an "A+" rating, the highest ranking also received by fellow candidates Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Tulsi Gabbard.
Yang stated that the problem of job displacement through automation was the main reason Donald Trump ended up winning the 2016 presidential election, stating that based on data, "There's a straight line up between the adoption of industrial robots in a community and the movement towards Donald Trump." Many of his policies, including the Freedom Dividend, were structured as a response to this issue.
Yang's signature policy was the "Freedom Dividend", a $1,000-per-month universal basic income to all US citizens age 18 or older, regardless of employment status. Yang stated that this would help compensate for the loss of jobs to automation and artificial intelligence and that it would foster "healthier people, less stressed out people, better educated people, stronger communities, more volunteerism, [and] more civic participation". Citing forecasting by the Roosevelt Institute, Yang stated that the dividend "would create up to 2 million new jobs" in the US. The dividend is opt-in, and would not be given to those who choose to remain in certain welfare programs, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, WIC, and Supplemental Security Income. Other programs would stack on top of the dividend, including Social Security, unemployment insurance, housing assistance, and veteran's disability benefits.
Yang proposed funding the dividend--estimated to cost $2.8 trillion a year--through several avenues, including a 10% value-added tax on business transactions, a 0.1% tax on financial transactions, taxing capital gains and carried interest at normal income rates, a $40/ton carbon tax, and removing the wage cap on Social Security payroll tax.[c] According to Yang, a value-added tax is necessary to combat tax avoidance by major technology companies like Amazon and Google, which routinely use accounting tricks to pay little in income tax. Yang expects "hundreds of billions in new economic growth and value" to be generated through the dividend and that it would save billions of dollars on incarceration, homelessness services, and emergency room health care. On the topic of whether the dividend should include the wealthiest citizens, Yang stated that it should be universalized "so it's seen as a true right of citizenship, instead of a transfer from rich to poor". Yang does not support raising the federal minimum wage but supports each state's right to do so, citing his belief that the Freedom Dividend renders a federal minimum wage increase less necessary.
Fellow 2020 Democratic candidates Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard, and Julian Castro stated their openness to UBI. At a 2019 conference organized by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, economist and Harvard professor Greg Mankiw said of the Freedom Dividend:
I am attracted to something along the lines of the policy now being championed by Andrew Yang ... It's pretty easy to see how this idea would work. Value-added taxes are essentially sales taxes; they're used in a lot of European nations, and they've proven remarkably efficient ways to raise revenue, and because the dividend is universal, it would be simple to administer.
Skeptics of UBI cite a decrease in the growth of automation and doubt that the impacts of new technology will be negative; according to Rich Lowry, "as technology makes some jobs obsolete, it creates the space for new ones". Contrarily, Yang cited studies demonstrating that the retraining of displaced manufacturing workers had success rates of . The National Bureau of Economic Research estimates that the dividend would cost over $3 trillion annually (more than three-fourths of the federal budget).[d] Some UBI advocates believe that the Freedom Dividend would negatively affect low-income citizens; Yang's campaign clarifies that the cost of basic necessities would not increase significantly, while the cost of luxury goods would, and also that the dividend would decrease the amount of time spent "interacting with an unwieldy bureaucracy". Economics professor Melissa Kearney opines that UBI would not significantly reduce inequality, and that she has found "no compelling evidence that ... giving people money will generally lead to any appreciable increase in work or successful business creation".
Yang criticized several commonly cited economic metrics as misleading; for instance, he prefers labor force participation rate to the unemployment rate and believes that median income and life expectancy are more accurate at measuring the health of the economy than GDP. According to Yang, the economy "systematically tends to undervalue many things, activities, and people, many of which are core to the human experience". His proposal, Human-Centered Capitalism, will include "measurements like Median Income and Standard of Living, Health-adjusted Life Expectancy, Mental Health, Childhood Success Rates, Social and Economic Mobility, Absence of Substance Abuse, and others". The policy aims to make "the economy work for Americans, not the other way around", direct "capital to investments to improve human welfare", and create "measurements around people, not dollars".
In response to GDP having little-to-no influence on each citizen's well-being, Yang proposed to create an "American Scorecard" to capture "the actual economic/well-being of the American people". He listed several measurable indicators of well-being, including "Quality of life and health-adjusted life expectancy", "Happiness/Well-Being and Mental Health", "Environmental quality", "Income Inequality", and "Access to education". According to Yang, the American Scorecard will help set "policy goals against measurable indicators of well-being" and "measure progress on these goals".
