Photo of Andrew Yang

Remarks at the Iowa Democratic Party Liberty and Justice Celebration in Des Moines

November 01, 2019

Hello, Iowa! Thank you, Iowa. Thank you so much. And thank you, Yang Gang! I love campaigning in Iowa, because this is one of the only places in the entire country where Democracy still works as it is intended. You know this, but I do not know if you realize just how much power is in this room tonight.

I did the MATH, Iowa. You know how many Californians each of you is worth? One thousand Californians each.

When I look around this arena tonight, I do not just see fourteen thousand Iowans – I see fourteen million Californians. That is a power in this room, the power to change the course of history. That's why it's a thrill to be back here and a privilege to address you all.

Now, I am a presidential candidate, yes, but I'm also a parent, a dad. How many of you are parents? My wife, Evelyn, is here with us tonight. We have two young boys, Christopher and Damian, and I'm running for president because of a thought that the parents here in this room have had but we've been afraid to express.

And it is this: our kids are not alright.

They are not alright because we have left them a future far darker than the lives we have led as their parents.

Now, many of you think of me as a business guy, but for the last seven years I've been a non-profit guy. I started a non-profit called Venture for America that helped create thousands of jobs in cities like Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis, Baltimore, and you know what I saw during these seven years?

I saw millions of young people who are not starting families, let alone businesses, because they couldn't pay their bills. I saw millions of young people who were buried under a mountain of debt and trapped in their parents' basements. I saw record high levels of anxiety, stress, depression, mental illness, even suicides and drug overdoses, to the point that our country's life expectancy has declined for three years in a row.

The first time in a hundred years that has happened, Iowa. If you turned on cable news today, why would you think Donald Trump is our president? Go ahead and shout something out. Someone who's not the Yang Gang.

Russia, racism, Facebook, Hillary Clinton, emails, all mixed together.

But I believe many of you know different. I am a numbers guy, and the reason why Donald Trump is our president, the reason why he won your state by eight points, is that we blasted away forty thousand manufacturing jobs right here in Iowa and you saw all of those towns go from blue to red as it happened.

And that did not just happen here in Iowa.

We did it in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Missouri — all of the swing states that Donald Trump needed to win.

We blasted away four million manufacturing jobs and unfortunately we are not stopping there, Iowa. How many of you have seen stores close where you work and live here in the state? Raise your hands.

Why are the stores closing? It's a one-word answer: Amazon.

That's right. Amazon soaking up twenty billion dollars in business every year, causing 30 percent of your stores and malls to close.

How much did Amazon pay in federal taxes last year? [Crowd: ZERO!]

That is your math, Iowa.

Twenty billion out, zero back. Thirty percent of your stores and malls closed. The most common job in your state is retail clerk, 39-year-old woman making between $9 and $10 per hour. When her store closes, what is her next move going to be?

I'm a numbers guy, but you don't need the numbers. You just look around your communities. You see it when you walk into the CVS and the grocery store and you see the self-service kiosk. You see your neighbors' kids addicted to drugs. You see the headlines where Google and Uber are working on trucks that can drive themselves.

These are the real problems that got Donald Trump elected. The fact that more and more of us are feeling left behind.

Experts are calling this economic transformation, this period, the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

When is the last time you heard a politician even breathe the words, Fourth Industrial Revolution? Just now, right? And I am barely a politician.

These are the problems that got Donald Trump elected and this is what you must solve. This is how you must use your power.

Now I want you all to ask yourselves for a moment: How is a man you had never heard of eight months ago speaking after Joe Biden and before Elizabeth Warren? How did a man you had never heard of before raise $10 million last quarter, in increments of only $30 each?

So my fans are almost as cheap as Bernie's. It is because I know what the true nature of the problems are, and how we can solve them.

And it is up to you to take these solutions to the rest of the country, to present a New Way Forward as fast as possible. Now, what is this New Way Forward, what is the vision?

If you've heard anything about me and my campaign, you've heard this: there's an Asian man running for president. He wants to give everyone one thousand dollars a month.

And the first time you heard that, it sounds like a gimmick, too good to be true, but this is not my idea and it's not a new idea.

Thomas Paine was for it at our founding. Martin Luther King fought for it in the sixties. A thousand economists endorsed it. Congress, the U.S. House of Representatives, passed it twice in 1971. And eleven years later, one state passed a dividend where now everyone in that state gets between one and two thousand dollars a year, no questions asked. And what state is that? [CROWD: ALASKA!]

And how does Alaska pay for it? [CROWD: OIL!]

And what is the oil of the 21st century, Iowa? [CROWD: DATA!]

Technology, software, self-driving trucks — our data is now worth more than oil. Raise your hand if you got your data check in the mail.

Where did the data checks go? They went to Facebook, Amazon, Google, and the trillion-dollar tech companies that are paying zero or near zero in income taxes.

Now, think about what a thousand dollars a month would actually mean in your hands and the hands of your friends and neighbors. It would mean lower stress levels. It would mean fewer arguments with your spouse. It would mean being able to retire with dignity. It would mean not having to choose between car repairs and new clothes for your kids.

It's not about the money, it's about what it means to us. And I have been giving a thousand dollars to families around the country for a number of months now. I recommend it.

And one of them is here tonight. Kyle Christensen who lives in Iowa Falls.

Thank you, Kyle. Look at that. I thought you were up there, Kyle. I'm glad you're at the fancy table.

So, Kyle lives in Iowa Falls with his mom who's recovering from cancer. And when I saw Kyle on my last trip, he said that after he had taken care of some bills, he bought a guitar and was playing shows for the first time in years.

For Kyle, it was a guitar. For Jodie in New Hampshire, it was car repairs to visit her daughter. For Malorie in Florida, it was going back to school at the age of 68.

This is what the Freedom Dividend would mean for us in real life.

And this is the vision you can make a reality, like this, Iowa, because this is your power and your power alone.

Now, my first move, my first move was not to run for President of the United States, because I am not insane.

I worked in the Obama Administration. I went to Washington, D.C., and I said, what are we going to do to help our fellow citizens understand that it is not immigrants that are causing these problems, it is technology and an economy that is pushing more and more of us to the side.

And the folks in Washington, D.C., had very little to offer. But one of them gave me some guidance that led me here to you all tonight.

He said, "Andrew, you're in the wrong town. No one in Washington, D.C., will touch this, because fundamentally, this is not a town of leaders. This is a town of followers. And the only way we will do anything is if you were to create a wave in the rest of the country and bring that wave crashing down on our heads." And that is why I am with you tonight, Iowa!

I am with you tonight because you must be that wave. I'm not running for president because I fantasized about being president.

I am running for president because, like so many of you in this room, I'm a parent. I am a patriot. I have seen the future that lies ahead for our children, and it is not something I'm willing to accept.

Here in Iowa, you actually know what the future holds if you look up. You saw it happen to your farms. And then your factories. Now it's on your main streets. Soon it will hit your highways. It is up to you and you alone to turn the tide. You must be the wave that helps us rewrite the rules of the 21st century economy to work for us, to work for you, the people of this country.

You must be the wave that helps give the entire nation a New Way Forward. And gives me, and millions of parents around the country, the ability to look our children in the eyes and say, with truth, in our hearts, your country loves you, your country values you, and you are going to be alright. Thank you very much, Iowa. Let's make history. Let's move the country forward together in 2020 and win this whole thing.

I love Iowa. I love it here.

Andrew Yang, Remarks at the Iowa Democratic Party Liberty and Justice Celebration in Des Moines Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives