Andrew Yang and His Unconventional Persona and Campaign
by Nora Hogan
Do you lie awake at night stressing about the impending robot takeover? Never fear, for Andrew Yang is here to put “humanity first” and protect your job not from an immigrant at the border, but from the Alexa in your room.
Promising policies like the Freedom Dividend, a “Universal Basic Income” of $1,000 per month, Medicare for All and human-centered capitalism, Yang reins in disenfranchised voters from both sides of the aisle. Although Yang may be polling at 3% nationally (Politico/Morning Consult), he has traction among Americans who voted for Trump in 2016. According to a recent Economist/YouGov poll, 10% of Trump supporters would consider voting for Yang in 2020. On online chat rooms and subreddits, many liberals who identified as Bernie Bros from 2016 are abandoning the Senator from Vermont to join the Yang Gang, including Andrew Yang himself. He states: “I was a Bernie supporter in 2016, but now I’m here, and I am younger, fresher, more modern, more Asian, more tech-savvy than Bernie.”
Yang’s unconventional popularity was born after his appearance on comedian Joe Rogan’s popular podcast. The podcast episode, which currently has nearly 4 million views on YouTube, first aired in February of this year. By early March, he had exceeded 65,000 donors, qualifying Yang for the first two debates, according to Vox.
Since then, the internet has had a field day generating memes for and about the Yang Gang™. Unfortunately, as Yang draws support from users on sites like 4chan and 8chan, the campaign may face some issues, as these online forums are known to be popular among white nationalists according to The Verge. In a Mother Jones interview with one of Yang’s alt-right supporters, apparently many fringe “Yang Gangers” hope that the Freedom Dividend, the centerpiece of Yang’s policy platform, will create a so-called “digital border wall,” meaning, “[i]f everything costs more and only American citizens have access to UBI [Universal Basic Income], then undocumented immigrants will have less economic incentive to come to the United States.” In a Vox interview, Yang addressed his relative online fame among extremists, stating: “If you excise any racist white nationalist, bigotry leanings, I find the whole thing hysterical . . . . You know what I mean? Imagine seeing your face on dragons and whatnot. The whole thing is funny.”
Regardless, the politically inexperienced “Asian man who likes math” (Andrew Yang, 2019) is giving nationally-known politicians a run for their money. However, the public’s love for political outsiders is no phenomenon in today’s day and age. Micheal Kruse, a senior staff writer for Politico, draws a parallel between Trump’s and Yang’s campaigns:
“While Yang talks in different, far less overtly divisive ways, identifies different scapegoats (robots, not immigrants) and offers different solutions (cash, not walls), he’s zeroed in on the same elemental problem Trump did en route to his shock of a win in ’16: A large portion of the populace is being left behind, and it’s not remotely OK.” While Yang may not be preaching “MAGA” per se, he is trying to “MATH,” that is, “Make America Think Harder.”
As more Democratic candidates drop from the primary with each passing week (fly high Jay Inslee), the race for the presidency is guaranteed to get more interesting. Will Andrew Yang run as an independent in the event that he gets edged out for the nomination? Will we be ruled for another four years by the Cheeto King himself if this happens? Who knows! Time for the popcorn, or the tissues, I guess.