2016 was a rather odd year for me. I watched the rise of Donald Trump, while I was living abroad in Southern China. Deep down in my heart, I knew he was going to win and watching him climb the polls was torturous but undeniably mesmerizing. Flubs, gaffes, malicious attacks, racist remarks, anything he did that would result in another candidate’s demise, only made him stronger.
Despite all of his concomitant toxicity, some of my closest friends voted for him. During his campaign he scapegoated immigrants, mocked a disabled reporter, repeatedly proposed a Muslim ban, was involved in 3,500 lawsuits, and of course dismissing his profoundly problematic Access Hollywood tape as “locker-room banter.” Obviously this wasn’t just banter, but rather just him describing the way he sexually harassed and assaulted women. Despite all of this and plenty more awful and terrible things, he won.
Three years later and I’m married to a Georgia peach. I’m a manager at a bookstore. My wife and I live in a nice, little two-bedroom apartment in Canton, GA. Financially, times have been hard. I won’t receive a raise this year and our Medicaid application has been rejected twice. I’m failing to see how I’m benefiting from what’s supposedly one of the greatest economies America has ever had. Certainly, this has to be the Millennium’s first Gilded Age, where only a few of us are conspicuously consuming.
About 8 months ago, I was scouring the bookshelves for a scintillating read and I stumbled upon Rutger Bregman’s Utopia for Realists. An astoundingly profound read with such bold and ingenious thoughts, but one of the ideas that stuck out to me was Universal Basic Income. My intrigue gradually morphed into a borderline obsession.
Also, I failed to mention that both my wife and I are still going to college. I work full-time and go to school full-time and she works part-time and goes to school part-time. We had a modest Wedding reception and honeymoon and there have been many nights since we’ve been married where I just wanted to impulsively buy a plane ticket to some tropical place and leave our current life behind. I would watch her as she peacefully lied there, wishing I could give her more.
One of the nearly sleepless nights I came across Andrew Yang on the Breakfast Club, which is one of the best platforms for political discussion out there, and I finally found a candidate that not only did I like, but he represented so many of the ideals that I deeply care about. He talked about his Freedom Dividend that would give a $1000 monthly to any citizen over 18 who wanted it. He talked about Medicare for All, which would do away with deductibles and premiums and you can visit any doctor you want and not have to worry about losing your insurance under any circumstance. His campaign is the utmost pragmatic, while simultaneously being the utmost humane, which is exceedingly rare.
I imagined how my wife’s life will change under the Freedom Dividend. I imagine the ways I can show her my affection and my appreciation and how we can finally take the kind of vacation we’ve always wanted together without having to worry about our finances or our availability. We can adopt a dog from the shelter and we can finally take that step towards having a family. Thoughts like these provoke tears, but they also elicit a unique feeling of peace and comfort.
I binge-clean. Well rarely, but when I do, I take the whole day to do so. I found a paper from the last time I visited the doctor’s office. It was from February 26th, 2016. Working full-time and going to school full-time is a perverse juggling act. I can’t afford to get another full-time job because I won’t have enough time to go to school and I can’t get a part-time job because I won’t make enough to pay rent, but I’m also not progressing in any way so I’m losing my drive. So I’m uninsured along with my wife and I haven’t been to the doctor in three years.
Under Andrew Yang’s Medicare for All, I would be no longer insecure. Luckily, I don’t have a condition that warrants frequent visits to the doctor, but there are probably thousands of people my age that do, and I couldn’t imagine the stress and the anxiety that accompanies them when they have to worry about also paying rent and putting food on the table. Their condition isn’t their fault nor should it be treated as such.
As a hopelessly, empathetic person, there are definitely several good candidates on the democratic field, however no one is offering straight, no strings-attached cash. There are a great deal of people out there living check to check like I am and they are simply being worn out. I can’t imagine having more money put aside for an emergency or a vacation. I want to splurge and take my wife to a nice dinner in downtown Atlanta and not have to frantically check my mobile banking app in a sweat afterwards.
On a big-picture scale, no other campaign could unite such a divided nation. The most important aspect of this unifying is that the unifying is happening through a renewed sense of humanity. Communities will be gradually elevated out of poverty. Our prisons won’t be as bloated. The drug-addicted will be able to seek care without having to worry about incarceration, but rather will only have to worry about recovering and with the Freedom Dividend recidivism numbers will decrease because will be able to have some financial security once they step outside of the prison doors.
Andrew Yang proves through his campaign consisting of over 100 policies, that he is not only driven by problem-solving, but he’s driven by his love for America. He’s uniquely qualified for the office because of his vision. He is wildly competent in regards to every facet of the job. I’m voting for Andrew Yang because I don’t think any other candidate is up to the task in facing the climate crisis, job automation, the after-effects of a possible recession, opioid overdoses and other multi-faceted problems that will be facing our nation.