Is Andrew Yang a Liberal Trump?

Why this New Yorker isn’t joining the Yang Gang

Saul Austerlitz

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Photo by Matteo Modica on Unsplash

He seems like a nice enough guy, and he added a welcome dose of levity and entrepreneurial vigor to a lengthy slog of a campaign, so it gives me no pleasure to make this observation, but it might just be that Andrew Yang is the Donald Trump of the New York City mayoral race.

In making this observation, I would like you to think, not of Trump’s disastrous presidential term, but of his campaign for the presidency in 2016. Among the overwhelming array of candidates for the Republican nomination in the race to succeed Barack Obama, there were no shortage of dull technocrats (Jeb Bush), religious ideologues (Bobby Jindal), ornery libertarians (Rand Paul), small-government zealots (Ted Cruz), and empty suits with expensive hairdos and a robotic array of pre-approved one-liners (Marco Rubio, how you doing?). Amidst this array of unappetizing entrees, Donald Trump appeared, to a small but crucial bloc of Republican voters capable of overlooking his appeals to racism, sexism, and white nationalism, like dessert. To them, Trump seemed fun, a breath of fresh air, willing to speak directly and bluntly to voters in a fashion that the Republican consultant class would never let their candidates speak.

New Yorkers are also hungry for something new. Our current mayor, Bill de Blasio, has some substantial accomplishments over his two terms in office, including universal pre-kindergarten. But too much of the time, de Blasio comes off as a cold fish more intent on blaming Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his limitations than doing his job, a failed kingmaker who had been intent on using the mayoralty as a stepping-stone to bigger and better things and never recovered after he fell short. New York is a funny city, and one of the primary responsibilities of being its mayor, perhaps invisible until de Blasio so patently refused, is to appear to enjoy being responsible for the Greatest City in the World™. Andrew Yang will make an excellent cheerleader.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Now, the reasons that Donald Trump was, shall we say, ill-suited to the presidency are too many to enumerate, and Andrew Yang is…

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Saul Austerlitz

Author of Generation Friends: An Inside Look at the Show That Defined a Television Era +4 more. Work published in the NY Times and many others. Teacher at NYU.