Andrew Yang is running as a Democrat to be the next New York City (NYC) mayor. In February of 2018, Yang, a former entrepreneur, announced his run for the 2020 presidential candidacy. Although his bid did not land him in the oval office, over his run, he amassed a large social media presence and popularized the idea of universal basic income (UBI).
There are plenty of things that occurred in his presidential campaign that legitimized Yang’s transition from business to politics. As previously mentioned, he became widely known for his plan to give every American $1,000 a month instead of some relying on welfare. He explains in his book, “The War on Normal People,” that many Americans will soon lose their jobs to the automation industry and that just by giving them this cash every month, depression rates will go down, more people will want to be entrepreneurs, and every citizen will be able to afford basic necessities among other things.
Yang acknowledges that his UBI could exceed $2.8 trillion. He plans on paying for it by charging a 10% value-added tax (VAT) on large companies such as Amazon and Google. Although he argues that taxing big companies will not harm them because Americans will have more money to spend on their products, others argue that his tax will make life more difficult for low-income citizens and that the VAT would not be able to cover the great cost of the UBI.
Either way, Yang’s campaign re-introduced the idea of a UBI to the American public and many teenagers were thrilled about the fact that when they turned 18, they would get $1,000 a month for virtually doing nothing.
Some of his opposition believes that he is promoting laziness and that people will opt not to work because they will be getting their monthly check from the federal government anyway. Yang rebutted this by explaining that it is very difficult to live on just $1,000 a month and that most Americans will continue to work. The money is supposed to act as a supplement.
Yang also went from an unknown candidate to participating in multiple Democratic primary debates, much to the help of his “Yang Gang.” According to the New York Times, his followers were mostly young and male. However, his policies and concept of “not left, not right, but forward,” drew in Americans from all over the political spectrum. His loyal fans, partially since they were relatively young, made memes about him and blew the Yang Gang up on Twitter and Reddit.
Now that the 2020 presidential election is over and President Joe Biden has long been in office, Yang, now politically involved, wanted to find a way to put his policies to use. In January of 2021, he announced that he was running to be the next mayor of NYC, to succeed current mayor Bill de Blasio.
Although the Democratic primary is not until June, Yang is already polling way ahead of the other Democrats. According to a survey conducted by Data For Progress, he is leading his opponents in every demographic including women, men, Hispanic, Asian, and white voters. The survey also showed that 26% of voters are supporting Yang.
Part of the reason he has been so popular in this race is because of his plan to bring NYC “back.” His usage of this word is a little ambiguous. It is unknown whether he means restoring NYC to the state it was in before the COVID-19 pandemic or something else. However, multiple policies of his do center around COVID-19 relief. He explains on his website that he plans on making NYC a better place to live during the age of the pandemic and after it. “It means reopening schools and helping our children catch up and deal with the mental health toll that the past year has taken on them,” said Yang. He also wants to implement cash relief by creating an almost UBI that mirrored that of his presidency.
His “Basic Income for New York” would “start with providing those who are living in extreme poverty with an average of $2,000 per year. This program can then be grown over time as it receives more funding from public and philanthropic organizations, with the vision of eventually ending poverty in New York City altogether.”
Yang is also very concerned about climate change, and because of this, many of his policies center around combating it. He plans on fully electrifying NYC’s vehicles by 2035. This was originally scheduled to occur by 2040, however, Yang believes it best to move this deadline up five years.
In addition, he also wants to paint the streets with brighter colors. According to Phys.org, “The reason for white is simple: white reflects the sun’s rays more than black does. If the 100 largest cities in the world replaced their asphalt-based roads with concrete or other light-colored material, it could offset 44 metric gigatons (billion tons) of greenhouse gases.”
The Democratic primaries for mayor are not until late June of 2021 and the election in early November of 2021. Although there are still months to go until the next NYC mayor is elected, it will be interesting to see if the City will choose him and to see his policies put into play.