Andrew Yang: a silent hero in the making
How an Entrepreneur from New York could end up being our generation’s answer to Dr. Martin Luther King
My first exposure to American politics was when I was only 10 years old. It was the year 2004, four years after my parents split and three years after the monumental tragedy that was 9/11. In an effort to both get closer to and be taken seriously by my father, I echoed his support of former President George W. Bush. My father is very much a product of the era of the late Ronald Regan and to most people of the baby boomer generation, Reagan was seen as a political Messiah.
I, of course, being only 10 years old knew next to nothing about politics. I didn’t even watch the news very much: everything I heard in relation to politics came from my father, my stepmom, and her children. Automatically, I equated Democrats with villains and Republicans with heroes. I remained steadily on the right for a couple years, supporting the late John McCain in the 2008 election that would later conclude in the favor of Barack Obama.
During Obama‘s first term I started to feel a shift from one side to the other. I started talking to more people when I moved from Philadelphia to Connecticut back in 2009. I eventually went from being a 14 year old conservative Christian puppet to being a 17 year old moderate liberal. I supported Obama’s bid for re-election in the 2012 election against Senator Mitt Romney as a sign of rebellion.
During the years of Obama’s first term, my relationship with my father turned sour due to his over insistence on me sharing his religious views. I, along with my brother, had church forced on me growing up. I never liked going and to this day, still don’t. I started to discover the cracks in religion when I was 15: “Jesus loves everyone, except gay people”, “Karma is a false belief”, etc. Also, certain people I associated with have equated Obama with Satan.
I wanted to think for and find myself (as most teenagers do) and I remember, outside of the local church, my father and I arguing one day. I was 17 and I wanted to go with one of my stepbrothers who was 18 at the time. He was insist that on me staying with the church, exclaiming, “I don’t want you to follow in his footsteps! I want you to follow in mine!”. I grew bitter and bitter as time went on.
Flash forward to 2016 when we would end up with the worst President this country has ever had, and I declared my support for Vermont’s senator, Bernie Sanders. I started learning more by this point in my life: understanding that the republicans never represented me. However, I was going the polar opposite of where I was 12 years prior. I was starting to think for the Democrats were heroes and that the Republicans were villains.
I thought that until June of 2016 when Bernie lost the democratic primary to Hillary Clinton. I never liked Hillary: she always came off as far to opportunistic, plastic, and extremely disingenuous. Heck, I still remembered the “Pokémon go to the polls” moment back then and how cringe inducing it truly was. I also felt like I was betrayed by the Democrats.
I, along with many others who supported Bernie, felt like my voice being blatantly disregarded.Shortly after the fallout that was the 2016 election, I abandoned politics. I was done because I learned the unfortunate truth: Neither party represents me. I remained cynical about the issue until a friend of mine, who supported Trump in 2016, told me about someone. That someone being none other than Andrew Yang.
I was told to look him up and despite my high amount of skepticism, I decided to give Andrew my attention. After all, why else would someone who supported Trump tell me about, let alone praise a Democrat? As I started watching YouTube videos on Andrew Yang and his policies, my first thought at his Universal Basic Income policy was simply “Well, everyone’s got a gimmick nowadays”.
Still, I kept giving him a chance. Three of his appearances stuck out to me like a sore thumb: His episode on Joe Rogan’s podcast, his appearance on Ben Shapiro’s Sunday Special, and his talk with Tucker Carlson. I noticed that even though his platform may have sounded like a gimmick, he had facts, statistics, and data to back it up. He was more committed to his UBI platform than than the other 2020 presidential candidates were to slinging vapid, derivative platitudes on a debate stage.
Another thing I have noticed is how he was willing to do something that I wished more leaders did: sit and talk with people he disagreed with and discuss in good faith. This country has been divided for quite some time now even before the 2016 election. The ongoing fire of our divided nation could be traced all the way back to when the GOP tried to make Sarah Palin happen back in 2008.
Andrew Yang was, in my eyes, trying to bring the country back together with a sense of diplomacy during is his presidential run.
While I tuned in late into his campaign, I was immediately sold on Andrew due to his policies focusing on dealing with people on the autism spectrum. Hearing how he wants to push early intervention and work to end the stigma against people like myself truly made me feel that for the first time since I have heard Bernie speak his policies in 2016, that someone running for office actually got me. Yang’s stance on this issue in a way actually helped me take a step into being more comfortable in my own skin. I was always afraid to disclose that part of me due fear of judgment or people being kind to me out of simple pity.
On that fateful day in February of 2020, Andrew Yang suspended his presidential campaign. I felt heartbroken that night and while there were others I supported that were still in (both Bernie Sanders & Tulsi Gabbard) I felt like this election was to be little more than a doomed repeat of 2016. It ended up being not just 2016 2: election boogaloo but, even worse when the COVID - 19 pandemic hit the us in March.
I grew more and more depressed especially in April when Bernie lost to President-Elect Biden. Beneath all of the businesses being ravaged and poverty spreading faster than the virus itself lied, a glimmer of hope. Andrew Yang and his organization, Humanity Forward found a new purpose, doing what Andrew set out to do as president: give money to the people.
A new fire ignited in Yang and his ever expanding group of supporters dubbed the “Yang Gang” by the Internet. The fight for cash relief started and more and more eyes opened. I remember when Andrew Yang gave his opening statement during one of the debates in regard to his platform. I also remember seeing Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, Senator Amy Klobuchar, & Mayor Pete Buttigeig all laugh at him. I remember hearing people say what I initially thought: It was a silly gimmick.
People laughed, people scoffed, and yet, here we are: losing our jobs to robots because they can’t catch the coronavirus, losing our faith in a bafflingly incompetent government, losing hours of sleep due to fear of eviction, losing our minds due to indefinite isolation. While many lost their lives due to COVID-19, the rate of suicide inflated like no tomorrow. In more ways than one, people’s lives were on the line.
I called my father back in June and had a civil conversation. Despite my many disagreements with the man, I felt that being civil was and still is best. We spoke about the horror that was this virus and the endless amounts of protests gone awry due to Trump adding wood into the fire with his idiotic comments on BLM. My father, a conservative, stated “It was only a couple months ago when everybody was laughing at Andrew Yang and now, looking at everything that has been happenening, it appears that they should have listened to him”.
I remember when I watched Yang’s videos on YouTube and saw comments that said “If Andrew Yang could unite a YouTube comments section, he could unite America”. I spoke to people I knew from various sides of the aisle and out of those people, 90% of them have spoken very fondly of Yang. Even if some of them didn’t agree with his platform, they would always praise his rationality, his willingness to talk across the aisle, and just his overall sense of civility. Andrew Yang taught me a few things when he ran: I learned that I have to be the change that I want to see in the world and most importantly, to be myself.
Yang has shown to be in this past year alone, what kind of person this country needs to heal the gaping wound that is the divide in this country. He has always demonstrated fairness, class, & humility. He does not seem like the kind of person who wants to have power and that is what makes him a perfect leader. Whatever Andrew decides to do: be it run again in 2024, run for mayor of New York City, or whatever it is, he has my full support. For those who have no idea who I am talking about, I highly recommend you to pull up YouTube and learn more about this man. It doesn’t matter where on the political spectrum you are on, I seriously recommend you all to learn more about this man. It’s not about being right or left, it’s about moving Forward.