On Thursday, he announced that he’s launching an activist organization called Humanity Forward, which will attempt to build on the momentum and internet enthusiasm for the Yang campaign to lobby for “a human-centered America”. According to a press release from Humanity Forward, it will focus on initiatives to increase political engagement, change campaign finance, raise awareness of universal basic income, and protect consumer’s rights to control their data.
One of the most attention-getting aspects of Yang’s campaign was his promise to give every American $1,000 a month if elected, which he spun off into an offer to give $1,000 a month for one year to a random Twitter follower and a debate-night announcement that he’d give away $1,000 a month for one year to 10 randomly selected American families. Humanity Forward will be using a similar formula: One person who donates $10 to Humanity Forward will be randomly selected to receive $1,000/month for one year, and additionally, the nonprofit says it will donate $500,000 toward a UBI trial in an unnamed city in New York.
While Yang never did particularly well in national polls, and showed poorly in Iowa and in New Hampshire, his determined advocacy for UBI did a lot to bring a compelling concept into the mainstream. The core idea of a US universal basic income is that it would be offered to every American, without rules about who qualifies. Supporters say it could end poverty, help address technological unemployment, and boost health, happiness and social trust. It has been endorsed by people ranging from Martin Luther King Jr. to Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg to libertarian economist Milton Friedman.
The idea has been catching on — there have been trials around the world, including large-scale ones in Kenya, Iran, and Alaska — and Yang did a lot to push it further into the American mainstream. Now that he’s out of the race, he says he’s tried to convince the remaining Democratic candidates to push for a UBI themselves.
The website for Move Humanity Forward clearly has a target audience — young people embittered by our political system.
“We need to present a vision that young people can see themselves in and get excited about,” Yang told Politico. “We have to speak to them in their own language, in their own environments. We think we can reach people in really fun and funny ways that will make politics seem exciting and relevant to them.”
“It will take all of us working together to bring the wave crashing down on Washington and rewrite the rules of our economy and society to work for us,” the site reads.
And, of course, there will be a podcast. “We have a number of people that have already agreed to come on,” Yang told Yahoo News. “I don’t think we’re going to lead with, like, a superfamous celebrity because that’s not really the goal of the podcast, So we’ll probably have someone who is deep into the future of work or technology or artificial intelligence.”
Lots of candidates have successfully used a presidential run to catapult themselves to national prominence. The nature of Yang’s campaign — which struggled with broad appeal but inspired a sizable and dedicated base of online supporters — may have set him up particularly well on that front. Humanity Forward will apparently be funded in significant part by public donations, though some big donors have committed the initial upfront money for the launch. (Humanity Forward is easily confused with a Yang super PAC with the same name at humanityfwd.org, but the two entities are distinct.)
Is Humanity Forward just a vehicle for Yang to run for elected office again? “I wouldn’t say it precludes me from a political run, but I’m very focused on this org, and I believe that this is the next stage of the movement,” he said.
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