Within the span of a brief couple of weeks, Andrew Yang has gone from being an obscure longshot candidate to a leading contender for the winning the nomination in the 2020 democratic presidential primary. If this momentum can be sustained, it’s only a matter of time before Yang will, against all odds, become the frontrunner and eventual nominee.
There are two things which distinguish Yang from the other candidates. First, with his Universal Basic Income proposal, Yang is the only candidate who represents real, radical change. Bernie no longer is a revolutionary candidate. He increasingly parrots establishment views on foreign policy (usually just to score points on attacking Trump) and has demonstrated recently how easily bullied he is by the media into accepting their narratives about his own campaign being not committed to “social justice” enough. He talks tough but is quick to appease when it actually matters. Tulsi Gabbard is a solid reformer on foreign policy but lacks the sort of grand vision which could inspire voters to engage in the determined activism required to overcome electoral obstacles.
Secondly, and most importantly Yang is the only candidate who can unify all factions of political dissidents. In fact, he’s already done it. It has been amazing to see all the people who have relentlessly attacked each other for years come together for #YangGang: Irony bros, white nationalists, Bernie bros, weird twitter, the AltRight, the AltLite, disillusioned Trump supporters, intersectional feminists, TERFs, gays, accelerationists, transgenders, radical centrists, transhumanists, AmNats, NEETs, FrogTwitter, etc… the list goes on and on. You can see the handfuls of remaining individuals that are either ideologically entrenched in outdated paradigms or simply can’t bring themselves to set aside past differences to have fun and be part of a campaign which has the potential to improve the lives of everyone. Sticking out like sore thumbs, they come off like bitter chumps, absolutely miserable to be around.
The only way this momentum can be sustained and that Yang will have any chance to win is if we are willing to tolerate each other as allies, focused on the prize and uniting for a greater purpose. We cannot allow ourselves to get baited into the “guilt by association” games or divide and conquer ploys which are about to be unleashed. We must also resist the temptation to snipe at old adversaries and fall back into the familiar, longstanding petty “e-feuds” which have bogged us down for so long. The media is already beginning to take notice that Yang is drawing support from the same unsavory legions (and I count myself among them) who helped get Trump elected in 2016.
The first impulse of many puzzled Yang supporters will be to disavow such support or “help” from all nefarious characters and instruct that “hate fueled” individuals have no place in this campaign. To do so would be a huge mistake, playing right into the enemy’s hands and would ultimately amount to a misreading of Yang’s appeal. Indeed, the magic of Yang’s unifying candidacy is that it transcends 20th century ideological paradigms. Support for Yang from politically incorrect or “problematic” circles should not be perceived as hate inspired. Rather it should reflect well on Yang that his solutions oriented approach and innovative policy proposals are so appealing, that people are willing to set aside racial, ideological and personal grievances in the pursuit of actualizing ideas which will benefit all of us. Do not get hung up on the fact that someone or some group whom you find abhorrent is supporting the same candidate as you. Of course, there are some people who are cynically supporting Yang because they view him as some kind of doomsday agent whose policies will collapse the entire system and cause the irredeemable US to receive the implosion it richly deserves. So what though? There were bitter people who supported Trump as a “chaos candidate,” and their votes still counted to get him elected (though Trump actually turned out to be a rather unremarkable, run of the mill republican president.) Just because pthers are supporting Yang for their own misguided reasons doesn’t mean you can’t support him for the right ones. At the end of the day, all that matters is who Andrew Yang is and what his policies are. That Yang has the power to unite you with the people you love to hate is what makes this campaign truly unprecedented in modern times. If you haven’t already, take the Nestea Plunge and join the #YangGang.
Brandon Adamson is the author of Skytrain to Nowhere and several other books of poetry.