After an unsuccessful 2020 presidential campaign, entrepreneur Andrew Yang has set his sights on becoming mayor of New York City. And while the mayoral field is a crowded one, Yang has gained undeniable popularity, for better or worse, in part due to a slew of questionable, at best, tweets. But in the wake of the last disastrous four years overshadowed by a president who was able to ride his outrageous tweets all the way to the White House, Yang’s tweets aren’t just comically foolish: They’re dangerous.
Sure, making fun of the clearly out-of-touch millionaire can be a source of reprieve after a year of police brutality protests and COVID-related lockdowns. On Jan. 15, Yang professed his admiration for New York City bodegas, tweeting, “New York City loves its bodegas! The 14,000 bodegas are vital to our city - let’s support them and keep them open.” The problem? The tweet was accompanied by a video of Yang walking through a store akin to a Whole Foods or Walgreens rather than a neighborhood bodega. On Feb. 13, in a full-on Michael-Scott-proudly-labeling-nationwide-chain-Sbarro-his-favorite-NYC-pizza-place move, Yang tweeted, “Does Shake Shack still count as an NY restaurant? My boys say yes.” And on March 1, Yang tweeted a picture of himself taking the A train to the Bronx. The problem? The A line doesn’t go to the Bronx.
Then, of course, there was his now-infamous tweet on #NationalPetsDay. In a move that would only make sense to somebody who tweets about his wife on National Wife Appreciation Day (yes, it’s a thing), Yang tweeted, “On #NationalPetsDay celebrating our dog Grizzly who we raised as a puppy but had to give away because one of our boys became allergic to him. Miss you Grizz! #dogsforyang.” The tweet immediately sparked backlash regarding the morality of rehoming a pet.
But the real problem with Yang potentially becoming the next mayor of New York City is not his questionable social media presence, but some of his actual policies — and how easy it has been to overlook his problematic stances in favor of a good, old-fashioned public roasting.
For example, in February 2020, when Yang was still a candidate for president, he called abortion a tragedy and said, “I think we have to get back to the point where no one is suggesting that we be celebrating an abortion at any point in the pregnancy” during a presidential forum hosted by reproductive rights organizations. This came at a time when the right to abortion is under direct attack, and a historic number of states are introducing legislation that would ban the procedure outright. And, it came at a time when one out of every four women will have an abortion in their lifetime, as well as many trans men and nonbinary people.
Yang is also arguably the most anti-teacher union mayoral candidate, at one point blaming teacher unions — which have fought to make sure teachers stayed safe during the pandemic — for the slow re-introduction of in-person school during COVID-19. Studies have shown that children are key to the spread of COVID-19, and, as of April 6, 919 teachers have died from complications related to coronavirus.
On top of this, Yang has advocated for increased policing of New York City street vendors, the majority of whom are women of color, military veterans, and low-income immigrant workers. “You know what I hear over and over again - that NYC is not enforcing rules against unlicensed street vendors. I’m for increasing licenses but we would do more for the retailers who are paying rent and trying to survive,” Yang tweeted on April 11. “I’d like to bring more unlicensed vendors into the legal market. Education for immigrant/non English speaking vendors on rules of vending, opening more spaces for legal outdoor vending working with small businesses to broker tensions all would help.”
The nation faces a long-awaited reckoning on police brutality against Black and brown people, studies have shown increased police presence doesn’t lead to less crime, and street vendors have already been forced to endure decades of police harassment — so, to put it mildly, this is not a good idea.
Yang would be an awful New York City mayor not just because of his terrible tweets, his lack of expertise as a politician, or his inability to understand New Yorkers who have spent the last year in lockdown as a result of the pandemic. (“We live in a two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan,” Yang told The New York Times in 2020. “And so, like, can you imagine trying to have two kids in virtual school in a two-bedroom apartment, and then trying to work yourself?” He later moved his family from the city to a four-bedroom second house in New Paltz, NY.)
He would chiefly be awful because of his abortion-shaming, anti-union, pro-policing ideologies that are in no way in keeping with the future of the Democratic Party nor the needs of the vast majority of Americans. The fact that he is seemingly using his incendiary tweets to avoid necessary scrutiny is just another red flag — and a terrifying reminder of another self-serving entrepreneur-turned-politician who used social media to ascend to power.