Update: On Thursday, Andrew Yang tweeted that he was added to the speaker lineup for next week's Democratic National Convention. According to Yang's twitter, he will be speaking on Thursday, August 20, around 9 p.m.
This story was originally published on August 12, 2020.
When the official speaker lineup for the upcoming Democratic National Convention was announced, former presidential candidate Andrew Yang was surprised that he wasn’t on it. “I’ve got to be honest. I kind of expected to speak,” Yang wrote on Twitter. And, as the story goes, when Yang calls, the Yang Gang answers. The tech entrepreneur’s tweet garnered a full assembly of his supporter base, demanding the DNC reevaluate their decision to leave him out off the lineup.
The online protest, which was offset by the trending Twitter hashtag #LetYangSpeakDNC, made major headlines on Tuesday (that is, until the big Kamala announcement). According to his supporters, the candidate who ran on a platform largely around Universal Basic Income, created a massive shift in how Americans thought about monetary support from the federal government. And while Yang's plan may have seemed outlandish a year ago, amid the coronavirus pandemic, it's now an unavoidable call to action.
The Yang Gang — which has not wavered support for their candidate, even long after his campaign expired — believes that Yang's instinct, foresight, and influence over a younger generation of voters, is the very reason he should be a DNC speaker. And, for his part, Yang's representation there could influence a variety of different voters that Biden hasn't yet tapped into.
Yang has his own theory about why he wasn't selected. “Maybe I endorsed one too many incumbents,” he said in a follow-up tweet speculating that his political endorsements through his non-profit, Humanity Forward, may have come into play. But it's more likely that the DNC is racking up big ticket speakers across both party lines in preparation to defeat Trump.
The DNC’s lineup currently includes Barack and Michelle Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, among others. In total, over a dozen Democratic party members (and even one unpopular Republican) are expected to speak over the course of four-day convention starting August 17.
As of last week, the convention will be hosted entirely online, a move which inevitably forced Democrats to reduce the programming to just two hours each night, unlike previous years where speakers got time throughout the afternoon and early evening before keynote speakers took the stage. This year, Biden will be accepting the Democratic nomination from his home state of Delaware in lieu of traveling to the host city of Milwaukee.
Yang, who dropped out of the presidential race in February after failing to secure any pledged delegates during the Iowa caucus, still holds a significant place in the party. He is one of less than half a dozen Asian-American candidates to ever run for president, and his campaign outlasted early predictions, given that he had no previous political experience. Yang ran on a “humanity first” platform that supported a universal basic income, universal healthcare, reducing student loans, and human-centered capitalism.
Given the reduced lineup overall, a number of former candidates didn’t make the cut, including former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, reports NPR. While supporters of Yang flooded Twitter with reasons why he would have made an excellent addition to the speaking lineup, it is possible it just came down to time constraints. However, some are questioning why former Ohio Governor John Kasich, a Republican who ran against President Donald Trump in the 2016 GOP primary, would have a spot and not Yang.
NPR noted that additional speakers will likely be added over the coming days. Given the outpouring of support for Yang on Twitter, perhaps the DNC will add him after all.