But now that Yang has outlasted a number of more conventional and better known rivals—and achieved surprisingly robust poll numbers and fundraising totals—his campaign has started to dream about what could happen if their candidate could transcend his novelty status. So when Yang’s top staff gathered at the end of December, his campaign chief, Nick Ryan, made clear that the strategy for the final weeks before voting starts would be to “present our guy as President Yang, Commander in Chief Yang.” How do you do that when Yang is the $1,000-a-month guy—not the bilateral-summit guy or the Situation Room guy? He’s the candidate who loves to crowd-surf, whose fans meme him into Obi-Wan Kenobi robes (“He is our only hope”), who wears his thick blue-and-red campaign scarf everywhere he goes. Can he convince voters he’s commander-in-chief material while continuing to indulge in the oddball routine to which he ascribes much of his success so far?
Yang’s domestic-policy ideas clearly resonate far beyond the internet caverns where his Yang Gang” first took root. He has already done for automation what Bernie Sanders did for health care in 2016. With his devoted online-donor base, he could hang around in the primaries until only the billionaires and the front-runners are left. And if the nomination remains tightly contested, and he has accumulated significant delegates, suddenly he looks like a potential power broker or a reasonable second-choice candidate, and … well, he and his staff have started to dream.