Andrew Yang said Monday that he has left the Democratic Party and is now officially an Independent.
The technology entrepreneur, who launched a longshot bid for the Democratic presidential nomination and later ran unsuccessfully for New York City mayor, published a blog post on Monday saying he is “breaking up” with the Democratic Party.
“I changed my voting registration from ‘Democrat’ to ‘Independent’ today. It was a strangely emotional experience,” Yang wrote.
Despite a lifetime of being a Democrat and voting Democrat as well as still having many friends deeply involved in the party, Yang said, “I’m confident that no longer being a Democrat is the right thing.”
“So why do I feel in my heart that this is the right move?” Yang said. “While it was simply a small piece of paperwork, I genuinely felt a shift in my mindset as soon as I signed it.”
Yang cited the country’s increasing “polarization” as one of his reasons for distancing himself from the party, saying he is “more comfortable trying to fix the system than being a part of it.”
“My goal is to do as much as I can to advance our society. 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,” Yang wrote. “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.”
Yang said that he originally registered as a Democrat in 1995 when he was 20 to vote for Bill Clinton’s re-election and remained a “staunch Democrat” throughout his 20s.
“It was a no-brainer for me. I went to a college that was very liberal. I lived in New York City. Everyone around me was a Democrat.”
“When Trump won, I was surprised and took it as a red flag and call to action. Having spent six years working in the Midwest and the South I believed I had some insight as to what had driven Trump’s victory. I spent several years making the case for what I believed was the major policy that could address it – Universal Basic Income,” Yang wrote.
Yang’s “Freedom Dividend,” a universal basic income (UBI) of $1,000 a month to every U.S. adult, was the policy that catapulted him into the public eye during the 2020 Democratic primaries.
Yang suspended his presidential campaign in February last year after the New Hampshire primary and joined CNN as a political commentator. Earlier this year, he ran in the Democratic primary for New York City mayor, leading the polls in the race’s early days but conceding after early results showed him trailing Eric Adams.
Yang said Monday that he sees open primaries and ranked-choice voting as “key reforms” to allowing voters more choice in elections.
He added that on a “personal level” he feels he and the Democratic Party have always been “something of an odd fit,” describing himself as more “practical” than “ideological.”
“Making partisan arguments – particularly expressing what I often see as performative sentiment – is sometimes uncomfortable for me. I often think, ‘Okay, what can we actually do to solve the problem?’ I’m pretty sure there are others who feel the same way I do,” Yang wrote.
“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,” Yang warned.
“I believe I can reach people who are outside the system more effectively. I feel more . . . independent,” Yang wrote.