Andrew Yang: What is the Yang Gang?
Given the myriad of Democratic primary candidates, a number that seemingly increases as each day goes by, it’s difficult for the many who aren’t in tune with the currently tumultuous political atmosphere to keep up with the ever changing list.
Many of the supposed faces of the Democratic Party are seemingly sitting this election in favor of newer candidates. Of course, some of the well known figures are there—Bernie Sanders, Beto O’ Rourke, and possibly Joe Biden— but other than that, the faces are relatively unknown. This situation should not be looked down upon, but rather, considered favorable. Throughout history, candidates that seemed to have run off of reputation alone (looking at you Joe Biden) keep their policies in the background (a tactic that is being executed to a T by Beto O’ Rourke) in favor of a campaign structured around partisan catch-all phrases about “change” and “progress” and “yes we can.” But candidates who haven’t achieved the same levels of reverence as career politicians are faced with a challenge of getting people to genuinely care about them. This candidate has encapsulated a myriad of political buzzwords but if one stands out above the rest it is “grassroots.” Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttiege both boast impressive campaign fundraising but what’s even more impressive is their average donation size and the amount of individual donations (18 million dollars with 900,000 individual donators giving an of $20 and 7 million dollars with 158,500 individual donors and an average of $36, respectively). Candidates who receive a large portion of campaign donations from PAC and large organizations seemingly wear a red mark of death, as they appear detached from their constituents and easily influenced. There is another candidate, who, despite not bringing in the prodigious amounts of funds as the aforementioned candidates (1.7 million with 80,000 individual donors giving an average of $17.92) has become a seemingly overnight star, as each appearance of the dark horse candidate generates a rapid increase in both donations and in popularity. And, through his successful attempt at meeting the quota to appear on the CNN Primary Debates Floor, an up-soar in recognition will follow suit.
But until then, who exactly is Andrew Yang?
Depending on your age or where you receive your media, it’s possible that you have heard of the 44 year-old for two reasons: his policies of a universal basic income or the memes (more on that later). His implementation of a universal basic income ($1,000 a month to all US citizens above the age of 18), or, as he calls it, the Freedom Dividend, is ostensibly the kernel issue of Yang’s Campaign, as he believes that one of the looming threats to the modern American worker is the rise of AI and the unemployment that would follow. This universal basic income would be paid for by a new tax placed upon corporations that benefit the most from automation. Yang was born in upstate New York to parents who had immigrated from Taiwan. Yang considers his parents’ attempts at experiencing the American Dream for themselves and his son one of his primary raisons d’êtres. Before he began his campaign, Yang was not a career politician, but rather an entrepreneur and a lawyer. Graduating from Brown with a major in political science and economics as well as graduating from Columbia Law School, Yang has presided over a series of projects, most notably an education company that grew to be the highest ranked in the country. Once this education company, Manhattan Prep, was acquired, Yang used his new found wealth to start up the non profit program Venture For America, an organization that helps entrepreneurs create jobs in cities like Baltimore, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland.
In my incipient research of the candidate, one of the most endearing aspects of his campaign was the transparency in his policy pages. Yang dedicated an entire page to simply a plethora of hyperlinks to elaborate descriptions for each policy, what they will attempt to achieve, and what will be required of them. When compared to Kamala Harris’ page (a word soup of politician jargon and appealing terms like democracy and inequality with no substance behind them) or with Bernie Sanders’ page (literally just a donation link), the translucency of Yang is unprecedented. Some of his policies also call for a decentralized government in some instances, primarily his call for a decrease in bureaucracy within the federal workforce. Yang is also a social candidate. His policies are aimed at reviving the public goods and other industries that have been undervalued by the market and that are core to the human experience. He proposes a new stage of capitalism that relies on public funding and government intervention to align the goals of human well being and fulfillment with the GDP of the country. Yang has also placed a concentration on adopting new measurements of studying the economy, ranging from Levels of engagement with Work and Labor Participation Rate to Re-acclimation of Incarcerated Individuals and Rates of Criminality.
The final question regarding Yang is where he is going to receive his support. Yang could gain support from the Left because of his stances on corruption and dedication to ensuring ethical practices within a variety of different industries. Yang has also shunned AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a move that is looked upon favorably by leftists. But these very same people may be repelled by his pro-capitalist rhetoric. In response to this, Yang has admitted that he doesn’t subscribe to the capitalist/socialist dichotomy, and believes that a new modified economic stage of capitalism is required to deal with society’s imminent issues. Yang has also encapsulated many of the hot issues that liberal democrats have brought into the forefront during this election. With his inclusion, liberals who aren’t satisfied with the political inactivity of Beto, Kamala, and Biden could be attracted towards Yang’s dedication to his agenda. Finally, the most avid supporters of Andrew Yang are the members of the Yang Gang, a series of users who post Yang related memes to social media sites such as Reddit, Instagram, and 4 Chan. Although these efforts could quickly be discounted as unnecessary and ineffective, these memes are targeted at a younger audience, an audience who will buttress Yang throughout this election.