New York Fucking City, New York
Spring has thankfully arrived in the city of New York. And along with the blooming leaves and flowers along with an influx of (weaker) vaccines about to come to town while public spaces and streets are still barren public during this stubborn pandemic, the Democrat primary race for mayor to rid this town of de Blasio will truly commence until it’s final destination on the second day of summer. But one candidate has already taken over your city’s poltical zeitgeist, and according to corporate local news, that candidate is Andrew Yang.
It wasn’t that hard for Yang to conquer all the attention, he already ran for president of the United States and his unlimited basic income proposal from that campaign actually influenced national policy with the last three congressional budgets with checks of $1,200, $600 and most recently $1,400* given to every citizen during this pandemic (although incrementally, since Yang’s UBI was supposed to be for a check every month and the 1,400 payout was means tested and limited to an earned income cap, not to mention that Biden promised 2 grand and lied). And now with the celebrity and name recognition, jumping into New York City’s Democrat primary mayor’s race was an easy transition since the competition is pretty stale across the board with career city bureaucrats like current office holders Brooklyn BP Eric Adams and Comptroller Scott Stringer, Ex Sanitation Chief Kathryn Garcia, Big banker Ray McGuire and two ethically challenged candidates lawyer Maya Wiley and prodigal son bureaucrat Shaun Donavan. After Wang’s announcement on the Coney Island boardwalk, the first poll immediately put Wang at a commanding lead over his opponents at the time.
But after that auspicious start, reality and even logic has crept up to Yang in only a few months, revealing himself more as a dilletante huckster than the political outsider he’s being portrayed as.
As with his presidential campaign, there is nothing much or distinguishable from the other candidates about Yang’s mayoral platform to run this city except for his Basic Income proposal, which he marked down from a grand a month nationally to a one time payment for the city’s check to check working class. There is a lot to like about it because it does target residents who needs this money the most, even if it can barely pay the rent and utility bills but might be just enough to play lottery scratch tickets. The big hairy but to this is how as mayor is Yang going to come up with the city funding for this and his answer was quite startling but expectantly and obviously vague.
last week, Yang was talking to reporters about the movie he planned to see on the first day that New York City theaters reopened since the pandemic shut them down. He also fielded questions about he’d fund his basic income plan and gave an admittedly “vague” response, suggesting it’s still unclear if he’d rely primarily on existing city funds, hit up private investors, rely on a rollback of state tax breaks — or a combination of all three.
First, he said that even in its “diminished” state, the city has the “level of resources to commit to this, in part because it’s going to save us a lot of money on things like homelessness services and shelters that are very, very costly.”
“Keeping people in more secure and stable environments will actually, in large part, pay for itself,” he said.
But Yang did not say where in the ailing city budget he intends to draw the $1 billion it will take to pay for the plan.
He then added that he’s been in talks with “several New York-based philanthropists who are very excited about this program and so hopefully we’ll have some private sources of funding as well.”
When asked to name who those potential financial backers are, he replied: “Of course I’m not going to tell you right now after I just gave you, like, you know, like, this vague, like, several private sources because, you know, we have to have things to announce for later.”
At least Yang’s fumbling and his campaign manager’s pathetic sop defense of the candidate’s ambitious program has a scintilla of honesty even if for the past 2 months they didn’t even have a solid budgetary plan to justify it, considering how it’s the main driver of the candidate’s platform.
His career bureaucratic competitors smelled the blood in the water and pounced on it. Eric Adams, BP of Brooklyn and who has been persistently polling second; “You can’t call it a plan if you don’t explain who would benefit and how you would pay for it. New Yorkers are struggling right now — they need serious action, not empty promises.”. Comptroller Scott Stringer’s spox response was delish; “Andrew Yang has a plan written on the back of a napkin that would be pure comedy if the times weren’t so serious.”
