From MAGA to #YangGang

The Democrat dark horse and universal basic income advocate is finding support among former pro-Trump memesters.

While the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s chances of facing President Donald Trump in the general election are still slim, the betting lines have the tech millionaire and political newcomer ahead of Kirsten Gillibrand and just behind Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, and Elizabeth Warren.

What happened? First, Yang appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience. Other candidates might covet appearances on The View or profiles in Vanity Fair but the kickboxer cum stand-up comedian cum actor cum UFC commentator cum cheerful DMT evangelist’s podcast rivals the reach of talk shows and dwarfs that of magazines. After Yang’s appearance, interest in his campaign picked up.

Many of those who energetically created pro-Trump memes in 2016 have since turned on their man. He has not built the wall, he is too attached to Israel, and it was more fun to support a rebel candidate than it has been to defend a sitting president. Depressed by the thought that even their supposedly radical outsider has become, in most substantive terms, a generic Republican, they have become more explicitly anti-political.

One of Yang’s proposals to avert these trends is a “Freedom Dividend”—or what is more commonly referred to as Universal Basic Income—of a guaranteed $1,000 a month to every American. This policy proposal is what has truly excited the phenomenon known as the “Yang Gang.” If America is destined to decline, they’ve concluded in a fit of cynical exuberance, they might as well at least get some money out of it. Some of them are a little more calculated, seeing the potential to take their thousand a month and spend more time on creative and social endeavors with less of a need to work. But most enjoy it as a funny, irreverent meme, raising a middle finger to the political establishment.

Yang’s face soon began to blossom across Twitter: new, warm, innocent, and, yes, generous.

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