Former Democratic presidential candidate and entrepreneur Andrew Yang drew both praise and criticism Thursday after he said his party had fallen out of touch with working-class Americans.
During an appearance on CNN with host Don Lemon, Mr. Yang addressed how “deeply disappointed” Democrats are after a blue wave failed to materialize in Tuesday’s elections, and how illuminating his experience on the 2020 campaign trail was after he tried to understand why blue-collar workers have been so disenchanted by the party.
“I had that experience countless times on the trail,” Mr. Yang said, “where I would say, ‘Hey I’m running for president,’ to a truck driver or retail worker or waitress in a diner, and they would say what party and I would say Democrat and they would flinch like I said something really negative or I turned another color or something like that. And there’s something deeply wrong when working-class Americans have that response to a major party that theoretically is supposed to be fighting for them, so you have to ask yourself what has the Democratic Party been standing for in their minds?
“And in their minds the Democratic Party, unfortunately, has taken on this role of the coastal urban elites who are more concerned about policing various cultural issues than improving their way of life that has been declining for years,” he continued. “And so if you’re in that situation, this to me is a fundamental problem for the Democratic Party because if they don’t figure this out, then this polarization and division will get worse not better.”
Mr. Lemon asked, “Is that real or messaging or both?”
“It’s real,” Mr. Yang responded. “I mean, [Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingle] just said they lost a plant that had 1,500 workers, and so if you’re a laid-off worker from that plant and you look up and say, ‘What is the Democratic Party doing for me?’ It’s unclear.
“And we can talk about a unifying message from Joe Biden, he’s a naturally very unifying figure,” he added. “But then there’s the reality on the ground where their way of life has been disintegrating for years, and if we don’t address that, then you’re going to see a continued acceleration toward the institutional mistrust that animated the Trump vote and will continue to do so.”
Mr. Lemon appeared to agree and added that it’s probably “not good messaging” for leftists like Sen. Bernard Sanders to call themselves democratic socialists, “because then people relate it to actual socialists.”
Mr. Yang received a wave of mixed reviews from both sides of the aisle for his comments, propelling his name to a top U.S. trending topic on Twitter.
His comments came two nights into the ballot counting between President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, with still no declared winner.
Good morning. Andrew Yang is a multi millionaire from New York, living in New York, which locates him on a coast and makes him extraordinarily elite. To use “coastal elite” is to regurgitate a GOP talking point that in face replicates bigotry. /1 https://t.co/VW7jwIVwd0— David M. Perry (@Lollardfish) November 6, 2020
The coastal elite cities of Milwaukee, Detroit, Tucson, and Philadelphia that delivered Biden the presidency counter this trope Andrew Yang is parroting but acquiescence and empty gestures were themes of his presidential campaign. He is now a pundit.pic.twitter.com/QgohmlNa3g— Michael Arceneaux (@youngsinick) November 6, 2020
“in their minds the Democratic party..has taken..this role of..urban elites..more concerned about policing..cultural issues than improving their way of life”— Maajid أبو عمّار (@MaajidNawaz) November 6, 2020
Cease the mocking & hubris, focus on message, not messenger.
Thank you @AndrewYang 🙏🏽pic.twitter.com/hNB9y9vbDa
Andrew Yang is literally the only one in his party that gets it. https://t.co/POmAMKJHoa— Janice Dean (@JaniceDean) November 6, 2020
I’ve said it before but it bears repeating. @AndrewYang understands the mistakes that led us to Trump better than any other prominent Democrat. We’re not saying give up on social issues. We’re saying we must also work harder (and smarter) to improve the lives of every American. https://t.co/jcD0VddqIq— Ken Bone (@kenbone18) November 6, 2020
Wow - thank you @AndrewYang for not simply screaming that everyone who voted for trump is racist and a bigot. This is the crux of the problem with the Democratic Party and I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said here. There’s a reason you’re a political rising star… https://t.co/QF5q7tqbbJ— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) November 6, 2020
If you were an alien who dropped into American conversations about politics in the media, you’d think there were no working class people who aren’t white… Amazing that Andrew Yang is singing this same silly song… https://t.co/iJ7zIprQvC— Joy VOTE & MASK UP!! Reid 😷) (@JoyAnnReid) November 6, 2020
And Andrew Yang is crying about racists not voting Dem bcuz it’s the party of “coastal elites”. Please get him tf out of here. Get on the bus or get off! https://t.co/WfeTOf2gyl— Reagan Gomez (@ReaganGomez) November 6, 2020
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