When reflecting on my political journey over the past year, nothing surprises me more than a life-long conservative and avid supporter of Trump’s presidential bid, converting to Andrew Yang’s campaign. How can two political outsiders with vastly different policies, rhetoric, and visions for the country, be appealing to many of the same voters? To answer that question, we must analyze the narratives that both Yang and Trump represents.
In 2016, conservatives around the country were fed up with Washington and the media. Their communities were in shambles, their jobs disappearing, their family members comitting suicide and overdosing at record levels. These were real problems that still exist to this day, and no one was giving them the attention they deserved.
Whenever media pundits cried foul at Trump’s hardline stances on illegal immigration, citing it as a dog-whistle to the racist Republican party, this was no different a story than they had heard in 2012… and 2008… and so on. In short, voters were watching the party bend to media that would never appreciate them, so why listen to that media?
Trump’s rise was not built upon innovative policy prescriptions—and honestly, how much different is a wall from a “secure border fence”?—it was built upon the media’s inability to grapple with real problems. When Trump offered plans, the Democratic Party ran in the opposite direction and the media called those plans innately bigoted. It turns out, people will side with a vision, even a decrepit one, if it means a chance to throw eggs on the media pundits and two-faced politicians of the world.
And now Yang, the man peeling off 10% or more of previous Trump voters in a head-to-head election.
As I said before, I’m a life-long conservative… So, when I stumbled upon Joe Rogan’s podcast with Yang, it wasn’t the Freedom Dividend that threw me into the so-called “Yang Gang” at full force. It was one, simple tagline.
“I’m laser-focused on solving the problems that got Donald Trump elected.”
That tagline immediately sparked my interest. Yang wasn’t calling Trump the problem, nor his voters. He was calling the problems the problem. He spoke to the loss of jobs in a way I had never heard before. He wanted to give a floor to every single American. The more of his ideas I heard, the more I realized he was the candidate that could heal a broken nation. He sounded like a guy honestly trying to improve our lives.
He didn’t need a punching bag to rally his base of support. He didn’t need to blame one subset of Americans for the ills of another subset. Yang said in his closing remarks at the October debate that the fourth industrial revolution will cause problems that all Americans will face, regardless of political identity.
It felt great to see every talk show in America get the 2016 election so wrong, but it will feel even better to solve those unidentifiable problems in 2020.
Beau M., 19, Louisiana