A former tech company executive who’s a political newcomer —“I am not a career politician, as most of you know. I’m an entrepreneur.”— with a devoted internet following.“Hello, I’m Andrew Yang.”And an army of memes. Andrew Yang is running for president.So, who is he?
Yang is the son of Taiwanese immigrants and a lawyer by training. But he made his mark as an entrepreneur. He helped build a college test preparation business that was bought by a big company. And it made him a modest fortune.
“Are you ready to build something?” After that, he started an organization that connects college graduates with startups. That job took him across the Midwest and eventually led him to politics.
“We automated away four million manufacturing jobs in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and so I was like, why are we not talking about that? So, that’s where this all started.”
So, what are his priorities? Well, he’s got a long list. But the one policy that’s turning heads:
“Universal basic income —”
“Universal basic income —”
“He calls it the Freedom Dividend.”
“Now if you’ve heard anything about me, you‘ve heard that there’s an Asian man running for president who wants to give everyone $1,000 a month. And all of those things are true.”
Yang says this will ease the pain caused by the robot apocalypse, as more jobs become automated. His internet army, known as the Yang Gang — “Where’s the money? Where’s the money? We have the money.” — helped sell the policy with the #SecureTheBag hashtag.
But opponents of the plan say its price tag makes it unrealistic. It could cost approximately $2 trillion, roughly half the current federal budget.Some of his other policy proposals? Medicare for all, gun safety and even free marriage counseling for all.The dilemma to Yang as an internet darling?
Some of that support is coming from the internet’s far right, in places like 4chan, Gab and 8chan.Yang has spoken out against it. But there’s no doubt it’s helped him go viral.“You know, it’s been a point of confusion because I don’t look much like a white nationalist.So, I’ve completely disavowed any of that support.”
What’s his relationship with President Trump?Well, Yang has positioned himself like this: “The opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian guy who likes math. And then there’s even an acronym we’re working with, which is Make America Think.” And he hasn’t held back. “As an entrepreneur, most entrepreneurs feel like Donald Trump gives us all a bad name and he’s more of a marketing charlatan than he is a real builder.” Yang doesn’t seem to be on Trump’s radar just yet.Yang says he’s the candidate to beat Trump because he’s focused on the economic anxiety that got Trump into the White House.
“We need to evolve to the next form of our economy in order for Americans to have a path forward.” So, what are his chances?
Yang is still a fringe candidate by conventional standards and polling behind the leading Democratic contenders.
But in an era where a so-called meme army helped President Trump win, being an online megastar could still count for something.