Yang Celebrates 45th Birthday at Des Moines Rally
An Andrew Yang campaign rally is a lot like a comedy show with a lot of numbers added in. There’s almost as much laughter as there is applause. Supporters of this long-shot outsider candidacy know the tag lines in Yang’s unique stump speech and are always ready when asked to complete one. The Yang Gang knows how much Amazon paid in income taxes and they know how the number of Californians each Iowan is worth (zero and one thousand respectively). They are fiercely loyal and it’s not hard to see why.
The energy at a Yang rally is a lot different than the energy at other presidential candidate rallies– it’s much louder and raucous, and interestingly, the crowd is more involved in the speech itself. Yang has been incorporating this call-and-response since at least the Nov. 1 Liberty and Justice Celebration, the annual gathering of the Iowa Democratic Party. That night, Yang’s small but mighty group of supporters made sure nobody forgot they were up there.
The theme of Yang’s candidacy is clear. It’s clear in the picture he paints for the audience of a small city in the industrial Midwest that has been devastated by a changing economy: “after the plant or factory closed, the shopping district closed, people started to leave, the schools shrank, and the community has never recovered.” He supplements this with dire examples of automation in the American economy, including a fully automated semi-truck that recently transported 40,000 pounds of butter across the United States. One supporter, having heard this segment of the speech before, arrived at the event in a car painted with the message “Google Robot Butter Truck – Vote Yang!”
Yang begins and ends on this theme of financial insecurity. The GDP is going up while life expectancy is going down, illustrating the economic inequality we face. Yang points out that the inability to pay your bills reliably each month has the same effect on a person as removing 13 points from their IQ. The danger in this election, according to Yang, is the possibility of Democrats nominating someone who doesn’t understand that this – automation, corporate greed, and financial insecurity – is the reason Trump was able to rise to the presidency.
In his rallies, the audience becomes a sports team down at halftime and Andrew Yang becomes the coach. His words are empowering, his delivery is inspiring, and his base is motivated. Megann Moeller, a senior at Drake and a supporter of Yang, first saw him in March of 2019 in quite a unique setting: a college fraternity. At the time, the vice president of Drake University’s chapter of the Theta Chi fraternity invited Yang to campus. At the time, he had been campaigning for almost a year and a half, and the event drew a lot of attention on Drake’s campus.
Moeller noticed something missing from Yang’s speech this time around – he did not mention that the upcoming Democratic Debate, the seventh in an ongoing series, would be the first one he did not qualify for. She said she would have liked to hear more about how that would affect his support. Yang himself believes he has the answer to that question: the day after the debate, which was held on January 14, he tweeted: “Missing a debate has destroyed other campaigns. It fuels ours. That’s the Yang Gang. We do it ourselves.”