The leading voice for the $1,000 a month freedom dividend, Andrew Yang has announced he is "breaking up with the Democratic Party" and changing his voter registration to independent.
The move comes after running a costly 2020 Democrat presidential primary, stumping for President Joe Biden, and then being jilted in a Democrat mayoral primary in New York City earlier this year.
"I have at this point dozens of friends and confidantes who are entrenched in the Democratic Party," the proponent of Universal Basic Income (UBI) wrote in his blog, announcing his independence. "I've been a Democrat my entire adult life.
"And yet, I'm confident that no longer being a Democrat is the right thing."
Yang, who sought to cultivate a populist movement he called the Yang Gang, will still be a supporter of issues important to Democrats, including UBI, open primaries, and ranked-choice voting, the latter two of which are popular voting protocols in blue states.
"My goal is to do as much as I can to advance our society," Yang wrote. "There are phenomenal public servants doing great work every day – but our system is stuck. It is stuck in part because polarization is getting worse than ever. Many of the people I know are doing all of the good they can – but their impact is constrained. Now that I'm not a member of one party or another, I feel like I can be even more honest about both the system and the people in it.
"The key reform that is necessary to help unlock our system is a combination of open primaries and ranked choice voting, which will give voters more genuine choice and our system more dynamism. It will also prevent the spoiler effect that so many Democrats are concerned about, which is a byproduct of a two party system with a binary contest and simple plurality voting.
"I believe I can reach people who are outside the system more effectively. I feel more . . . independent."
Yang did call out the ideological aspects of the Democratic Party, which he says does not jibe with him seeing himself as "practical" and seeing partisan arguments as "uncomfortable" to him.
Also, he said, politics can be fake "theatre."
"I've seen politicians publicly eviscerate each other and then act collegial or friendly backstage a few minutes later," he wrote. "A lot of it is theatre.
"I've also had people publicly attack me and then text or call me privately to make sure that we were still cool. It just had to be done for appearances.
"Perhaps it's the nature of my upbringing, but I'm actually more comfortable trying to fix the system than being a part of it."
Yang concluded he plans to use his new independence, not to push for public office, but affect real change.
"Recently, in an interview I commented that I wasn't particularly driven by a desire to hold office," he wrote. "I'm working for impact.
"Breaking up with the Democratic Party feels like the right thing to do because I believe I can have a greater impact this way."
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