Presidential candidate Andrew Yang visited Knoxville on Jan. 6, where he spoke to a full room at Peace Tree Brewing.

Presidential candidate Andrew Yang packed Peace Tree Brewing Company over the weekend, with over 150 voters attending his meet and greet event in Knoxville on Jan. 4.

Yang is the founder of the non-profit organization Venture for America, which strives to train entrepreneurs to create jobs in cities across the country. His campaign slogan, MATH, encourages voters to “make America think harder” and move the country forward.

Yang’s visit to Knoxville marked his third stop in Marion County since launching his campaign. He proudly proclaims that he is not a politician, and says he is the exact opposite of Donald Trump, making him the ideal candidate for president.

“I’m not running for president because I dreamed about being president as a kid,” Yang said. “I’m running for president because like you all, I’m a parent and a patriot. I have seen the future we are leaving for our children and it is not something I’m willing to accept. I’m asking you to change it with me.”

Yang is proposing a universal basic income to all American adults over the age of 18. He suggests giving everyone $1,000 a month to benefit from the rising tide of technology and automation, which he says are consuming jobs within local communities. Yang calls this a trickle-up economy.

“Many of the things that we prize as most important to us, the market does not value at all, and that’s what we need to change,” Yang said to local media following the event. “We need to say, ‘Look, we all have intrinsic value as human beings and Americans, and we need to make the machine work for us instead of us working for the machine.’”

Yang says the country needs to take steps to “humanize the economy” and prioritize things to make the people stronger and healthier.

“We have to turn the clock forward. We have to accelerate our economy and society to rise to real challenges,” Yang told voters. “We have to evolve the ways we think about ourselves and our work and our value.”

With the Iowa Caucuses only 30 days away from his visit, Yang reminded everyone in the room of their importance. He told voters that after doing the math, he came to the conclusion that one Iowa is worth 1,000 Californians.

“You have the power to do something that other Americans only dream about,” Yang said. They look up at our government and see the pipes clogged full of lobbyist cash… and they wish they could flush the pipes clean, but they can do nothing about it. Only you can. You have the power, and you alone, to flush the pipes and actually put the people in charge of our government.”

Following the meet and greet event, Yang sat down with local media to discuss other issues. One of the topics he discussed was caring for veterans. Yang believes that veterans are not receiving the right resources to become healthier and stronger, and more needs to be done for the country’s veterans.

“Big picture, it’s unconscionable that we’re spending $700 billion on the military industrial complex and not enough on our veterans,” Yang said. “To me, service begins when you recruit someone into the armed forces, and they’re still serving you until the day they die. Just because they’ve de-enlisted and come back home does not mean that we still don’t owe them a great debt.”

Yang’s underlying theme of making Americans healthier and stronger was evident throughout his morning in Knoxville. He reminded those in attendance that they were the ones who could bring a change come caucus time.

Yang left voters with one final reminder during his visit, saying, “It is your job to move us not left, not right, but forward in 30 days.”

Emma Skahill can be reached at eskahill@journalexpress.net or by calling the Knoxville newsroom at 641-842-2155.

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