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更新时间:2019/3/22 22:16:34 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

In Andrew Yang, the Internet Finds a Meme-Worthy Candidate

If you visit the online betting market PredictIt, you’ll see a long list of 2020 Democratic candidates, ranked in order of their odds of winning the party’s nomination for president, according to the site’s users.


Joe Biden, the former vice president, and Senator Bernie Sanders top the list. Then come other well-known Democrats: Senator Kamala Harris, former Representative Beto O’Rourke, Andrew Yang, Senator Elizabeth Warren.

前副总统乔·拜登(Joe Biden)和参议员伯尼·桑德斯(Bernie Sanders)位居榜首。然后是其他知名的民主党人:参议员卡玛拉·哈里斯(Kamala Harris)、前众议员贝托·欧洛克(Beto O’Rourke)、安德鲁·杨(Andrew Yang)、参议员伊丽莎白·沃伦(Elizabeth Warren)。

Wait, hang on a minute. Andrew Yang?


This is not an algorithm glitch, it turns out. Mr. Yang, 44, an entrepreneur and a political neophyte running on the idea that the United States should provide a universal basic income, is popping up in unexpected places in the Democratic contest.


He has catapulted out of obscurity thanks in part to a devoted internet following known as the “Yang Gang.” His fans have plastered Mr. Yang into memes and produced songs and music videos about his candidacy. They have also created a hashtaggable slogan — #securethebag — out of his signature campaign proposal to give $12,000 a year in no-strings-attached cash to every American adult, as a cushion against the mass unemployment he believes is coming thanks to artificial intelligence and automation.


By conventional standards, Mr. Yang remains a fringe candidate. In national polls, his support among Democrats has registered between 0 and 1 percent. But his viral popularity on social media feels reminiscent of the “meme army” that helped lift President Trump to victory in 2016. WikiLeaks, itself a part of the internet’s political underbelly, recently took note of Mr. Yang’s online momentum, and asked, “Did Trump just lose the 2020 meme war?”


“It’s very … interesting becoming the internet candidate,” Mr. Yang said last week in an interview while he was on his way to a rally in San Francisco. “I’m getting support from quarters I wouldn’t have expected.”


A lot has changed for Mr. Yang since I profiled him a year ago. At the time, he was best known as a businessman who had sold his test-prep company to Kaplan before starting Venture for America, a nonprofit entrepreneurship organization for college graduates. He was entering the race with little name recognition, a nonexistent war chest and a quirky platform centered on his claim of an impending robot apocalypse.

自从一年前我写了一篇介绍他的文章以来,杨安泽的情况已发生了很大变化。那时,他最为人知的身份是生意人,他把自己的备考公司卖给了卡普兰(Kaplan)之后,创办了面向大学毕业生的非营利创业组织“为美国创业”(Venture for America)。他宣布参加竞选时,几乎没人知道他是谁,也没有竞选专款,却有一个古怪的竞选政纲,其核心是他宣称的即将到来的机器人末日。

To ease the pain, he proposed what he called the “Freedom Dividend,” a $1,000-a-month basic income that would be paid to every American adult, regardless of income or employment status.


In lieu of cable news appearances and huge rallies, Mr. Yang took his fledgling campaign on the podcast circuit. He appeared with Ezra Klein of Vox and Sam Harris, the author and host of the popular “Making Sense” podcast. Last month, he was interviewed for two hours by Joe Rogan, a stand-up comedian and mixed martial arts commentator whose podcast reaches an audience of many millions of people.

杨安泽没有在有线电视上露面,也没有举行大型集会,而是在播客圈子里开始了自己初出茅庐的竞选活动。他与新闻网站Vox的艾兹拉·克莱因(Ezra Klein),以及流行播客Making Sense的主持人、作者萨姆·哈里斯(Sam Harris)同台登场。上个月,他接受了乔·罗根(Joe Rogan)长达两个小时的采访,罗根是单人喜剧演员兼综合格斗评论员,他的播客拥有数百万听众。

After he appeared on Mr. Rogan’s show, his campaign experienced an influx of support, and it quickly reached the 65,000 individual donations required by the Democratic National Committee for inclusion in the first televised debates. Since the interview aired, he has raised more than $1 million.

杨安泽上了罗根的节目后,他的竞选活动收到大量捐款,个体捐款者的数量很快达到了6.5万人,满足了民主党全国委员会(Democratic National Committee)对候选人参加首次电视辩论的要求。自那个采访播出以来,他已筹集到了100多万美元。

“I kept waiting for things to subside,” he told me. “And then it never did.”


Other candidates have become internet phenomena before. In 2016, Mr. Sanders’s campaign first took off on sites like Reddit and Facebook among young progressives who set out to make him internet-famous. (One such group, Bernie Sanders’ Dank Meme Stash, still has more than 400,000 members.) And Mr. Trump, who benefited from a surge among young, internet-savvy supporters early in his campaign, has been attentive to the internet’s rightmost fringes.

其他候选人以前也有过成为网络现象的历史。2016年,桑德斯的竞选活动最初是在Reddit和Facebook等网站上的年轻进步人士中流行起来的,这些人让他在互联网上出了名。(其中一个叫“伯尼·桑德斯的夸张米姆仓”[Bernie Sanders’ Dank Meme Stash]的群目前仍有40多万名成员。)特朗普在竞选活动之初,也曾得益于在精通互联网的年轻支持者中人气急升,他后来一直留心互联网上最右翼的外围。

Mr. Yang’s campaign feels different, though, in that it reflects the fractured nature of the modern internet. It has attracted economic wonks, tech-skeptic progressives, right-wing bigots, members of the so-called intellectual dark web and an assortment of half-serious trolls. (At times, watching the Yang Gang at work can feel like the political equivalent of the “Boaty McBoatface” episode — a group of bored internet mischief makers seeing how far they can push a joke.)

