Three weeks after ending his presidential bid, Andrew Yang is starting a new group to cement his ideas about 21st-century work and technology firmly into the political “mainstream,” with an ambitious goal of advancing “a wave of new thinking in American politics,” his advisers said.
Yang started the organization, a political nonprofit called Humanity Forward, on Thursday.
The group will both support Democratic candidates who embody Yang’s vision, in the style of a more typical political group — such as Bernie Sanders’ Our Revolution or Pete Buttigieg’s Hitting Home — while also embracing more unconventional aims and methods.
Yang, according to plans laid out by his advisers earlier this week, will support “projects and pilots that demonstrate the power and practicality of our ideas in real life” through grants across spaces in tech and media. He will also host his own long-form podcast and a “Future of Work” conference in Washington, DC, to discuss his vision for a “human-centered economy.”
The 45-year-old entrepreneur got in the race early, in November 2017, and rose from a political nobody to a candidate who outlasted governors and senators. “It’s amazing to imagine a campaign that started with my Google contact list and now has over 400,000 donors and millions of Americans who support us,” Yang said in an interview on the night he ended his presidential campaign in New Hampshire.
During his two-plus years in the race, Yang popularized a message about individuals redefining their worth as more than economic metrics, building his campaign around a singular policy idea: a monthly payment to every American, known as universal basic income, or UBI.
Part of Humanity Forward’s work, advisers said, will be centered on making UBI a reality, partly through the “grants,” which he and his team are calling “‘Forward Thinking’ seed funding.” These could include pilot programs for universal basic income — something he tried in miniature during his presidential campaign.
Humanity Forward is also pledging to give $500,000 in universal basic income to residents in one town in New York state.
“It's still me. It's still what we do. It's still about proving that we're the best to solve our problems,” Yang said in an interview last week. “In some ways, it’s easier to do independent from the political cycle.”
Yang believes his campaign advanced a conversation about poverty and technology, and perhaps changed the way candidates can talk to voters in the 2020s. His plainspoken style on the campaign trail, professed affinity for many of the other candidates, and easy jokes made him popular among Democratic voters, from his many online supporters to his own rivals on the debate stage.
“When I speak at an event and some of my fellow candidates speak at an event, I feel like we’re sometimes speaking different languages. And the language that I speak is just English,” he said, laughing. “With some numbers thrown in, too.”
Yang’s success has also led to some speculation that he might run for office in New York, where he and his family live in Manhattan. Asked this week about a run for mayor in 2021, Yang said he is “looking at it.”
His new group, which would allow him to build on his political platform until another campaign, will be structured as a 501(c)(4) organization, meaning it can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money and is not obligated to disclose its donors.
Zach Graumann, Yang's former campaign manager, said they plan to disclose major donors voluntarily but had not landed on the details.
"In true AY style,” he said, “we’ll be really honest about everything.”