This morning, Andrew Yang woke up in his Hell’s Kitchen home as a political free spirit. Yesterday, he announced that he had changed his voting registration from ‘Democrat’ to ‘Independent’.
Yang’s home at the far end of W42nd Street has been the base for many twists and turns in a political career that saw him compete in a crowded Democratic presidential primary and lead polls for months in the Democratic New York City mayoral primary — before coming in fourth when the votes were counted.
Also today, Yang is launching his new book — Forward: Notes on the Future of Our Democracy — with a nationwide promotional tour. It starts at midday today at Barnes & Noble on 5th Avenue before heading to another 10 cities nationwide this month.
In a blog post on his site on Monday, Yang said he was becoming an Independent. “Breaking up with the Democratic Party feels like the right thing to do because I believe I can have a greater impact this way,” he wrote. Yang had become increasingly disillusioned by party politics. “I’ve seen politicians publicly eviscerate each other and then act collegial or friendly backstage a few minutes later. A lot of it is theatre,” he added.
He described his beginnings on the political circuit promoting the idea of Universal Basic Income as being seen as “the odd Asian candidate talking about giving everyone money.” Now he leads a “Yang Gang” of 1.8 million Twitter followers, 591k on Instagram, 339k on TikTok and 303k on Facebook.
Yang has made no comment on POLITICO’s report early last month that he plans to form a third party. He stressed in his blog post that “polarization is getting worse than ever”, saying that 83% of the country is very blue or very red.
Throughout his political life, Hell’s Kitchen has provided a backdrop to Yang’s campaigning. His run for president was launched from his mother’s apartment just off 9th Avenue, Rudy’s shuttered bar took a cameo role in his NYC Mayoral video campaign and he’s a regular at many local eateries. He even went on his first date with his wife, Evelyn, at Amy’s Bread.
Hell’s Kitchen finds a place in Yang’s new book too. He tells the story of how he took the steps to become a presidential candidate for 2020. The qualification is simple — be a natural-born US citizen, at least 35 years old and have been a resident for at least 14 years. His final step in becoming a declared candidate alongside Joe Biden, Sexy Vegan and Vermin Supreme was to open a bank account.
I went to my local Citibank branch in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan and opened up a checking account. The Citibank clerk didn’t think much of it. She asked, “What is this account for?”
“A political campaign,” I responded.
“What are you running for?”
She looked confused, because she didn’t want to seem rude. “Should I know who you are?”
“No.” I shrugged.
“Okay. Well, I wish you a lot of success.”
We now know who Andrew Yang is. We wish him success too.