By Quentin Choy
June 23, 2021
Candidate for New York City mayor, Andrew Yang conceded in the Democratic primary after realizing that he is “not going to be the mayor of New York City based upon the numbers that have come in tonight.” For a while, Yang was the frontrunner in a crowded mayoral field to succeed Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Both Yang and de Blasio were contenders in the 2020 Democratic primary for the presidency, and Yang hung around and made it to the stages of major debates competing with well-known Democrats like Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and eventual party nominee and president, Joe Biden.
However, unlike the aforementioned Democrats, Yang was relatively unknown to most Americans, including those who were involved and well-versed in Democratic Party politics. Yang was a political outsider and businessman who focused on two issues that had not been discussed by mainstream candidates of either party at the national level: universal basic income and automation.
Yang introduced these ideas to the American people, and demonstrated why they were intertwined with one another in his book, The War on Normal People, in which he discussed how increased automation of jobs throughout society would lead to social unrest and vast inequality if the political system didn’t prepare for such a large shift in labor through a universal basic income, which would ease society’s transition.
Many including myself viewed Yang’s campaign as a breath of fresh air due to his outsider status and a campaign focused on ideas to improve people’s material lives rather than a pandering campaign focused on issues that matter little to everyday Americans. Although Asian-American, Yang’s presidential campaign hardly made race a center issue, and Yang became popular among economically-focused leftists, business centrists, and libertarians.
While Yang’s ideas of a universal basic income were excused by many established politicians and pundits, his ideas revealed their necessity and became mainstream following the COVID-19 pandemic and the loss of thousands of Americans’ jobs. Stimulus checks and the American Rescue Plan were laid out the framework of a universal basic income, and Yang’s once radical ideas became demonstrated as a success.
Although Yang didn’t win the presidency, his ideas lived on in Joe Biden’s implementation of the American Rescue Plan. Yang’s elevation of universal basic income at the national level laid the groundwork for Democrats’ winning strategy in Georgia, winning them two Senate seats and Senate control after the two Democratic candidates promised $2,000 checks to Georgians, a promise that was unfortunately broken.
In terms of the New York mayoral campaign, Yang’s issues and policy platforms were obviously far more localized in terms of New York City. Issues of crime, public safety, and policing were the center focus of the campaign for all the candidates.
The race was packed with several candidates:
- Eric Adams, former police captain and Brooklyn borough president.
- Maya Wiley, civil rights lawyer and counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio.
- Kathryn Garcia, former NYC sanitation commissioner.
- Scott Stringer, New York City comptroller.
- Dianne Morales, former CEO of nonprofit The Door.
The current frontrunner is Eric Adams, who is very much from the identitarian wing of the Democratic Party, weaponizing his race to put down dissent. In second place is Maya Wiley, daughter of civil rights activists. Wiley used to be a contributor on MSNBC.
No matter who becomes New York’s mayor, Andrew Yang had the most name recognition in the race, following his presidential run in 2020. Seeing the way that Yang’s future vision and policies became implemented following the COVID-19 pandemic, I hope that his ideas continue to be implemented across the country. I also hope to see outsider candidates like him rise to national prominence based on their ideas aimed at helping Americans. Even better, Yang was first taken seriously by Rising with Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti which is now Breaking Points, a show I highly advise you watch.
In the same way that Bernie Sanders’ primary defeats in 2016 and 2020 led to down-ballot progressive wins and people like Pramila Jayapal taking up the progressive mantle across the country, I hope that the same happens with Yang and his ideas. In local races and statewide races, I hope to see genuine outsider candidates with bold visions and solutions for the future to emerge and become mainstream.
While Yang lost the race for mayor, his ideas still remain, and he should rally everyday Americans to run for elections based on bold ideas like he did, forming a wide base of like-minded individuals in all levels of government.
Image Courtesy of NBC News.Follow WeTheCommoners Blog on WordPress.com