Although Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang got the least amount of talking time during Wednesday’s debate with 8.7 minutes — per The Washington Post — it was a massive leap from his two minutes and 50 seconds from the first debate.
The 44-year-old entrepreneur refrained from attacking his opponents and instead focused on introducing his signature proposal of universal basic income (UBI) of $1,000 per month for every American over the age of 18, as well as issues such as the importance of addressing the effects of automation on the economy, Medicare-for-all, unpaid female work, and the decreasing life expectancy that GDP and stock markets don’t account for when measuring the economy.
But Yang arguably captured the most attention with his closing statement, in which he called out the debate format and its focus on sparking spectacle and confrontation instead of genuine discussion.
“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,” Yang said, per the NBC News transcript of the debate. “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,” he continued.
“It’s one reason why we elected a reality TV star as our president.”
The line received applause from the audience as well as positive feedback from social media users — both from supporters and those that admitted they weren’t a fan of his policies.
— POLITICO (@politico) August 1, 2019
Interestingly, the line appears to be inspired by a supporter suggestion that was made during Yang’s Reddit “Ask Me Anything” last week. The comment came from onlyartist6 and highlighted the “political theater” of the debates. They suggested that Yang underline the absurdity of selecting a president for the most powerful nation in the world through what is essentially a reality show contest.
The potential inspiration isn’t any surprise. Yang has a grassroots following in the form of his “Yang Gang” and maintains a close connection with them at least partly via social media and his energetic rallies. His fans regularly post joking and supportive memes of the candidate and most recently began the “#AndrewYangFacts” trend, which The Inquisitr reported channeled Chuck Norris jokes through Yang’s tech-savvy public persona.
As of now, Yang has met the donor requirements and — after one poll was rejected — three polls for the fall debates. He now needs to gain 2 percent in one more approved poll to hit the stage in September and October.