Yang promoted equal pay for equal work and wants to alleviate the racial discrepancies in pay. He also proposed to implement a mandatory paid-leave policy, which includes a minimum-leave policy for full-time workers and paid time away from work for contract workers. According to Yang, "Americans often want to move for better job prospects but can't afford the costs." He wants to make it easier to move for work, and has proposed for the IRS "to create a program to refund up to $1,000 of moving expenses for any American relocating for work".
Yang proposed for personal data to be treated as a property right, saying: "Data generated by each individual needs to be owned by them, with certain rights conveyed that will allow them to know how it's used and protect it." He opposed the deregulation of Wall Street, supported regulating social media as a public utility, and promoted a ban on robocalls. Yang proposed a new type of credit system designed to incentivize traditionally unpaid caregiving contributions. He supported free financial counseling, stating that "it's important to ensure Americans have the knowledge they need to save and invest properly".
Yang supported the implementation of what he called "democracy dollars", where voting age citizens receive a $100 "use it or lose it" democracy voucher each year to give to candidates. The policy aimed to drown out corporate money resulting from political lobbying and the decision of Citizens United v. FEC. According to Yang, democracy dollars would drown out corporate money from organizations, such as the NRA, by a factor of eight to one.
Yang proposed to end partisan gerrymandering. According to Yang, gerrymandering "undercuts the basis of our representative democracy, and it causes people to believe their vote doesn't count". He aimed to promote the use of "the efficiency gap to measure partisan gerrymandering when evaluating and drawing district maps". He also wanted to use independent redistricting commissions and appoint "Supreme Court justices who support the use of sociological tools such as the efficiency gap to help end partisan gerrymandering".
Yang supported ranked-choice voting: "each voter ranks their top three candidates. ... If one candidate received over 50% of the vote, they win the election. If no candidate hit the majority threshold, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. Then, everyone who listed that eliminated candidate as their first choice has their second choice considered, a process which continues until someone breaks 50%." Yang stated that ranked-choice voting would lead to higher voter turnout, better capture voter preferences, allow for more moderate candidates, and lower levels of negative campaigning. His policy aimed to adopt a voting system that would combat partisanship and "better captures the will of the majority of voters".
On April 3, 2019, Yang came out in favor of lowering the national voting age to 16. While other candidates expressed openness towards the idea, Yang was the first to make it an official part of his platform. Through lowering the voting age, Yang aimed to increase civic engagement and allow citizens "to influence policy that impacts their economic futures".
On August 26, 2019, Yang released his climate change plan, which involved nuclear power, zero-emission transportation, geoengineering, a carbon tax, and a renewable electric grid. Yang supported a Green New Deal and favored a reduction in carbon emissions with an emphasis on climate engineering. In addition to revitalizing the Environmental Protection Agency, his platform called for a Global Geoengineering Institute to form inter-governmental partnerships. Yang is a proponent of bringing the United States back into the Paris Climate Agreement.
Yang is a supporter of nuclear energy. He believes that the US should invest more in nuclear technologies like thorium-based nuclear power and generation-IV nuclear reactors since they are safer and produce less waste than uranium-based nuclear energy and are not capable of being weaponized. In his plan for energy transition to low-carbon sources, he planned to invest $50 billion in research and development and expected the first reactors to be connected to the grid by 2027. He also stated that he wants to make it easier for nuclear power plants to open up and wants to increase the amount of nuclear energy used in the US.
In addition to UBI, single-payer health care used to be a fundamental aspect of Yang's platform. However, his policy proposal released in December 2019 eschewed from it in favor of a plan that focused more on lowering costs and expanding coverage. Prior to releasing the proposal, Yang clarified that while he supported Medicare for All, he "would keep the option of private insurance". He stated his goal was to "demonstrate to the American people that private insurance is not what [they] need" and that Medicare for All is "superior to [their] current insurance". He believed that such an approach would make holistic and preventive care more feasible. He also used to support free marriage counseling. His policy proposal does not contain a public option.HuffPost described it as "the most conservative health care plan in the Democratic Primary".
He stated that the doctor shortage can be attributed to inadequate investment in patient care technology and an overemphasis on medical careers that require individuals to go through medical school.
