If you are my friend or follower on social media, you may have noticed — and perhaps found it curious, if not weird, since I am a Filipino and not a U.S. citizen — that most of my posts are about the U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang. This post is where I explain why.
You may already know that I first became aware of Andrew Yang’s run for the presidency after watching historian Rutger Bregman’s talk on Universal Basic Income (UBI). It wasn’t long before YouTube’s (thanks YouTube!) algorithm recommended to me an interview of Andrew Yang. And that was the start of my journey into the Andrew Yang rabbit hole. (Once you fall through, it’s very hard to climb back up.)
Next stop in the adventures, as people in the comment section recommended, was Joe Rogan’s podcast. For members of the #YangGang — the collective monicker for Yang’s supporters, and the campaign’s de facto hashtag — the Rogan podcast with Andrew Yang is usually the point of no return. Yang’s strength is the long-form interview, and once you hear one, especially this now iconic conversation, you are hooked for life. It was the same for me, and members of the Yang Gang can relate to this.
When you wake up, you want to watch the latest video or news or interview of Andrew Yang. Before you go to bed, you need to have your fill of Yang content. You have this urge to tell friends and family about this guy who is “the opposite of Donald Trump, the Asian guy who likes MATH.” MATH connotes love for facts and evidence-based solutions. It’s also the acronym for Make America Think Harder, the answer and/or antidote to Trump’s MAGA or Make America Great Again.
But going back to the purpose of this article, here are the reasons why I, a non-U.S. citizen — and there are many of us from all continents — am #YangGang.
If Andrew Yang wins, it will mainstream Basic Income. Yang’s flagship policy is Universal Basic Income (UBI) which he has named the Freedom Dividend (because, according to him, it polls better with conservatives). Watching Rutger Bregman’s TED talk about Basic Income, and researching more about it, convinced me that Basic Income is a major solution to the problem of inequality and poverty, empowering & giving economic freedom to individuals and communities.
In Bregman’s book Utopia for Realists, he included a graph showing how inequality and social ills (and health) are interrelated. The greater your nation’s inequality, the more you are plagued by social problems. It doesn’t matter if you are a developed or developing country.
Here in the Philippines, where poverty rate is around 20%, it would be easier to advocate for an unconditional (emphasis on this word) Basic Income, if one of the leading economies in the world — the U.S. — adopts it. And even if your goals are not overly ambitious, e.g. providing regular incomes (which may be time-bound) to survivors of natural (typhoons and earthquakes) and man-made (extrajudicial killings related to the brutal War on Drugs & suppression of dissent) disasters, implementing and gathering resources for these unconditional cash transfer programs would be easier.
Andrew Yang is an authentic human being who truly cares. Yang is a graduate of two Ivy League schools, a lawyer, and entrepreneur, and he could have gotten filthy rich (his net worth is estimated to be just around 1 million USD) but he chose to pursue the path of helping new graduates and would-be entrepreneurs via his non-profit Venture for America.
He saw the need to create more jobs throughout rest of America and he did something about it. And when he found out that the loss of jobs because of automation was faster than he and the rest of America could create employment, he decided to run for president when he saw the government would not do anything about it. He truly cares for his country and for his family. In this clip of his interview with the lawyer/political activist Lawrence Lessig, his voice breaks at the the end when explained why he was running.
And the greatest proof of his authenticity is when he interacts with his supporters. For example, Yang prevented this guy from getting hurt while the latter was taking a video with his smart phone.
In other words, Andrew Yang walks his talk. During his campaign, he has given 1,000 USD a month for 1 year to more than 10 recipients, just to show that the Freedom Dividend works, improving lives.
Andrew Yang is extremely intelligent. He is well-read, and up to date about the newest evidence and data about the issues. He now has more than 160 policies (and growing) on his website Yang2020.com, ranging from big issues like Universal Basic Income, Healthcare/Medicare For All, Climate Change, Gun Safety, Harm Reduction and Decriminalization of drug use, to relatively smaller ones like paying student athletes, banning robo-calls, having a White House psychologist, etc. His intelligence also shines through in the way he has conducted this campaign, treating it like a start-up, and making it as organic as possible.
Andrew Yang is an excellent communicator. He stays on message in his interviews and speeches. He has mastered the art of the call and response in his rallies which has solidified his bond with the #YangGang. He is so good with this strategy of repetition that one supporter has even memorized his stump speech.
