Can Andrew Yang Stick to One Thing?

Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Credit where credit is due: Andrew Yang has stayed busy since he spent a pile of out-of-town money to come in fourth in the Democratic primary for New York City mayor last June.

He’s dabbled in politics again, founding the Forward Party, which at best is a way to platform big-picture election reform and at worst could be a way to spoil important elections for Democrats. He’s found his path as a culture warrior, lamenting the decline of the American man and standing up for Joe Rogan, claiming the radio host is not racist because he “interacts” with Black people. And this week, Yang, who has admirably been an advocate for putting cash in the hands of the vulnerable — if at the expense of cutting the safety net elsewhere — has found “the most profound opportunity to fight poverty.” The solution? Becoming a D.C. lobbyist for Web3, which at this juncture is basically just cryptocurrencies and NFTs.

The term Web3 refers more or less to the third generation of the internet, with the first being static websites through the ’90s and early aughts and the second encompassing the rise of social media. With everyone’s data controlled by a few tech giants, Web3 adherents consider the decentralization of cryptocurrencies and other shiny new objects housed on the blockchain a way to avoid the consolidation of power in the tech space. Yang is headed back to Washington to help lawmakers with a fairly simple pitch: This emerging sector could create a bunch of new jobs and a “new generation of financial services.”

The only problem is that Web3’s primary services, cryptocurrency and NFTs, have so far been unable to live up to their democratizing values and have yet to prove they are anything more than speculative assets. As for a profound opportunity to fight poverty, Yang may have been closer to mark with his push for universal basic income: Focusing on financial services in a sector where most of those invested are already rich may not be the most direct path to redistributing wealth to the working class. At least with this turn, Yang is remaining consistent, overpromising on his latest venture in serial entrepreneurship.

Can Andrew Yang Stick to One Thing?