Yang proposed increasing funding for the suicide prevention efforts of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Department of Veterans Affairs. He supported the creation and funding of mindfulness programs in schools and correctional facilities.
Yang is pro-choice. He supports "the right to privacy of American women" and the right for women "to choose in every circumstance and provide resources for planning and contraception". He said that he would nominate pro-choice judges who "support a woman's right to choose". He also believes that UBI will reduce abortions being performed for financial reasons.
In March 2019, after an anonymous Twitter user asked Yang if he had an opinion on routine infant circumcision, Yang responded that he was against the practice. Yang later called himself "highly aligned with the intactivists" ("intactivists" referring to opponents of the practice) and stated that "history will prove them even more correct." Yang called the evidence for circumcision being medically beneficial "shaky" and suggested that as president, he would support giving new parents more information about this decision. However, Yang did not support a ban on the practice and later clarified that he supported the ability of parents to make this choice for religious or cultural reasons. Intactivists described this position as incompatible with their movement, with Intact America's Georganne Chapin describing his statement as backtracking and suggesting that it was simply due to political pressure. Major politicians commenting on infant circumcision has been rare, with Yang being the only candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination to discuss the issue.
Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, an Orthodox Jew, invited Yang to his show, and some outlets reported that Yang and Shapiro were going to have a public debate on the issue. However, Shapiro clarified that he and Yang were having a discussion rather than a debate and that their conversation would cover other issues rather than solely focusing on circumcision.
Though white nationalists and anti-Semites also voiced agreement on online forums with Yang on his anti-circumcision stance, Yang rejected their support.
In a New York Times article about his campaign, several of Yang's policies about corruption and the federal bureaucracy were detailed, such as the creation of a "Department of the Attention Economy" that would focus on regulating the addictive nature of social media, the hiring of a White House Psychologist to focus on mental health issues, making Tax Day a national holiday, and, to stem corruption, increasing the salaries of federal regulators but limiting their private work after they leave public service.
Yang supports the legalization of cannabis and the decriminalization of opioids (including heroin) for personal use, but he does not support legalizing or decriminalizing cocaine. He cited the drug policy of Portugal, which he believes to be similar, as evidence of the potential effectiveness of his drug policy. If elected, he plans to pardon all prisoners serving sentences for low-level, non-violent marijuana offenses, and "would high five them on their way out of jail."
Yang supports "common sense licensing policy" for firearms, the restriction of the ability of people with a history of violence, domestic abuse, or violent mental illness to acquire firearms, and the grandfathering of current gun owners and the offering of a one-time "Good Gun Owner" tax credit. He also supports the prohibition of the manufacture and sale of assault weapons, bump stocks, suppressors, incendiary and explosive ammunition, and grenade launcher attachments; the implementation of a perpetual voluntary federal buyback program; and a tax credit for gun owners to upgrade their guns to personalized guns so children and teenagers do not potentially harm themselves or others with the gun. Yang supports law enforcement training that emphasizes the de-escalation of situations involving firearms.
Yang advocated for gun companies to "pay a fine when their product is used to kill an American" in order to realign incentives to deal with the problem of arms manufacturers' stocks going up after mass shootings. He supports "an increase in the availability of mental health resources". Yang calls the act of buying a gun and using it in a mass shooting "the last two steps" for a mass shooter and says we must also tackle the various steps that cause a shooter to buy and use a gun in a mass shooting in the first place.
Yang proposed ending active shooter drills in U.S. schools, or making them optional. He argued that "the trauma and anxiety the process causes far outweigh the likelihood of a real-life shooting", citing a statistic that "the likelihood of a public school student being killed by a gunman is 'less than 1 in 614 million'". He also "criticized several school districts across the country which use theatrical recreations including firing blank rounds at students and using fake blood to imitate a real mass shooting".
Yang supports American international alliances such as NATO. He pledged to return the power to declare war to Congress if elected. He would also create a position for secretary of cybersecurity. In regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Yang wants a "two-state solution that allows both the Israeli and Palestinian people to have sovereign land and self-determination". He called Iran a "destabilizing force in the region", while also stating that leaving the JCPOA was a "strategic mistake", and he is opposed to engaging in an armed conflict with the country because it would have "no clear benefit for the American people". Yang backed a more aggressive policy toward Russia, saying that "Russia is our biggest geopolitical threat, because they've been hacking our democracy successfully." He wrote to the Council on Foreign Relations:
Russian aggression is a destabilizing force, and we must work with our allies to project a strong and unified face against Russian expansionism ... we need to expand sanctions against Russia, and Putin and members of his government specifically through the Global Magnitsky Act, in order to pressure the country to play by international rules.