Although you got to feel a tinge of sympathy for Yang for being so flummoxed about how to fund New York’s UBI for the working poor and low income families, because it’s 180 degrees removed from how he was going to fund the monthly UBI “freedom dividend” that he proposed during his presidential campaign run, because under President Yang that UBI was going to extract funding from national social safety net programs for the poor like housing vouchers, food stamps and social security and the monthly stipend was based on a prospective rise in unemployment caused by automation’s usurpation of industrial, retail and restaurant jobs. It also should be worth a mention that Yang’s UBI has solidarity support from every tech billionaire who would benefit from a society solely dependent on a meager dividend every month like how they have massively benefiting from a world wide pandemic for the past year. Yang is not just selling a benefit plan to voters, he’s buying them as well.
This has exposed a major vulnerability in Candidate Yang, for he was easily caught off guard when he was queried about something substantive after being on the receiving end of a glut of flattering profiles from the local news blogs while spending the majority of his time on Twitter to the delight of his adoring Yang Gang followers, a horde that has been relentlessly battling naysayers (like yours truly) doubting his qualifications and capability to run New York City with absolutely no prior civic experience whatsoever. Not even with the basic civic duty of voting in an election his entire adult life living here.
But to run NYC you got to be quick and have a settled plan and it’s utterly disturbing that he has nothing behind his basic income program that he’s been touting for months since yelled “Can You Dig It” in Coney Island at the start of 2021 (even though the gangbanger Cyrus who said that, yelled that line in a park in the Bronx before he got assassinated). Now instead of a policy to help the most vulnerable populace, it now comes off as a bribe to win their votes.
Another flawed thing about Yang’s basic income proposal that he’s not sure how he’s going to fund is his plan to build a People’s Bank in City Hall. Yet again it sounds like a good idea, tying it to the NYC ID the city put out a few years ago to help working poor people and undocumented immigrants get access to municipal and commercial services requiring identification and using the NYC ID as an ATM card to access it. But if “Mayor” Yang still is unable to fund it, then who will. In a way, this resembles the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York PAC that’s already available in the Mayor’s Office and de Blasio’s redundant and corrupted Campaign For One New York 501c4 PAC he ran to fund Pre-K and “affordable housing”. If the funding isn’t enough to keep Basic Income and the People’s Bank running, will it rely on money from “philanthropists” that do business with the city and yearn to get more of them?
Yang’s Basic Income and his hypebeast social media fueled campaign has all the elements and mannerisms of pushing a startup company or an app, and like those ventures, it’s all hype and show and no substance and all risk; Citizen Yang’s ventures belie his status and bonafides to run a city as an entrepreneur. Starting with his last one when he started a fellowship non-profit to inspire other entrepreneurs and college graduates to invest and work in smaller cities and after 3 years it only produced 4,000 jobs. Normally a disaster like this would make you reevaluate your decision making abilities and recognize limitations, but Yang would follow this up with running for the highest office in America.
Yang has transferred his own quixotic run for president into his current quest for mayor, but fortunately for him the competition for the role of hizzoner (or herzzoner) is a lot easier as they poll in the signal digits with only him and Adams polling in the doubles. Although Yang via his startup strategy had to buoyed his top rank by citing a poll made up by his consultants before he even announced his candidacy. Despite how unethical it was, that little issue went ignored and he was able to gain momentum as later polls continued to favor him with bigger leads, even though he’s running neck in neck with voters polled who are not sure or undecided who they want to vote for.
Another thing that has buoyed the Yang campaign, is his Yang Gang following on social media running protection for him as he was making startling gaffes and displaying general cluelessness about city life and issues, like his notorious visit to a “genuine bodega” and his defense of staying at his second home in upstate New York because he was agitated to work remotely as CNN pundit while watching his two sons in his two bedroom apartment in The Heights, which must have been thrilling to families that had no other housing option like Candidate Yang had and lived in smaller apartments or even a homeless hotel room.
Corporate news media interest is also enamored with Yang, notably Washington DC based website The Hill, which captured Yang giddily greeting people on a line stretching about a mile on the sidewalks of Flushing waiting to get food as he gave elbow bumps while Assemblyman Ron Kim vividly described the food insecurity that has exacerbated during the pandemic in what is practically an integrated news segment/campaign ad. Although it was quite noticeable how the people were used as props.
