Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang speaks during a rally in Washington Square Park on May 14 in New York City. (Drew Angerer / Getty Images)
Cleveland Charter High School

Opinion: Why #YangGang isn’t as crazy as it seems

Scrolling across the pages of Twitter, one may come across the hashtag known as “#YangGang,” a term used to encompass supporters of the Democratic Primary candidate known as Andrew Yang.

But, unlike other gangs, Yang Gang is not engaged in any illegal activity. Despite its lacking of illegal funds, the Yang Gang is a phenomenon unlike any other.

You may know Yang as the wacky Asian man proposing the novel policy to give Americans $1000 a month, but not much else. For many, Yang is a one-trick pony, completely defined by what is seen as an absurd, far-fetched idea.

However, one factor that differentiated Yang to me when he announced his run for the presidency, is him being the only Asian man I have seen in the primaries in my lifetime.

As an Asian American teenager, the representation and diversity that he brings alone means something to me. But, his candidacy is ingrained in far more than his identity.

One recent moment that differentiated Yang for me was at a gun safety event, where in response to a mother who lost her child to a stray bullet, he came down, hugged her and broke down in tears.

Whether one agrees with him or not, it was moving to see him cry because it showed his emotion and humanity. This was personally significant solely because while other candidates said they cared about us, he showed me through tears that he was human and actually did.

Further, despite an Economist poll stating that Andrew Yang is currently polling at 2%, a number far from the support needed to win the Democratic primaries, he is one of two Democratic candidates polling in double-digits among Trump voters.

But, in addition to his appeal to voters on the left and right, his grassroots campaign bolstered by progressive policies is an indicator of what me and many other future voters are starved of, a candidate that is actually an outsider and caring about the people.

His current figures are a product of many factors, some of which were the forces that gave rise to presidential candidacies of outsiders like Ross Perot and Donald Trump. Yang, unlike any other candidate is by far a choice of the people, rather than any large institutions.

Based on Federal Election Commission data, Yang is running a campaign fueled more by small donations than any other campaign, with his being 17% larger than the candidate in second place.

Much like his magnetism for small donors, his appeal to the youth can be explained through his use of memes and social media to accrue a substantial young following. But, more than a fad sweeping the nation’s youth, Yang Gang is product of the people and their disdain of backroom politics.

As a member of the high school community, I can tell you that so many of my peers support Yang, not because of our inexperience or lack of knowledge, but for the exact opposite reasons.

It is because of our experiences as American high school students that so many of us support him. We were old enough to remember the financial crisis that struck our country in 2008 and young enough to have the doom of global warming looming over our futures. Our distrust of institutions, fervor for activism and change, are what build the base for our support someone like Yang.

Although I am aware that some of us do support Yang because he promises to give everyone $1000 a month, his candidacy is a sign of change. His entire being screams “outsider” to us.

From him being an Asian American running in a race of predominantly white candidates, to his use contemporary trends, while also having zero experience in politics, makes him such an attractive candidate for a youth of America that lack trust in our government and institutions.