Andrew Yang is out of the race. The Silicon Valley entrepreneur, who’d run for president on a platform of giving every American a $1,000-per-month, no-strings-attached benefit payment, withdrew from the Democratic presidential primary before official New Hampshire results were even announced.
“Endings are hard, New Hampshire,” the candidate told supporters on Tuesday night. “But this is not an ending. This is a beginning. This is just the starting line. This campaign has awakened something fundamental in this country and ourselves.”
He’s right. It would be easy to attribute the unlikely success of the Yang campaign — even in his last week of campaigning, the non-billionaire political neophyte was still earning a consistent 4 percent in national polls — to the candidate’s easy accessibility to journalists, or his charming shamelessness when it came to internet-friendly gimmicks, or even to the goofy, improbable charisma he developed on the campaign trail. But the Yang campaign wasn’t a sideshow, a stunt, or a vanity project. Even though Yang’s quasi-libertarian platform, orthogonal as it was to traditional Democratic politics, was unlikely to assemble a coalition broad enough to secure the nomination, it still activated a group of devoted supporters — the YangGang — whose insistent, zealous advocacy for their candidate and his signature proposal revealed a strain of politics with a significant and passionate constituency, one that’s unlikely to evaporate in the sudden absence of its figurehead. The Yang campaign may be over. But Yangism is here to stay.
The best way to understand Yangism might be as a strain of post-libertarianism — one of a handful of descendent, related ideologies now emerging from the wreckage of American libertarianism in the Trump era. Over the last decade, split apart by the response to the global financial crisis and the rise of Donald Trump, the broad libertarianism once regularly touted as insurgent in electoral politics has more or less collapsed. Some supposed libertarians have simply become (or revealed themselves as) Trumpists, or out-and-out white nationalists; others have taken up the project of reconstructing a kind of left-wing libertarianism they call “liberaltarian”; still others, calling themselves “state-capacity libertarians,” now advocate for greater government intervention in and support of markets. (Don’t even get me started on the ones calling themselves “classical liberals.”)