Yang does not support making public colleges tuition-free, but does support investing in community colleges to drastically reduce their tuition. Yang proposed forgiving some student loan debt, improving efficacy of funds invested in education, and increasing the accountability of educational institutions. He supports affirmative action, believing that there has "never been a truly objective process" for college admissions, owing to "preference for legacies". He said that he viewed the rising cost of tuition as one of the greatest issues facing higher education today. He identified an increase in administration staff as the cause of the rising cost, and supported tying federal fund access to affordability and accessibility to curb the excess.
Additionally, he is in favor of promoting vocational education and technical training as an alternative for college, saying "College is being over-prescribed in this country. ... Georgetown has estimated that there are 30 million good-paying jobs out there that don't require a college degree. Most require some type of specialized training."
Yang is a supporter of the DREAM Act, a bill that would protect migrants who entered the United States illegally as minors. He would create a new category of residency that would allow certain undocumented migrants to gain citizenship after 18 years in the country. He would implement new technology to secure the Mexico-United States border, and increase financial support for ports of entry and environmental protections around the Rio Grande. Yang said that immigrants were being scapegoated for the problem of job displacement through automation, stating that "If you go to a factory here in Michigan, you will not find wall-to-wall immigrants, you will find wall to wall robots and machines."
Yang promised to enact legislation that would prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. He believes that "the protections of the Civil Rights Act should apply to LGBTQ+ Americans".
In his book that accompanied his presidential campaign Yang talked about implementing Time-based currency in addition to the already existing dollar. He said that the UBI might be able to partially solve the financial backlash that might come with the automation of society but thinks "time banking" might make it even better and provide a solution for other issues caused by automation. He thinks that rewarding people for doing jobs that they like doing will cause people to both bring value to society and value themselves more. He wants to make a completely new currency instead of using the old one because it would remove the stigma around it, which would bring two advantages according to Yang. The first being that "1000" social credit coins sounds a lot better than their actual value (which would be lower by current market standards), the second being that people would not mind if you bragged with these because it showed you did well for society.
Yang proposed to eliminate the penny, reasoning that pennies "are expensive, environmentally damaging, and cost businesses time". He also wants to extend daylight saving time all year, which, according to Yang, will decrease "traffic accidents, heart attacks, and crime" and increase "exercise and economic activity". Yang also believes that NCAA athletes should be paid, which will enable "college athletes to participate in the massive wealth creation they enable for their institutions". He supports legalizing online poker in all 50 states, the "first legitimate candidate" to do so according to Card Player. Yang also advocated for all police officers to be trained extensively in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, to a minimum rank of purple belt.
Yang received endorsements or explicit expressions of support from officials such as Steve Marchand,Mike Honda, and Teresa Keng, as well as individuals including Elon Musk,Casey Neistat,MC Jin,Anita Baker,Sam Altman,Tony Hsieh, James Felton Keith,Eliot Horowitz,Ethan Klein,Kirsten Lepore,Stephen Sean Ford,Greg Ellis,Marcellus Wiley,Simu Liu,Joe Wong,Daniel Negreanu,Faraz Jaka,Andy Stern,Tommy Chong,Dominique Wilkins,Eugene Gu,Bobby Kim,Mark Schultz,Adam22,Christina Hoff Sommers,Peter Boghossian,Lloyd Ahlquist,Ken Jeong,Steven Yeun,Chris Jericho,Penn Jillette,Dane DeHaan,Teri Hatcher,John Leguizamo,Ken Bone, and Dave Chappelle.
Yang received campaign donations from Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey, actors Nicolas Cage and Noah Centineo, Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo, and Internet personality Ryan Higa.Whoopi Goldberg mentioned him several times on The View, saying that she loves his ideas.
The entrepreneur has said his plan supports the "spirit of Medicare for All," although it does not contain a public option.
Gabbard said hours after Yang ended his bid that she would continue 'to carry the torch' for his Freedom Dividend.
Yang's plan stops short of offering the public option plan that even moderate candidates like former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg have committed to implementing.