LOS ANGELES - This week on The Issue Is, a major announcement, a reunion, and a deep dive into the latest stories surrounding the 2020 election, coronavirus, racial justice, and more.
To break it all down, Elex Michaelson is joined by former Presidential candidate Andrew Yang, 2018 California Gubernatorial candidate John Cox, and FOX Sports 1 host and former NFL defensive end Marcellus Wiley.
The conversation kicked off with Andrew Yang, the entrepreneur who outlasted Representatives, Senators, and even eventual Vice Presidential pick Kamala Harris in this year’s Democratic primary.
Now a staunch supporter of the Biden-Harris ticket, this week, Yang sounded the alarm via Twitter about the difficulties Democrats may face come November.
“Joe and Kamala have a lead that is consistent throughout the country, and is consistent even in the swing states,” Yang noted. “But as a I said, it is tough to beat an incumbent, that’s doubly true at the national level in a Presidential race, and one of the big question marks is how are our votes going to be counted and when will we know the results?”
With two months before election day, and both President Trump and former Vice President Biden hitting the trail again, Michaelson asked Yang what advice he would give the Biden campaign when it came to reaching younger voters online - something Yang did especially well during a primary run that saw the formation of an army of online supporters referred to as the #YangGang.
“Joe’s campaign has been making use of surrogates, like me, to reach young people where they are on Instagram and other social media platforms,” Yang said. “But the reality is that Joe’s appeal is broader, and beyond the Internet, it’s one of reason he’s our nominee.”
From national politics, the conversation shifted to California, and a ballot measure that Yang is now leading the charge to pass.
Proposition 24, also known as the California Privacy Rights and Enforcement Act of 2020, seeks to build upon 2018’s California Consumer Privacy Act, requiring businesses to allow consumers to opt-out of having their personal data shared, to obtain permission before collecting data on minor users, and more.
The initiative, as was the case with the CCPA, is being spearheaded by Californians for Consumer Privacy, which this week appointed Yang as chair of their advisory board.
“Proposition 24 sees to it that your data and privacy rights are yours,” Yang explained. “You can opt out of geo-targeting so they can’t tell where you are… if they negligently handle your data you can actually bring some kind of suit against them, and there’s a new data protection agency envisioned in this law that’s actually going to be working just on people’s data and privacy rights.”
“This is a major step forward,” Yang continued. “And you know it’s a good thing, because a lot of the tech companies don’t like it.”
But it’s not just tech companies that have come out against the Proposition, Michaelson pointing out bipartisan opposition that ranges from the ACLU of California and labor leader Dolores Huerta to the Editorial Board of the OC Register.
Yang pushed back against the criticism.
“What I’d say to California voters is ‘what’s happening to your data right now? Do you think that the tech companies and the data-brokers are looking out for you?” he asked. “Proposition 24 is a way to activate people’s data rights, so there’s actually a watchdog working on your behalf, where, right now, there is nobody.”
Also of importance to Yang, Universal Basic Income.
Once a centerpiece of his Presidential campaign, a $1,000 monthly guaranteed payment to all Americans, Yang’s proposal has begun to gain steam with local mayors like Long Beach’s Mayor Robert Garcia.
“The Yang Gang and I are thrilled that Mayors like Robert Garcia are leading the charge in implementing Universal Basic Income trials in their communities,” Yang said, citing recent polls that suggest 55% of Americans believe a UBI should be enacted in perpetuity.
Next up, Republican businessman John Cox, who in 2018 ran against Gavin Newsom to become Governor of California.
Governor Newsom won that match-up, taking 61.9% of the vote to Cox’s 38.1%, a vote difference of 2,978,585.
Two years on, Cox returned to The Issue Is to break the news that he has formed an exploratory committee to determine whether or not he’ll run against Newsom again in 2022.
“This state, right now, in crisis,” Cox said. “We’ve got 15% unemployment, small businesses are literally getting crushed, we can’t send our kids to school, the response out of Sacramento has been inconsistent.”
“The things I talked about during the campaign, the incredible housing cost that we’re incurring in our state, the homelessness crisis, these things have gotten worse, not better,” Cox continued. “Now we’re having fires that have fouled the air and threatened people all over the place.”
