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Yang masters the politics of authenticity

Ruben Navarrette Jr. on

SAN DIEGO -- There's a new crew of political outlaws riding roughshod over the 2020 Democratic primary, and they call themselves the Yang Gang.

These are the folks who have thrown their lot in with 44-year-old entrepreneur and lawyer Andrew Yang, a longshot presidential candidate who is short on political smoke and mirrors.

With Yang, what you see is what you get. And what you see is a hard worker who was educated at Brown University and Columbia Law School, wrote two books, and led a number of start-ups before launching a nonprofit organization that aims to create jobs in struggling U.S. cities.

All that, and he still seems like the underachiever in his family. His parents

are immigrants from Taiwan who worked their way to graduate degrees. His father

has a doctorate in physics, his mother has a Masters in statistics, and his older brother has a doctorate in psychology.

 

Yang's answers at the first two presidential debates -- squeezed into seven or eight minutes -- tell us that he is a smart person. And the fact that he is one of just 10 candidates who have, thus far, met the threshold to qualify for the third set of debates in Houston in September -- at least 2% in four polls and donations from 130,000 unique donors -- tells us that he might be in this game for a while.

The New York Times calls Yang "the internet's favorite candidate," and his supporters in the Yang Gang make full use of social media platforms like Reddit, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to promote their guy.

Yang has gotten this far because he has figured out what many candidates for office never get around to understanding: the ingredients to a successful campaign. Of course, fundraising dollars, poll numbers, and media attention are important. But, in order to get those things, you need to do these four things:

Be clear. Be passionate. Be real. Be interesting.

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