We are just over two years into the Trump presidency and a lot has already been accomplished. From new Supreme Court justices to moves toward peace with North Korea, Trump has done more than many people expected. However, for a small, dedicated cabal of Trump’s “core supporters,” it has not been enough. Due to lack of progress on the wall, troops still being stationed in Syria, billions of dollars still going to other countries in foreign aid, and much more, this cabal have turned their attention toward Democratic presidential hopeful, Andrew Yang. Yang is far from capturing the public zeitgeist, but this early shift in support could spell trouble for Trump if he does not work hard to win back the hearts of his base.
Andrew Yang is like Trump in many ways: he is a multimillionaire, he is a political outsider, he seeks to change what issues are being focused on, and he is far and away the underdog of all the present candidates. However, these are not the only reasons why Yang appeals to the same people who voted for Trump; at the core of Yang’s platform is the bold idea of giving $1,000 per month to all American adults over the age of 18. While the economics can be endlessly debated, Yang certainly makes a compelling case for his “Universal Basic Income.” Yang’s website says that UBI would not only cut down on the bureaucracy of the present welfare system but would do a better job of encouraging people to find work as UBI is guaranteed no matter what. The most compelling argument in favor of UBI is the looming threat of automation in the form of self-driving cars, improved factory equipment, and increasingly more intelligent computer AI, which all threaten to eliminate low-level jobs and disrupt the economy on a massive scale. In an interview with Tucker Carlson, both Yang and Carlson lamented the fact that no candidates are talking about automation, let along proposing any solutions.
The bubbling support for Yang amongst Trump supporters primarily stems from a defeatist, accelerationist world view. A cursory glance at the “YangGang” hashtag on Twitter reveals thousands of tweets along the lines of, “America is done for, we might as well secure this bag.” The bag being the $1,000 a month proposed by Yang. They feel Trump has not done enough, and if mass immigration and never-ending Middle Eastern conflicts are going to be a fact of life, they might as well get a thousand dollars out of it. However, that’s not all they support Yang for. Other reasons include paid family leave to encourage people to have children, his support for nuclear energy, an “American Mall Act” to find uses for an increasing number of closed malls, and legislation that could make social media platforms into “public utilities” in a move that would really hurt big-tech. At times, Yang even sounds like someone on the right-wing, addressing problems primarily affecting the white community like the opioid epidemic or speaking against identity politics. At his core, Yang is still a Democrat, but there is a lot to like even if you consider yourself more Republican.
The support for Yang amongst Trump’s base does not appear to be dying down any soon, despite the fact many in the “Yang Gang” are using their support as a bargaining chip so Trump refocuses attention on what they want. The Yang2020 campaign is gaining steam, with PredictIt placing his odds of winning behind only O’Rourke, Harris, Sanders, and Biden. While “President Yang” is still a long shot, it’s certainly not impossible; and with over 80,000 donors, he has a lot of hardcore supporters ready to campaign for him.