If Cox decides to run, he has a steep hill to climb. Not only would he have to make up that deficit from the 2018 race, but he has to contend with the partisan makeup of California, which by recent count has roughly 21 million voters, 46% of whom are registered Democrat, and less than 24% registered Republican.
Despite that mismatch, Cox reminded Michaelson that roughly a quarter of state voters are also “no party preference,” an indication, he believes, that there is a large swath of Californians who don’t trust either of the two major parties.
“There’s a lot of things that are going on here that I think people want to see fixed,” Cox said. “They want to see better management, and I’ve had 40 years of experience doing that, building a successful business, and I think I can apply those tools to making California better for a lot of people.”
One of those things Californians would want to see “fixed,” would be coronavirus, Michaelson asking how a Governor Cox would have responded to the pandemic.
“We should have been doing a lot of testing a lot earlier on so that we’d have a lot more confidence,” Cox said. “This idea of just smothering the economy and keeping everybody sheltered has resulted in a lot more suicides, a lot more mental illness, a lot more damage to people’s lives from destroying their small businesses, and that’s a damage that’s going to be with us for many, many years to come.”
After throwing his support towards President Trump in the Presidential race, Cox summed up why people should consider him for Governor in 2022: “An affordable and quality life in California, that’s what we want, affordable and quality, and we’re not getting that right now.”
Finally, Michaelson was joined by FOX Sports 1 host and former NFL Defensive End Marcellus Wiley.
This, as protests over racial justice spawned by the killing of George Floyd enter their fourth month, reignited in recent days by the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Last week, following the Blake shooting, players and teams from the NBA, NHL, and other major sports leagues walked out. In the NBA in particular, the strike lasted one day, but resulted in the league promising to not only promote social justice and civic engagement, but also to use stadiums across the country as polling places in November.
Michaelson asked Wiley what he makes of this intersection of athlete and activist.
“I”m excited for the social conscience to want to adjust to whatever our culture has presented itself in terms of some of the discrimination, racism, some of the issues that still plague our society, even at a lesser degree than before, but still in existence,” Wiley said.
Still, he cautioned that the burden cannot rest solely on the shoulders of athletes alone, and that while he does not support the idea that athletes should “shut up and dribble,” he believes they should “talk about their issues and pass the ball.”
Next, the conversation turned to Black Lives Matter, which earlier this summer, Wiley, citing elements of their mission statement that called to “dismantle the patriarchal practice” and “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement,” said he did not support.
“Remember, I’m born in 1974, so my Black life has mattered since the day I was born,” Wiley said. “It’s hard to support an organization or a movement that is, one, so young in its existence, two, so polarizing in that same existence… but I don’t think that that should be something that antagonizes anyone that does support Black Lives Matter.”
Beyond the conversation of BLM’s stance on the nuclear family, Michaelson asked Wiley, who grew up in Compton, what he made of another key viewpoint of many BLM supporters: defunding the police.
“It doesn’t make sense to me,” Wiley said. “My police interactions have been overwhelmingly positive, as they are, by the numbers, for everyone in this country, despite obviously some negative occurrences and unfortunate situations that have occurred.”
But as the times become more hyper-charged, the views more extreme, and the goal becomes fame and followers rather than what Wiley called “love and leaders,” Wiley again stressed that many of the solutions, in his mind, could be found in the home, with a strong nuclear family.
“Going beyond the data, that obviously supports a nuclear family, and especially if you want to narrow that focus to the Black community, I think the erosion of the nuclear family is in part supporting and contributing to the ills of our community,” Wiley said.
Wiley then shared a story about his own upbringing, how his grandmother, seeking a better life for her kids moved from Watts to Compton. Wiley’s mother, then seeking a better life for herself and her family, moved from Compton to a small apartment in South Central.
“My parents were there to just support me, encourage me, and navigate me through all the ills that we had seen in our own family, let alone in our community,” Wiley said.
Recounting those experiences, being shot at six times, and being mistakenly held at gunpoint by police twice, Wiley said that he’s “just guy who’s been through it, and now I’m in a world where I’m looking at people who haven’t been through it, therefore it kind of shows in their rhetoric.”
The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com.