Andrew Yang Ran a Historic Campaign
If a man decides to run for president and nobody knows who he is, does he really have a presidential campaign? Andrew Yang said “yes.” The previously unknown businessman dropped out of the Democratic primary after a disappointing showing in New Hampshire on Tuesday, but his campaign may have changed history.
Yang’s candidacy was probably never intended to be serious and he probably just wanted the stage to talk about his signature issue: universal basic income in an age of technological transformation. But overtime his campaign gained steam and he made debate stage after debate stage. He made it to New Hampshire when many big name senators and governors did not.
He gained a small cult-like following — “The Yang Gang” — but he fell victim to “Twitter isn’t real life.” While he had a strong social media game, he struggled on the big stage with the cameras. But he opened the door to no-names who can combine the social media world with the real world to mount serious runs for the White House in the future.
He may have run the best no-name campaign in history. Non-military political novices have run before, but had more name recognition. Everyone knew who Trump was in 2016. Carly Fiorina had been well known at Hewlett-Packard and had previously run for Senate. The closest case would be Herman Cain in the 2012 Republican Primary, but Cain did not even make it to Iowa.
Yang’s success came in that he had an idea — it was a rather terrible idea, but it was still an idea — and ideas resonate with voters more than “the incumbent stinks.” This is something that career politicians and consultants who fear rocking the boat with “unelectable” candidates, often fail to grasp.
On that point, Yang realized that history did not begin when Trump became president. Like any good Democrat, he is a member of the loyal opposition, but he understood that the nation’s problems did not begin with the current president. That’s one reason Trump, who focused on the country (“Make America Great Again”), won and Hillary Clinton, who focused on Trump and herself (“I’m with her”), didn’t and why Trump supporters should be careful what they wish for when it comes to a Bernie Sanders nomination.
If he was the only vanity candidate in a much smaller field, he might have had a shot. But in an age of discontent and anger at the establishment, he provided future outsiders a blueprint: have an issue, expand from there, and focus on the big picture.
Part of his appeal was that he seemed like a normal guy. Even many conservatives could say they liked him and would have a beer with him. Sure he was a crazy liberal, but he was the lovable crazy liberal. He did not appear to hate those who disagree, he was self-deprecating, and how many other Democratic presidential candidates would ever consider appearing for an hour to answer questions from Ben Shapiro?
Who knows what the future holds for Andrew Yang, but because of him, we may see more no-names run for president and one day, one of them just may win.