For over 20 years, I’ve been a voice in the ethnic media clamoring about the lunacy of Iowa and New Hampshire as the gatekeepers in any national presidential campaign.
It was seldom mentioned it in the mainstream media. But in 2020, the demographics of our country are so painfully obvious that not harping on the point is journalistic malpractice.
It’s just after New Hampshire, and it’s too late. Candidates of color have fallen to the great white way. No money. No votes. No chance.
Too late for Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Julian Castro. All of them. Gone.
And now even plucky Andrew Yang-–who finished last in New Hampshire with a fraction of what winner Bernie Sanders got—is now out of the race.
Not in it for vanity or self-aggrandizement, Yang showed a sense of ethics not often seen among politicians.
“You know I am the math guy, and it is clear tonight from the numbers we aren’t going to win this race,” said Yang in New Hampshire. “I am not someone who wants to accept donations and support in a race that we will not win. So tonight I am announcing I am suspending my campaign for president.”
The exit of the leader of the Yang Gang leaves us with an all-white gang going for the gusto. Yes, Deval Patrick is still kind of in, as is Tulsi Gabbard. But the top four finishers in New Hampshire seem to be the most viable candidates going forward. Sanders, Buttigieg, and a surprising Klobuchar, with Warren barely hanging on.
One-time national frontrunner Biden? His window is closing fast. He’s grasping at an Obama coattail that just isn’t there. At some point, Biden backers will find someone in the middle. Klobuchar? Or Mayor Pete? (Would he be President Pothole?) Or find some reason to like Bloomberg and his money. (As the Sanders olks put it during this swing, Bloomberg is the “oligarch.") And then there’s the pressure on Warren. It’s clear those who liked her and Bernie both made a choice in New Hampshire. And that’s where we are.
Barring some establishment Democratic party rule changes and deal-making, the field is winnowing down as we head into Nevada and South Carolina later this month, and then the big test on March 3, Super Tuesday.
That’s the day California, the state with the most Asian Americans in the country, has its say. But with Yang dropping out, there won’t be a candidate who looks or sounds like us.
Forget about talking to us. Maybe someone will. Can anyone build a magic coalition that will unite and attract Asian Americans of all ethnicities?
And what of the even larger Latino community in the Golden State? Who will lead the cry, “Si, se puede!”?
But Buttigieg? Klobuchar? Warren? Bloomberg?
They are all still relative strangers.
Sanders, however, has been up and down California already, drawing big crowds in the working class/Latino center of the state from Sacramento to Fresno. He’s got a national name from 2016. He just might pull the coastal elites and the inland moderates of the great state together. People see Sanders as the bulldog for the working class. There’s no “commie talk.” That comes from those on Trump’s side, blind to the fact it’s their guy who acts in concert with Putin.
It’s too bad for Yang, because Asians get elected in California. I was warming up to him. At least, he’s famous now. We know all about his wife’s ordeal. We know people have his likeness tattooed on their calves. Even in defeat, there was still a bounce to his step. But his ambitions will be recalibrated. Next stop Gracie Mansion? Mayor Yang? The math may work out.
I admit I was surprised when other Asian Americans were cool to Yang earlier in his national bid. Some were even upset that Yang’s use of Asian American narratives seemed to perpetuate the model minority myth. It was just typical of the disruptive entrepreneur who challenged a lot of thinking out there. To that end, he was always worth considering. The $1,000 a month payout to every person was his signature policy that appealed to both left and right. And though people thought the New Hampshire debate propelled Klobuchar the most, I thought Yang was powerful too, especially in his closing statement when he warned about our current “winner take all economy” and the way the market has devalued stay- at-home parents, caregivers, activists, coaches, teachers, artists, and even local journalists.
“The mission in this campaign has to be for us to disentangle economic value and human value, to say they are not the same things,” Yang said. “And make the case to our fellow Americans that we each have intrinsic value as citizens, as human beings and as owners and shareholders of the richest country in the history of the world.”
America made a mistake electing someone like Trump who appealed to those who wanted to see the country run like a business. But that means profits over people. It means Trump’s own interests over public interests and ultimately a disaster for our democracy and to the rule of law.
Yang seemed to have a sense of how to bring a humanistic economic approach to government.
He’s just not rich enough to stay in this race anymore. Nor is he white enough.
And that says a lot about the state of our American democracy today.
That’s pretty shameful. The smart Asian male had no real shot. Even Tom Steyer’s money outperformed him in New Hampshire. With or without money–Yang’s finish in New Hampshire speaks volumes.
Still, it’s not as distressing as the follies in post-impeachment Washington: Trump in his East Room rah-rah session/coronation; the dumping of anti-Trump witnesses Lt. Col. Vindman, Ambassador Sondland, and the imminent departures of anyone who dares to speak ill of Trump; the Trump budget proposal that cuts safety nets and Social Security for regular Americans after saying he wouldn’t; the Trump change to a more restrictive class-based immigration policy; the reaction from Trump and his Justice Department to lighten the sentence of Trump ally Roger Stone. And that’s just oee week after the Senate failed to remove the impeached president.
There’s more to come, of course.
It’s the slow erosion toward the Trump “monarchy,” where Roger Stone could play jester–a cabinet level position.
Every day there’s something. I expect soon he’ll declare he’s conquered the coronavirus.
It all makes for quite a backdrop to the 2020 campaign. Trump goes vindictive, Democrats try to avoid being self-destructive.
Let’s hope that in these next few weeks, someone emerges as the national leader who can build a coalition we can feel part of, one that can win the presidency. That person never was Yang. It was just good to see an Asian face. I’ll settle for someone who is fair, rational, and a selfless believer in our democracy.
A meditator would be good. Who thinks Om is part of the Office of Management and Budget.
Now that would be someone who inspires hope and a belief in a country united, working toward common goals.
In 2020, why is that such a tall order?