It’s not just that Democrat presidential candidate Andrew Yang likes to tell jokes — it’s that his entire candidacy may itself very well be nothing but a joke.
While this may sound harsh, it’s how a large number of people appeared to react after the 2020 contender transformed his presidential campaign into a veritable sweepstakes competition.
And that, FYI, is no joke.
Watch the transformation below as it played out at Thursday’s Democrat presidential debate:
Source: ABC News
“When you donate money to a presidential campaign, what happens?” he asked during his opening statement at the debate. “The politician spends the money on TV ads and consultants and you hope it works out. It’s time to trust ourselves more than our politicians.”
“That’s why I’m going to do something unprecedented tonight. My campaign will now give a freedom dividend of $1,000 a month for an entire year to 10 American families, someone watching this at home right now.”
“If you believe that you can solve your own problems better than any politician, go to yang2020.com and tell us how $1,000 a month will help you do just that. This is how we will get our country working for us again, the American people.”
When a staff member of BizPac Review signed up for the veritable sweepstakes late Thursday evening, no option was presented for him to explain how $1,000 a month would help him.
Instead, he was asked only to submit his first and last name, his email address, and his zip code. After registering for the sweepstakes, he received the following email:
It was arguably a clever move by Yang because it gave his campaign access to the BPR staff member’s email address.
The fact that the 2020 contender would pull such an astonishing stunt was nevertheless not well received but rather widely mocked and criticized by liberals and conservatives alike for a variety of reasons. For one, Yang’s move may have been illegal in more ways than just one.
“Yang to give away $120,000. You must register your sweepstakes giveaway 30 days PRIOR to the date it starts,” filmmaker Leo Daniels warned. “$1,000 a month to 10 families for 1 year with the money coming from campaign funds, would constitute as a BRIBE and illegal use of campaign funds.”
Yang to give away $120,000. You must register your sweepstakes giveaway 30 days PRIOR to the date it starts. $1,000 a month to 10 families for 1 year with the money coming from campaign funds, would constitute as a BRIBE and illegal use of campaign funds. https://t.co/E6LS7VgPLL
— Leo Daniels Ent.? (@LeoRules1) September 13, 2019
— Jonathan Tasini (@jonathantasini) September 13, 2019
Second, Yang’s competition felt like a literal sweepstakes competition no different than gimmicky ones ran by the likes of Publishers Clearing House.
“It’s a pretty sleazy gimmick, paying for votes,” one critic opined on Twitter.
“Yang’s ‘I’ll give a few people UBI for a few months’ is sleazy, even if it’s legal. Giving ten families a few thousand bucks is not UBI. It kind of makes a joke out of the whole business, imo,” another chimed in.
UBI refers to Universal Basic Income. It’s an actual policy proposal by Yang that calls for the government doling out $1,000 per month to every U.S. citizen over the age of 18.
“This form of basic income that he is proposing for the United States is a set of guaranteed payments of $1,000 per month, or $12,000 per year, to all U.S. citizens over the age of 18,” the proposal on his campaign website reads. “Yes, that means you and everyone you know would get $1,000/month every month from the U.S. government, no questions asked.”
Many have criticized the plan because it’s financially unfeasible to the tune of $3 trillion in costs per year — a price so high it’s comparable to the equally exorbitant costs of the “Green New Deal” and “Medicare-for-All.”
Meanwhile, paying out $12,000 to just ten families would cost only $120,000, which raises the question of what exactly Yang is trying to move with his gimmicky stunt. If anything, it seems to many that he’s not trying to prove anything — he’s just trying to literally buy votes.
It’s a pretty sleazy gimmick, paying for votes.
— Wendy Sorek (@tofugirrl) September 13, 2019
Yang’s “I’ll give a few people UBI for a few months” is really sleazy, even if it’s legal. Giving ten families a few thousand bucks is not UBI. It kind of makes a joke out of the whole business, imo.
— Mangy Jay (@magi_jay) September 13, 2019
— james glina (@glinaarts) September 13, 2019
Yang was literally buying votes at $1K a month ?
— bryanboy (@bryanboy) September 13, 2019
Andrew Yang: $1,000/mo for every American citizen.
Everyone: he’s just buying votes!
— manny. (@MannySemidey) September 13, 2019
The latter critic above did have a point, though. While Yang’s contest does seem like an attempt to buy votes, it’s technically no different than what almost everybody else on stage at the debate Thursday night has been promising, including but not limited to:
Come to think of it, it’s almost as if the whole Democrat primary is itself just a big ol’ sweepstakes.
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