Andrew Yang wants to guarantee every American a basic income of $1,000 a month.
Yang, the "humanity first" candidate, wants to guarantee every American a basic income of $1,000 a month. Nanette Konig / Courtesy Andrew Yang Campaign

Yesterday, the long-shot Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang came in first in our easily-manipulated Slog poll—which is not that big an achievement.

Sponsored
Register now: Free home buying seminars at Verity Credit Union on March 28 and April 18!

Maybe there was a concerted effort to place Yang at the top of the Democratic heap in our little poll, and maybe it traces back to him or his supporters. If so, well, Donald Trump was allegedly behind the gaming of certain online polls back in 2015 and look where he is now.

Or maybe Yang's big win in our Slog poll is a totally organic manifestation of the true excitement he's already generating among Stranger readers. Either way: Who is this guy?

Yang calls himself a "human-centered capitalist." The modestly wealthy tech entrepreneur sees a rapidly approaching future in which automation takes the jobs of truck drivers, retail workers, fast-food employees, "and on and on through the economy."

But he's particularly concerned about the widely predicted collapse of the job we call trucker.

When a million of those blue-collar American men—and they are overwhelmingly men—are suddenly out of work because self-driving trucks, delivery drones, and who knows what else have replaced them, Yang predicts riots at a minimum and, perhaps, social collapse not long afterward as the growing unemployed masses who've been replaced by machines swell to historic numbers.

“We have five to 10 years before truckers lose their jobs,” Yang told The New York Times, “and all hell breaks loose.”

(If you think all hell is already breaking loose under Trump, Yang likes to note that many of the swing states won by Trump in 2016 had something in common: large numbers of people who'd already lost their manufacturing jobs to automation.)

Enter Yang's "Freedom Dividend," which, as he's recently explained to Joe Rogan and the Freakanomics podcast, is just another term for a Universal Basic Income.

Yang wants every American to earn $1,000 a month, whether they're currently unemployed or currently living off vast inherited wealth, so that no one complains about government handout unfairness, no one falls into poverty, and along the way maybe we avoid the apocalyptic scenarios Yang sees playing out once that unemployed trucker domino falls.

Also, he's into Medicare for All and told The New York Times that on social issues, “I believe what you probably think I believe.”

Even with his left-pleasing ideas and promises, Yang seems highly unlikely to beat out Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, or any of the other major Democratic contenders.

But if his aim is to lodge Universal Basic Income more firmly in the national political discussion, and maybe stave off social collapse as a result, he's already making some progress.

If you can believe the results of one Slog poll.