Andrew Yang on Loyal ‘Yang Gang’ Base: ‘I Came from the Internet’

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 15: Democratic U.S. presidential hopeful Andrew Yang hosts a campaign rally at the Lincoln Memorial April 15, 2019 in Washington, DC. One of Yang’s major campaign promises is a universal basic income proposal to give every American 18 years and older $1,000 every month. (Photo by …
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democrat presidential hopeful Andrew Yang was one of the more than 20 candidates that attended Rep. Jim Clyburn’s (D-SC) annual fish fry in Columbia, South Carolina, last month, where a reporter shadowed the technology guru and wrote a tome about him for Rolling Stone.

The lengthy article includes Yang’s practice of accepting all interview requests — his way of fighting “identity politics.”

“The alt-righters and other racists aspiring to join the Yang Gang are a byproduct of the way his campaign was built: He wanted to reach disaffected voters, and he was willing to go wherever they were to find them,” the Rolling Stone article said. “That includes online, where almost everybody is looking to connect but nobody is taking tickets at the door.”

“And so when Yang put out a flare for the disillusioned, he found people worried that neither party had a plan for economic security in an automated age,” Rolling Stone reported. “And despite all the rejections, rebukes, and Reddit downvotes, he attracted folks angry that being a white guy with WiFi didn’t afford them the supremacy they’d never deserved but long come to expect.”

Yang said he doesn’t want people of this ilk to be in the “Yang Gang” but acknowledges that his rising political star comes from the online universe.

“I came from the internet,” Yang said.

Not only is Yang, like President Trump, a political outsider, he didn’t even vote in the last Democrat primary, according to Rolling Stone, which also reported that, if he had, he would have voted for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Rolling Stone reported on Yang’s journey since he launched his campaign in early 2018:

A year and a half later, Yang, 44, is still introducing himself. But many of the people who have heard of him, who took in his interview with Fear Factor-host-turned-podcasting-king Joe Rogan or browsed his website’s absurdly long and eclectic list of policy positions, have come away intrigued and, in some cases, enamored. Over a span of months, Yang has ascended from sideshow to a Top 10 candidate in several recent polls. Morning Consult’s latest survey of Democratic primary voters ranked him seventh, tied with Senator Cory Booker; the candidates who trail 

Yang in that poll have more than 150 years of combined experience in elected office. Yang qualified for the first two Democratic National Committee debates in June and July well before the deadline; he has more Twitter followers than half of the Democratic field; and despite a disappointing performance at the Miami debate (he spoke the least of all 20 candidates), he’s blown past the threshold of 130,000 unique donors for the third and fourth debates this fall.

The article, which trashes Trump as a “human wrecking ball,” reports on one of Yang’s signature platform planks: universal basic income of $1,000 a month for every American over 18.

Yang calls his plan the “Freedom Dividend,” and he likes to point out that other American leaders have also promoted income guarantees, such as Thomas Paine, Martin Luther King Jr., and Richard Nixon.

“If you’ve heard anything about me, you’ve heard this: There’s an Asian man running for president that wants to give everyone a thousand dollars a month,” Yang said at the fish fry. 

Yang also is using his campaign platform to warn against robots taking over American manufacturing.

The Rolling Stone reporter admits Yang made him feel guilty.

“The last time a fringe candidate came along and started to gain traction, I dismissed him as a fluke and a fraud,” the reporter wrote. “That candidate was Donald Trump.”

The article also notes another Yang policy plan: replacing the GDP with an “American Scorecard” that “takes into account life expectancy, average income, health outcomes, clean air, and clean water.”

“He said he’d present the results every year during the State of the Union using PowerPoint,” Rolling Stone reported.

Follow Penny Starr on Twitter.


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