by Diane Pagen
Andrew Yang’s campaign for the presidency, built on a platform of Humanity First principles, ignited a political fire in people still burning today. Andrew had the ability to talk about complex ideas and systems in terms that people could understand without feeling like they were being talked down to. People began to think deeply about politics and the economy and to imagine what large-scale, systemic change might look like and what it could do for them. He invited people to envision a world in which our systems finally would put humans at the center instead of markets and corporations. And millions of people for the first time felt a hope for their own future and a desire to stop watching from the sidelines and fight for the change we need.
But with Andrew no longer a presidential candidate, how do people who support Andrew’s vision continue to work for the changes that his campaign inspired?
One of the clearest and most simple answers is to support the Congressional candidates who are running on platforms of universal basic income and other Humanity First policies. It was clear that even if Andrew became President (or becomes in a future moment!), he would need a majority in Congress to get behind universal basic income in order to get national legislation passed. So the work before us is to help the many candidates running on UBI in races across the country to get elected. Though you may only be able to vote for a candidate running in your district or state, every time you take action to support a candidate running on a UBI platform, you are moving the country towards the goal of a national universal basic income. All candidates are national candidates: their success paves the way for the passage of Andrew Yang’s policies at the federal level.
By treating each of these candidates like the national candidates that they are, we can continue the passion and energy ignited by the Yang campaign. 2020 is still our chance to shock the political establishment; to show them that a candidate running on a platform of UBI can be elected to federal office. If even one candidate wins this election cycle, it sends a clear message about the legitimacy of Andrew’s Humanity First vision. To find proof of this, look no further than AOC’s election to Congress — she ran promising to implement the ideas first brought to the national spotlight by Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential run, and those who supported Sander’s platform voted AOC in. In an earlier blog, Income Movement talks about the importance of finding and supporting the basic income movement’s AOC in the 2020 and 2022 election cycles. The basic income community should be focused right now on showing up and making our presence known. One of the main ways for us to do that is to support UBI candidates running for Congress.
So how do we support Congressional UBI candidates? The same way we supported Andrew: with donations of money and volunteer time. Promoting their campaigns and ideas on social media with homemade videos, memes and coordinated hashtag campaigns. Writing letters to the editor of our local newspapers, telling others why we support specific candidates. Displaying lawn signs — whether or not we have a lawn. Finding those in our families and communities who live in districts where a UBI candidate is running and talking with them about the importance of voting in the primaries or general election.
Logistically, it can be difficult to support all Congressional UBI candidates because there are so many running. This is an exciting problem to have. However, we must be realists in understanding that our personal resources are finite and thus, focus and concentration is important. This is why the endorsements of candidates by Humanity Forward and Income Movement can be helpful: these organizations have done some of the work, evaluating candidates and their campaigns to identify those who have the strongest chance of succeeding in 2020 and whose platforms reflect a Humanity First outlook. If you aren’t sure which candidates to support with your time and effort, these endorsements can guide you.
Of course, if you are lucky enough to have a UBI candidate running in your district or state, you can bypass endorsement guidance — you already have your answer of where to concentrate your support. There is nothing more exciting and powerful than getting intimately involved in your local political scene and helping shape the conversation in your community. People want to have effective representation at the federal level; and most community members are dissatisfied with the representation they have now. We have a powerful proposal — the chance to help elect a representative who will finally represent their economic interests with UBI and other Humanity First policies. You can build support within your own community for this unique kind of candidate.
In 2020, let’s recognize that the federal UBI candidates currently running have the ability to become politicians of national prominence. Each one will positively influence the basic income movement in new and important ways, just as Andrew Yang did. Andrew Yang brought his vision into the national political discourse, and with it he accelerated the progress of our existing movement for a national UBI by years, if not decades. Now it’s our responsibility to support those candidates who took up the call and make sure as many as possible get elected in 2020.
Diane Pagen has been a leader in the basic income community for more than a decade. She has been coordinator of Basic Income NYC since 2016. She provided advice, support and an extra pair of hands to Andrew Yang and the team in the early days of his campaign. Diane is co-founder of the annual Basic Income March and grassroots liaison at Income Movement. She is also a social worker.