I first met former presidential candidate Andrew Yang in July 2018 and interviewed him in August 2018 (which was published in September 2018). I recently had a chance to interview him again a few weeks ago (though I have seen him and followed him closely since first meeting him). Most recently, Yang ran for Mayor of New York City, but did not make it through the primary. But since Yang left the presidential race, he started writing his third book, which is officially released today, Forward: Notes on the Future of Our Democracy:
which I had a chance to read an early copy. In the interview above, I sat down with Yang to catch up and learn more about his book and the Forward Party when he was in the San Francisco Bay Area for the Asian American Forward Leadership Summit 2021 as well as Basic Income March in Mountain View.
The book ‘Forward’ is divided into three different sections: an accounting what happened on the presidential campaign trail, then examining the institutional failures in the U.S. (such as the CDC’s initial failure to Covid-19, wealth disparity, the decline of local journalism, political gridlock, etc.) and finally ideas as to how to address them through structural change.
Having followed Yang closely, there wasn’t anything too surprising that I learned from his presidential campaign bid, but as someone who is interested in political races and politics, I still found it interesting. His descriptions of overall American dysfuntion wasn’t entirely a surprise either, though interesting to learn more facts and background as to some of the issues. His solutions are not new either, but what is new the vehicle as to how Yang wants to deliver them in a new “political party” – I put political party in quotes for now, since this is more of a political movement through the establishment of a Poltical Action Committee (PAC) and SuperPAC. To actually start a new third party, there are many hoops to go through with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
In his book, Yang concludes about the Forward Party with its basic tenants:
“If you want to solve these problems, welcome to the Forward Party. The Forward Party has six key principles:
- Ranked-Choice Voting and Open Primaries
- Fact-Based Governance
- Human-Centered Capitalism
- Effective and Modern Government
- Universal Basic Income
- Grace and Tolerance
I hope you consider joining this movement. And here’s the great thing: if you subscribe to these principles and ideas, you can consider yourself part of the Forward Party while keeping your current party affiliation. There will be Forward Democrats and progressives, Forward Republicans and conservatives, Forward independents and unaligned, and so on. This movement is inclusive; it’s about giving our democracy and government a real chance to function in a way that benefits us.
There are approximately forty-nine million registered Democrats and forty four million registered Republicans in the United States. I’d estimate that if we get to twenty million Forward Party members, we will transform American politics. More than a million Americans supported my campaign and are on my mailing list. My social media following is more than three million across platforms. Independents currently outnumber Republicans or Democrats in surveys. And Democrats and Republicans who are frustrated with our current politics can join while keeping their current party affiliation.
This is the real fix we’ve been waiting for an unclogging of the pipes. If you’d like to join the Forward Party, go to ForwardParty.com. The first major initiative will be getting ranked-choice voting in states around the country. Anyone who wants a more dynamic and truly representative democracy will be for it, so it should be all of us. …”
If you’ve been a Yang supporter or have been interested in his ideas, I highly recommend the book. The Forward Party itself isn’t truly a party yet in the traditional sense, and it seems like Yang is developing the Party to be inclusive to support the tenants he’s outlined. In the short-to-medium term though, this may cause some of Yang’s Democratic supporters to leave the Democratic Party, like Yang has just announced.
Yesterday Yang tweeted that he is leaving the Democratic Party:
Why I’m leaving the Democratic Party https://t.co/nrStxjrLfF
— Andrew Yang (@AndrewYang) October 4, 2021
which makes sense if your long term goal is to establish a new third party:
“In an essay on his website, Mr. Yang, who built a passionate following in 2019 during the party’s primary race, highlighted his work for Democrats. He noted the deep relationships he had developed with activists and local leaders and the fund-raisers he had headlined, and he took credit for helping to elect the party’s candidates, including President Biden.
Yet he described the two-party system as “stuck,” saying he could be more “honest” about politics and politicians if he were not constrained by official membership as a Democrat. Mr. Yang offered his support for alternative election systems, like open primaries and ranked-choice voting, saying these were “key reforms” that would give voters more choices in campaigns.
“I believe I can reach people who are outside the system more effectively,” he wrote. “I feel more … independent.””
Yang is actually not encouraging registered voters to change their political affiliation though:
“Please, keep in mind that I am NOT suggesting that you also change your voter registration to Independent, as I have done. Doing so could disenfranchise you if you live in the 83% of the country that is very blue or very red. For this reason, I considered either not making this change or not talking about it.
So why do I feel in my heart that this is the right move?”
While it was simply a small piece of paperwork, I genuinely felt a shift in my mindset as soon as I signed it.
I’m not sure if this will address concerns of the Democratic Party establishment, but it makes sense what Yang is doing considering he really wants to address the duopoly of the two party system in the United States and look for a moderate practical middle as an alternative. As Yang has stated in his recent interviews and in his book, the United States is actually an anomaly when it comes to a duopoly in our democratic system and that there is no mention of political parties in our Constitution, In fact, our Founding Fathers were against political parties, and they would be in shock at the partisan gridlock that has been eating away at our democracy the past few decades.
If you want to meet and engage with Yang in the near future, he will be on a book tour to discuss his book and the Forward Party in the next few weeks in the following cities: NYC, DC, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, San Francisco, Irvine, Des Moines.