Yang’s campaign and narrative strategy also includes avoiding the mayoral debates, which is easy to do because of the existing distancing guidelines and the Zoom platform, when he was absent for was an essential debate centering on the homeless crisis. Although he did have an excuse for bailing on a Zoom debate because he contracted COVID, he still had the strength to appear on a Zoom fundraiser for his campaign.
While Yang is being portrayed and portraying himself as an outsider in the primary, his pandering to the Orthodox Jewish vote by condemning the BDS movement against Isreal’s government’s apartheid treatment of Palestine and the West Bank shows his willingness to pander like any run of the mill establishment politician; this may be the most New York thing he’s actually done so far with his cognizance of a key demographic and the reach of powerful lobbies, shown most recently when an aide of Queens Borough President Donovan Richards had to resign (aka fired) after only 3 days when he got appointed for only tweeting his support of BDS.
Last but not least, Candidate Yang last few public engagement attempts have come off obviously contrived going by his appearances with fellow candidates Maya Wiley and Kathyrn Garcia (twice) to establish an RCV prospect to his and their bases and an awareness rally to address the anti-Asian violence from a recent shooting massacre in Atlanta (where White women also got killed). But his naivete of city and state politics hit a nadir during a recent debate on his desire (and frankly everyone’s) on getting NYC Transit out of New York State Control and back under the purview of the NYC Mayor by asking a mindlessly picayune question about “who do you complain to?” as if the MTA is some disembodied omniscient entity and not under the grip of a despotic megalomaniac elected official for the past 10 years.
This is exactly the type of unadulterated ignorance a person exhibits when he never voted in NYC elections his entire adult life as well as national ones also. And another thing to kill this outsider myth that’s been manufactured about Yang is that he’s scared to call Cuomo on his scandals, especially his sexual harassment and assault accusations. Candidate Yang knows Cuomo isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and will have to deal with him, and even through his pink washed virtue signal tweet, he’s already folded to the governor.
This why Andrew Yang’s mayoral campaign is all hype and no substance and is barely thriving on a foundation of cult of personality worshipping hypebeasts on social media and this has manifested in the most recent polls too. Yang went from a commanding lead in the last two polls hovering around 30% and nosedived to 17% in a recent poll that relied on phone tallying, putting him barely above Eric Adams at 13% and way behind Not Sure/Undecided at 50%, making candidates polling in the single digits actual contenders again thanks to the ranked choice voting system. This probably came as a shock to the Yang and the Yanggangbangers who realize that astroturfing is a lot harder to spread on a landline than on the internet.
It’s really not hard to fathom Yang’s current plight as just another bland candidate in the fight the city hall. To think only a few months ago he could seemingly walk up to a crowd in say Union Square and flip the bird and grab his junk towards them and would strut away in slow motion still with a commanding lead. But he’s not in total peril because it’s clear as day that half the legal voting age citizens of NYC have absolutely zero confidence in everyone on the Democrat primary ballot.
It’s not hard to see how this has regressed for Yang as the weather gets warmer and the election near. And it also confirms how tainted those initial polls favored Yang; because they relied on online tallying, and not every constituent in the five boroughs has a social media account. Or they do but don’t have the time or interest to Stan anyone, especially during a stubborn pandemic and an economy in purgatory. Another thing this city doesn’t need is a mayor who wont be accountable and transparent and Yang doesn’t show much hope for a return to those values by inducing non-disclosure agreements on his campaign staffers.
And the last thing New York City need is some dilettante entrepreneur who suddenly decided he can run city government after being disconnected from it for so long and show up with hollow polices (or continue established incremental policies) cloaked with wondrous optimism. Because NYC already has gone through 7.4 years of that with de Blasio.
That’s why Yang is where he’s at now. Like the Blaz, all he knows how to do is tweet. He’s all platitudes, nice words and neat ideas but no sense and no functional plan to save New York City.
That’s Candidate Yang.