Democratic Candidate Brings Yang Gang to LA
Trump supporters stood shoulder to shoulder with hardline Socialists, united in their cheer for their new hero. “Yang Gang, Yang Gang, Yang Gang!” The mantra erupted from the mouths of hundreds of supporters who stood in Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles on Easter Sunday to listen to the keynote speaker of the night, Democratic Primary Candidate Andrew Yang.
Yang is a newer and lesser-known candidate in the 2020 race but has been slowly drawing support from both sides of the aisle. Although he is a Democrat, Yang’s platform aims to appeal not only to liberals and Democrats but to conservatives and Republicans as well.
The rally featured a series of speakers followed by Yang himself, who addressed the cheering crowd. “We automated away 4 million jobs in the swing states,” Yang said, a fact that he attributes as the main reason for Trump’s win in 2016.
Yang’s speech consistently tried to reach across party lines by calling out to both Democrats and Republicans in the audience and stating that he stood for the entire American people, not any one party.
But Yang’s proposal for a Universal Basic Income is perhaps his most notable policy proposal. Yang’s plan, “The Freedom Dividend,” would give U.S. citizens $1,000 every month, a plan that Yang claims would be supported by historical figures such as Thomas Paine and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Indeed, Paine proposed a similar ideal in a 1795 pamphlet and Dr. King argued for a universal basic income in his book “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?”
Yang’s speech ended with a hopeful call to action for the audience to bring more people into the fold and increase Yang’s polling numbers.
The atmosphere had the strange resemblance of a Trump rally mashed together with an Elon Musk press conference. Drones flew overhead while the speakers made inside jokes and flung curses at the rich and powerful.
Part of Yang’s popularity stems from internet culture. Jake Epstein, a student at El Camino College, said, “I’ve been following Andrew Yang since the memes started popping up and then it just kind of snowballed into me showing up here.”
Yang has been able to capture the power of the internet to galvanize supporters. Yet despite his connection to supporters, many like Epstein feel that he won’t win. "He has no chance whatsoever but you have to give support to someone who's actually trying," Epstein said.
Though some consider Yang’s chances as nonexistent, there were plenty of supporters who see him as the candidate they always wished for. Janet Young, a volunteer for Yang’s campaign, feels that he will beat Trump if he can win the Democratic primary. “[This is] the first time I’ve ever given or volunteered for a campaign, Young said. "I believe in him that much.”
Young was not alone in being new to political organizing. Several of the volunteers were working on a campaign for the first time and even the event coordinators had never contributed before.
Yang has his competition cut out for him. Beto O’Rourke visited Los Angeles last Saturday before a stop in Yosemite National Park to announce a massive Climate Change plan, and now that former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., has officially entered the already crowded race, newcomers like Yang face an uphill slog.
But even in the crowded race for the Democratic primaries, Yang has been able to get people from all walks of life, ideologies, and political opinions to come out and support him, an undeniably impressive feat for someone with no political experience.