I Have Switched from Bernie to Yang
I was a huge Bernie supporter in 2016. Bernie is probably the guy I have to credit with renewing my hope in politics and the Democratic Party. He was the only candidate talking about the right issues during that election and — although he didn’t win — managed to make them front and center of the debate, such that they have an actual chance of being realized as we enter the next decade. When he declared earlier this year, I was ready to hop back on with him.
Andrew Yang had been on my radar for about a year by then. To his credit, he started early, talking about the one big idea that had been missed in 2016: Universal Basic Income (UBI). I first heard him talk in Sam Harris’s podcast and was impressed. I kept an eye on him since that moment.
As more candidates began to announce, I heard Yang discuss his ideas in more depth. I myself am a candidate for political office, the North Carolina state House, and as I began talking with my voters about the issues, I began to realize that a lot of the information and issues I was highlighting had more in common with what Yang is saying than what Bernie is saying.
I also began to notice that, for all of Bernie’s popularity across the aisle, this is more true of Yang. A big part of why I liked Bernie in 2016 was not only where he stood on the issues but the kind of movement he was leading. The progressive movement needs to be taken to the next level, and the challenge of the day is not getting voters to think more about working-class issues (we have already accomplished that). We need to get voters to think about how corrosive partisan divisions have become to the Republic. Yang is someone who is able to keep the focus on the working class while also breaking the binary framing of politics. He is able to speak about a unifying feature for everyone, and he does this more effectively than Bernie.
As I began to talk to Yang supporters, I began to see that they were not unlike me. They were major Bernie supporters in 2016. They loved and still love the friendly, caring Senator from Vermont. Yang, as they explained, was going the extra mile in reimagining the American economy. He urged us to understand capitalism is a mechanism of incentives, one that can be tweaked to maximize the best parts of that system and to minimize its worst elements. That kind of clarity of thought is harder to find among Bernie’s own discussions on economic matters. Both are honest men. Both are men that care about the average person more than most other politicians. One just has a sharper idea of what is going on, and that matters.
Whether he realizes it or not, Bernie Sanders has handed the torch of progressivism to Andrew Yang. That is why I will be supporting the latter. For the first time in a long time, I can say that this choice is not about the lesser of two evils but the greater of two goods. You had better believe it is a choice I am happy to make.