S.E. Cupp: Andrew Yang isn’t angry, & that’s great
Two upstarts in the 2020 presidential election — Andrew Yang and Marianne Williamson — are both polling well below the front of the pack. The three front-runners — Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — currently enjoy a full 60% of Democratic support nationwide.
But despite their lack of wide support, Yang and Williamson are not unimportant. For one, the novice Yang is still outpolling other seasoned politicos. For another, Williamson has 2.8 million Twitter followers who are paying attention to every word she says.
But Yang and Williamson tell another important story, and it’s perhaps one that the other candidates might want to consider. They’re presenting themselves in very different ways, and voters are responding in kind.
There’s no better example of the happy warrior in the 2020 Democratic field than Yang.
Frequently smiling, occasionally dancing, even crowd-surfing, the businessman rarely raises his voice, has a penchant for self-deprecation, and hesitates to use any airtime disparaging his opponents.
Sure, it’s easy to be nonchalant when your candidacy is improbable and many in the media don’t take you seriously. It’s likely you know Yang is offering a monthly $1,000 universal basic income for every American adult, but it’s unlikely you know, say, that he is former CEO of Manhattan Prep, a test prep company later acquired by Kaplan.
Yang’s campaign strategies may seem like gimmicks. But his debate announcement , that he would give away $120,000 to 10 families over a year, helped him raise $1 million in 72 hours and collect more than 450,000 email addresses, the campaign told Politico.
Yang is defined most importantly by a marked incapacity for anger. His response to the “Saturday Night Live” hiring and then firing of a comic for past racist jokes highlighted a penchant for forgiveness that his opponents seem to eschew in favor of self-righteous indignation and emotional tirades.
Williamson, on the other hand, has cast herself as the country’s foremost know-it-all shrink, insufferable life coach and high school guidance counselor who’s constantly disappointed in you.
Quick with a criticism and end-times prediction, Williamson didn’t make the last debate but still made her seething resentment known. Appearing on MSNBC she complained that the “Democratic Party is in such a state of denial,” and that there was “no conversation of any depth or reality about what the president represents.”
And regardless of a campaign that she’s largely framed as a return to love, she most often pivots to our deep and unabiding moral sickness, problems like depression and suicide, anger and fear — things that aren’t likely to be solved by politics and definitely shouldn’t be solved by any political leader who believes she can.
The contrast may help explain why Williamson’s campaign never really got off the ground and why Yang is steadily building. After nearly four years of Donald Trump’s mouth-foaming insults and divisive fearmongering, maybe America not only wants to come together but also to lighten up.
Many voters are sick of being scolded, being told to be outraged, being whipped into a frenzy. It’s exhausting, and part of what makes Yang so appealing is that he hasn’t bought into the 2019 political precept that the world is ending.
It’s why, instead of writing him off, so many are saying, “I’ll have what he’s having.”
S.E. Cupp is the host of “S.E. Cupp Unfiltered” on CNN.