Andrew Yang is an optimist. One cannot fake one’s personality and character. And Andrew Yang’s positive energy oozes from his person and is infectious. Although he paints a dystopic future, he believes that we can do something about it with the right and creative solutions.
Andrew Yang will be a great leader for the 4th Industrial Revolution. Automation will displace millions of jobs, and Universal Basic income will provide the floor from which the displaced, or what the economist and Basic Income advocate Guy Standing has called the precariat, can navigate and survive this next great disruption. Yang knows technology, and is the best-equipped candidate to provide the solutions.
Andrew Yang unites. Andrew Yang has started a movement called the Yang Gang. And this movement is not just national, but international in composition. Domestically, it is highly diverse, made up of broad coalition of Democrats, Republicans, progressives, conservatives, independents, libertarians, disaffected Trump supporters, and very significantly, the politically disengaged. Internationally, you can find people in social media and the chat groups supporting him from the Americas, Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, etc.
Moreover, this powerhouse support is technologically-savvy, spreading the #Yang2020 message on platforms like Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube. The latter streaming and video platform is the bailiwick of the Yang Gang, with supporters who have organically become major influencers in the Yang Universe: e.g. actor Paget Kagy, 18-year old, film major, Kai Watson, Mindful Skeptics’ Boyce Littlefield, and graph-loving Nerds for Yang Youtuber, Tom Leung. Twitter meanwhile is the second major stronghold of the Yang Gang, where Andrew Yang’s followers has recently reached the 1 million milestone, and growing fast as we speak.
Andrew Yang is a loving family man who wants a better future for his children (one of whom is autistic) and the rest of the youth. His love for his family shines through during his speeches when he says he misses his wife and kids. In one instance, after a woman asking about gun safety told how one of her children accidentally shot the other, Yang couldn’t help but cry, remembering his two children. He has a beautiful, intelligent, and supportive wife, Evelyn, who has left her job to take care of their two children. This love and dedication to his family I think is so genuine and expansive, that his supporters cannot help but feel that they are part of Yang’s extended family. Thus, the aforementioned passionate support.
Andrew Yang is cool and has a great sense of humor. He is literally cool — he is level-headed, and doesn’t get flustered in interviews and in debates, and sticks to the issue at hand. He skateboards, crowdsurfs, plays the piano, shoots hoops, has awesome dance moves, and was once a goth.
He is funny and has tons of fun. Even his fundraisings are fun. See him and his campaign manager Zach Graumann wear silly headwear during their Halloween fundraising. Because of this calm and positive disposition, he will be a president who can think and decide calmly when faced with momentous decisions and in times of crisis.
All of these traits make Andrew Yang an excellent leader. A military veteran (and bioengineer), Russel Toll, gave an excellent impromptu speech during #Yangapalooza rally in Iowa, comparing him to the best leaders he has known in the military.
For all these reasons, Andrew Yang inspires. Andrew Yang is a man with a vision, believes in that vision, and communicates that vision effectively. He has made not just millions of Americans believe in that vision, but the rest of world as well. The poor, the precariat, the workers, the middle class, the artists, the scientists, and the entrepreneurs, have seen that this man speaks the truth, and are now passing on that message with passion.
Personally speaking, Andrew Yang has helped show me the way. For a while now, I have been financially challenged, and am at a crossroads on how to go on about living life, whether I should prioritize earning a living (freelance writing), or pursuing my art (creative writing), or helping others especially my countrymen/women living in poverty and suffering injustice. Basic Income has shown me that pursuing all these choices is possible — that is, if we all take care of each other via a regular stipend, living a life of purpose and meaning will not be a hard choice.
Andrew Yang has also shown me that anything is possible if everyone of us just starts to act. Yang saw the future, and he did not like it. No one was willing to confront the challenges in Washington D.C., so he did what all true leaders do: take it on himself. He has also proven to me that one person’s action can lead others to take action as well. The life counsel “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” has never been more true in Yang’s case. He is living proof that one’s generosity of spirit can make others be generous as well, in spirit and in kind. Andrew Yang’s example has empowered and enabled me to make up my mind: I will dedicate my time, however long it takes, to making Basic Income — in the U.S., my country the Philippines, and the rest of the world — a reality.
If you enjoyed, learned something from, or were insipired by this article, kindly consider donating (if PayPal: paypal.me/filipinowriter), be one of my patrons at Patreon, or please contact me at email@example.com — your way of providing me a basic income — so that I may continue my advocacies and continue to research & write more such articles.