#MyYangStory is a popular Twitter hashtag that aggregates the experiences of how Yang supporters decided to join the Yang Gang. We’re bringing these experiences to you. This issue’s story is by Anna Munsey-Kano, a teacher and former supporter of Hillary Clinton.
I am a progressive who believes in radical change. However, I am not one to oversimplify the truth or ignore present reality. I appreciate the nuance and complexity of our world issues. As an artist, activist, and educator of young children, my highest values are self-awareness, kindness, curiosity, personal growth, and efficiency. So of course, my support of Andrew Yang was inevitable, though it did surprise me.
In 2016, I was just finishing up my BA in Women’s Studies at a small liberal arts college in Georgia. After studying systemic inequality and intersectional oppression at a women’s college, I was extremely ready for a Hillary Clinton presidency.
Back then, I viewed the presidency as a mostly symbolic—even ornamental position. In my short lifetime, I’d never seen a President achieve anything that impacted my life. As a young millennial, I came of age in the George W. Bush era of regime-change wars and Patriot Act propaganda. I was raised to be embarrassed by the president’s words and spelling mistakes. I was proud when we elected the first African American man to govern in the White House. I loved how well-spoken he was, how inspiring he was, and the progress he represented. It never occurred to me that a president could actually change the material reality of people’s lives in one or even two terms. I just assumed incremental progress meant you couldn’t necessarily see it happening.
When I first reached voting age, what mattered most to me in a presidential candidate was the way he or she would represent America on the international stage. I supported Hillary Clinton because she represented the type of diverse meritocracy I wanted to believe our country was becoming. She was the very picture of progress, poise, and strength that I wanted the world to see when they looked to America. I wanted a President who understood complex issues and could appreciate the nuance of the problems we faced. For those reasons, I was passionate about Hillary and fought hard for her to win.
Trump’s victory in 2016 devastated me. I was shocked, confused, and depressed to learn that most of our country was not on the progressive path I wanted to follow. It seemed to me that hate had triumphed over empathy, ignorance over reason, misogyny over respect, and tribalism over unity. It terrified me and broke my heart. Rather than stay angry, I retreated from national politics. When this new election cycle began, I had no desire or expectation to fight passionately for anyone. I was simply looking for the most “electable” candidate with the most tolerable ideas and proposals.
It wasn’t until discovering Andrew Yang that my idealistic heart started truly beating once again. I remember sitting on my parents’ couch watching CNN’s Climate Crisis Town Hall with Andrew Yang back in August, my jaw on the floor. After the June debate, I had felt cautious, amused, and only casually curious about the long-shot, Asian American candidate offering $1000 a month, but here was a personable man speaking intelligently and coherently about climate change. No matter the question, he kept putting forth practical, thorough, sweeping solutions with urgency and optimism. He answered every question directly in a poised, relaxed, even humorous manner. He spoke with detail, clarity, and nuance, injecting the harsh reality of our situation into every answer without losing sight of our potential to turn it around. I was impressed and intrigued.
Further research on his policies continued to astonish me. Long-form interviews on YouTube inspired me and cemented by belief in this man’s integrity, intelligence, and accurate diagnosis of our country’s problems and needs. My shock, anger, and confusion about Trump’s election dissipated as I came to understand what had really happened to cause such a political anomaly. I realized that my assumptions about incremental progress were wrong. Establishment politics would never win again until things radically changed. It wasn’t long after that I joined Twitter and began to actively promote Yang’s platform.
Why do I support Yang so fiercely? Sure, part of it is because of what he represents. Electing the first Asian American president after one term of Trump would send a powerful message of self-awareness and progress to the world at home and abroad. Yang is also well-spoken and inspiring, understands complex issues and appreciates nuance. But that’s not even half of why I love him. He has pushed my standards and expectations to a whole new level.
Andrew Yang has taken a long, hard look at the many problems our country faces, from establishment-recognized ones like climate change and healthcare, to previously unrecognized ones like massive job displacement, a mental health crisis, growing technological advances, and outdated economic measurements. Without ideological bias or political influence, he has come up with either radical solutions or practical starting points for every single issue we face.
He has no desire for personal glory or even a political career. He just wants to solve problems for the American people as directly and efficiently as possible. His record reflects this, he has told us this, and my intuition tells me it’s true. This is a person I respect and trust completely.
But man, his policy choices are exquisite. His plan for a Universal Basic Income and his plan to replace outdated measurements like GDP with the American Scorecard are utterly brilliant and attack the source of so many problems in one fell swoop. I love that. Being called radical is often so scary to people nowadays. As Paris Marx wrote on Medium last year, “radicalism, especially in a social context, is associated with extreme views and the desire for rapid change.” Change scares people. But as he also rightly notes in the same article, the actual definition of a radical is someone who “attempt[s] to understand the root of the social problem—to cultivate an approach that goes beyond what can be easily observed on the surface.” Andrew Yang is a true radical: He has learned that lack of cash in the hands of Americans and the failure to measure what matters to people are at the root of so many social and economic problems.
He is the only candidate who truly understands the way technology is changing our lives and how we must adapt our institutions to make progress and innovation a social good instead of an existential threat. He has the most realistic and comprehensive plan to fight global climate change. He has common sense plans to evolve our education system and gun regulations. The list goes on and on.
If that weren’t enough, his campaign strategy, policy platforms, and compassionate rhetoric make him our best shot of defeating Donald Trump in the general election. He’s the only Democratic candidate who doesn’t judge or condescend to Trump supporters. He makes an effort to understand where everyone is coming from and what they need so he can represent the whole country’s interests instead of just half. I am not conservative and have never voted Republican, but even I have come to understand why so many people voted for Trump. I can actually empathize with them! I love Andrew for helping me open my heart and mind to those I had become exhausted from hating and fearing.
As a country, we need someone to unite us, empower us, trust us, and lift us out of scarcity. As Yang says, we need a new way forward and we need to get moving very quickly. Andrew Yang is the best person to do that, so I support him.
Anna Munsey-Kano, 26, New Hampshire