Andrew Yang, the founder of the Forward Party and former Democratic presidential candidate, came to the Westward Ho at ASU's Downtown campus to speak with students about the future of independent parties in a two-party system.
ASU's Center for an Independent and Sustainable Democracy worked with Watts College to bring this event to fruition.
"I came here to support independent voting," said Mollie Mccurdy, an undergraduate student studying public service and public policy. "I felt like it was important to show up and be here and give a presence."
Despite Yang’s political prominence, there wasn't an incredibly large turnout.
"I think events like these encourage the conversation, but based on the number of people who showed up here, knowing all of Watts College got an email about this, it shows me that maybe there isn’t as much participation in the independent voter arena for young people," Mccurdy said. "I think the people here were very interested in it, but I am curious about the people who weren’t in this room."
Those who did attend, however, actively engaged in the conversation with Yang. Two ASU students, Katie Fite, a senior studying public service and public policy, and Jordyn Walhof a senior with three majors, led an interview with Yang. During this time, Yang spoke on the Forward Party's platform and goals, such as establishing ranked choice voting nationwide to allow for more political parties to emerge.
"Let's say you agree that it makes sense to have more parties, you start by going from two to three, and that’s what the Forward Party is designed to do," Yang said. "And how can we do this? There’s a bill in Congress right now called the 'Fair Representation Act' that shifts to multi-member districts that would probably lead to a multi-party system very quickly."
After the interview, Yang answered questions from the crowd and took pictures with the gathered students.
Yang also stated his intention to spend more time in Arizona over the next two years, since the state is so politically mixed. Paired with his discussion of an independent candidate running for president in 2024, this may hint that he is considering running again, this time representing the Forward Party.
Jacqueline Salit, the co-director of the Center for an Independent and Sustainable Democracy emphasized the importance of discussing new ideas for democracy.
"It's so important that the students at ASU and that young people, in general, have an opportunity to learn about new systems, about how the rules work and how those who make the rules rule and that we have it in our power to change that," Salit said. "That’s what today’s discussion was about and we’re very pleased to bring these conversations to campus, and we hope to do many more."
Edited by Reagan Priest, David Rodish and Grace Copperthite.