YangGang and the “Jumping In” of Andrew Yang

A fundamental problem of our time is the exploitation of people’s inability to comprehend language. I don’t mean in the sense of “people can’t speak English” or anything like that. Words like “discouraged” are now misinterpreted as “banned.” “It’s okay to be white” is labeled “white supremacy.” Terms and phrases are arbitrarily redefined on the fly to fit whatever narrative or line of attack is most convenient. While this phenomenon is by no means unique to the era we live in, the amplifying ability of social media allows slander and misinformation to proliferate in a short period of time.. The mischaracterizations reach millions of people, and by the time they can be countered or debunked, the damage is already done. They’ve been mythologized into the public consciousness.

Andrew Yang is getting a taste of just how dishonestly and opportunistically people’s views get misrepresented in the current year. In many cases pundits / opponents just outright lie when they mischaracterize someone’s beliefs, while other instances can simply be chalked up to poor comprehension, omitted context, etc…to equal effect but with benign intention.

The most recent example of Yang running into this has been regarding his position on circumcision. It’s pretty simple. Yang said he would discourage the practice. He thinks parents should have a choice and be informed that it isn’t medically necessary. Notice how people twisted that into “This guy wants to effectively ban Islam and Judaism.” Totally bogus insinuation. There was nothing at all controversial in Yang’s statements about the issue.

Another instance was when he predicted whites would shoot up churches. Yang’s timing could not have been more “perfect.” Not only did this prediction eerily come true (the New Zealand shooting occurred on the same day Yang was defending his statements on this very issue,) but Yang’s broader point was to illustrate why it’s important to treat whites fairly as they become a minority and offer them an incentive to have a share in the future. Taken in their entirety, Yang’s comments clearly were not attempting to denigrate whites but to promote empathy and understanding.

I’ve also seen a number of people refer to Yang as being “anti-robot,” due to his emphasis on how automation will impact jobs. Far from being a Luddite, Yang is a futurist who surely supports advancements in robotics, automation and artificial intelligence. It’s just that he believes the humans workers displaced by automation should reap some of the benefits of these increases in labor efficiency. Everyone wins. The companies get the increased productivity from automation, and the former employees get a shorter work week and a cash dividend on the backend. The American revolutionaries used the slogan “No taxation without representation!” Yang’s variant might well be “No automation without compensation.” Similarly, with his proposal to demand social media companies give users a percentage of the money they get for collecting and selling users’ personal data, an apt rallying cry might be “No data extraction without a piece of the action!”

Yang is essentially being “jumped in” to the dissident political arena. These early, absurd distortions of his positions should serve to toughen him up and provide an eye-opening experience. If he realizes how easily his views can be grossly mischaracterized in this way, perhaps he might question his assumptions about the views and intentions of some of his more contemptible, “unpersoned” supporters. This is my third article promoting Yang for president. One might say that given some of the (mildly) controversial things I’ve written in the past, people like me aren’t welcome in the campaign. Well, that’s too bad. Yang is going to have a broad base of support whether he likes it or not. As long as we can remember this is about unifying people toward a common goal, there’s room on the Yang Yacht for everyone. Crack open a cold one, and set a course for bag island.

Brandon Adamson is the author of Skytrain to Nowhere and several other books of poetry.

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Yang Time!

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.

https://www.yang2020.com/

Brandon Adamson is the author of Skytrain to Nowhere and several other books of poetry.