不过,杨安泽的竞选活动给人的感觉不同,因为它反映了现代互联网的分裂特征。他的竞选活动吸引了经济学究、对技术持怀疑态度的进步人士、右翼偏执狂、所谓的“智士暗网”(intellectual dark web)成员,以及发各种各样挑衅帖子的不完全认真的人。(有时,看着忙于工作的“杨帮”给人的感觉像是“小舟·麦克船脸”[Boaty McBoatface]的政治翻版,那是一群无聊的网上恶作剧者想看看他们能把一个玩笑搞多大而制造的闹剧。)

“There’s a sect of people who congregate online who view politics as almost a pointless exercise,” said Neeraj K. Agrawal, a communications director at a cryptocurrency-focused nonprofit, when asked to explain Mr. Yang’s appeal. “I think, in that context, elections and campaigns might as well be hilarious.”

“有那么一群在网上聚集的人,他们把政治视为一种几乎毫无意义的活动,”一个关注加密货币的非营利组织的通讯联络主管尼拉杰·K·阿格拉瓦尔(Neeraj K. Agrawal)在被要求解释杨安泽的吸引力时说。“我认为,在这些人眼里,选举和竞选活动只不过是搞笑而已。”

Some of Mr. Yang’s online support has been the kind he would rather not have. His candidacy has become an obsession on the politics forum on 4Chan, a message board known for the virulently racist and sexist views of its users, who call his basic income proposal “YangBux.”


Several prominent white nationalists, including Richard Spencer and Andrew Anglin, the publisher of the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer, have also signaled their support for Mr. Yang, who they believe shares their concern for the fate of the white race. In a tweet, Mr. Spencer called Mr. Yang “the most grounded presidential candidate of my lifetime.”

包括理查德·斯宾塞(Richard Spencer)和新纳粹网站“每日风暴”(Daily Stormer)创始人安德鲁·安格林(Andrew Anglin)在内的几个知名白人民族主义者也表达了对杨安泽的支持,他们认为,杨安泽和他们一样担心白人的命运。斯宾塞发推称杨安泽是“我有生以来最接地气的总统候选人”。

“It’s uncomfortable,” Mr. Yang, a son of immigrants, said of his campaign’s being embraced by the internet’s far-right fringe. “They’re antithetical to everything I stand for.”


You can’t control the internet, of course. But Mr. Yang may be able to repel some of his most objectionable right-wing supporters by emphasizing his progressive policy positions. He has broadened his platform to include issues like marijuana legalization and Puerto Rican statehood (he supports both) as well as more obscure subjects like marketing robocalls and circumcision (he opposes both).


He is also playing along eagerly with his tamer online fans, retweeting their memes and egging them on with joke policy proposals like a “canine dividend,” which would give every American household 1,000 dogs a month.


Mr. Yang’s rush of online support has earned him the attention of major media outlets, and has led to a series of TV appearances. (“The ratio of days I have makeup on is getting higher,” he recently tweeted.) But mainstream Democrats don’t seem intimidated yet.


“We are quick to forget that online support is loudest among die-hards and is not representative of voters,” said Andrew Bleeker, the president of the Democratic communications firm Bully Pulpit Interactive and a former adviser to President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on digital strategy.

“我们很快就忘记,网上的支持中,顽固分子的声音最大,并不反映有代表性的选民,”安德鲁·布里克(Andrew Bleeker)说,他是民主党通讯联络事务所Bully Pulpit Interactive的总裁,曾为巴拉克·奥巴马总统和希拉里·克林顿担任数字战略顾问。

Still, some people who have noticed Mr. Yang’s rise on social media have cited his enthusiastic fan base — and the fact that nobody saw Mr. Trump coming, either — as proof that it’s too early to write anyone off.


“There’s a vacuum on the left for people like Yang who view the internet as a primary and not secondary medium for audience building,” said Elizabeth Spiers, a Democratic political consultant and a former editor of Gawker.

“左派阵营中缺少像杨安泽这样的人,他们把互联网视为吸引大众的主要媒体,而不是次要媒体,”民主党政治顾问、Gawker前编辑伊丽莎白·斯皮尔斯(Elizabeth Spiers)说。

But there is a difference between building an online audience and running a successful campaign for president.


“The challenge he faces is how to take the enthusiasm and energy he’s getting on social media and elsewhere and turn it into action,” said Kelly Dietrich, the founder of the National Democratic Training Committee, which helps train candidates to run for political office.

“他面临的挑战是,如何把社交媒体和其他平台上人们对他的热情和为他所花的精力转化为行动,”全国民主党人培训委员会(National Democratic Training Committee)创始人凯利·迪特里希(Kelly Dietrich)说,她的机构帮助培训候选人竞选政治职位。

Mr. Yang is not resting on his internet laurels. He has set new a goal of raising 200,000 individual donations by June, and he is planning a series of rallies in Chicago, New York and other cities later in the spring.


He said he was also exploring the possibility of having a lifelike 3-D hologram made of himself that could be carried around battleground states like Iowa on the back of a flatbed truck, allowing Mr. Yang to give a recorded version of his stump speech without being physically present.


“It’s a way for me to be in two places at once,” he said.