Will Andrew Yang Be the Next Commerce Secretary? - OZY | A Modern Media Company

Will Andrew Yang Be the Next Commerce Secretary?

Will Andrew Yang Be the Next Commerce Secretary?

By Eugene S. Robinson


Because there's nothing at all funny about not having money.

By Eugene S. Robinson

Yang is reportedly under consideration to become President-elect Biden’s Secretary of Commerce. Here’s what he had to say this summer about joining the Biden administration.

After a presidential run that thrust the heretofore kooky idea of universal basic income into the mainstream, Andrew Yang could well wind up in the White House … working for Joe Biden.

“There’s a chance that I would take a job in the Biden administration,” the entrepreneur tells OZY co-founder and CEO Carlos Watson on the latest episode of The Carlos Watson Show. “Joe and I have actually been talking about a new position that doesn’t exist yet, but should, around technology and innovation. But those conversations have been very general. So, TBD, but we are talking.”

It’s heady stuff considering that Yang never heard from his parents, both immigrants from Taiwan, that he should aim for the highest office in the land. Instead, he quips, they’d say: “You’re terrible! Clean your room!”

Yang’s discovery of a reason to run — how messed up the U.S. economy had become — is well documented. So, that’s not nearly as surprising as the fact that the people with whom the message resonated most deeply — the so-called Yang Gang, full of piss, vinegar and righteous indignation about playing fields and how crappily uneven they are — are still around.

There’s really no way to fix this that does not involve rewriting the rules of our economy.

Andrew Yang

It’s either because the playing fields are still not doing much for the average American or because the hothouse 2020 political season, rife with race, pandemic and economic issues, won’t let them rest (or both). They’re still around. Not waiting around, which would make sense somewhat since Yang himself left the hurly-burly of the campaign back in February. But they’re engaged — heavily engaged.

“We’re having members of the Yang Gang, who were awesome activists and volunteers in my campaign, who are now running for Congress,” says Yang. “And after I did bow out, I went to thank supporters … and people were literally crying.”

Which is usual. But what’s less usual is where that energy went — not so much to other campaigns, or back to the private sector, but into what dragged Yang into the race in the first place: economics. That is to say those Yang Gangers not already running for Congress haven’t folded up their tents but have headed instead for Yang’s Humanity Forward organization, formed for the express purpose of giving direct economic relief to Americans.

Not dribbles and drabs but more than $6.5 million, amid the pandemic. This on top of supporting local candidates who are fellow travelers on Yang’s signature issue: universal basic income. And Yang Gangers not involved with all of the above are tilting at current members of Congress to adopt emergency cash relief, which, if you’re unemployed, is much more than essential.

“There’s really no way to fix this that does not involve rewriting the rules of our economy,” Yang says. “From really like the top down. Or the bottom up, depending upon your perspective.” A call to arms for the decamped gang of Yang if there ever was one — presidency or no.

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