Andrew Yang has championed a universal basic income policy, coined “the Freedom Dividend.”
A big part of his sell has been that you could use this money for any personal need or want.
Struggling to afford housing rent prices near your job? $1,000 can help cushion that cost.
Buried under student loan debt? Now you could more quickly get it paid off.
Just had a new baby? Daycare expenses become much more manageable.
Or, as gaming enthusiast Matt Denney put it, just a portion of that money could save the Iowa Smash Bros. Melee scene.
“The issue is that most of us in the smash community are pretty young, and a lot more focused on paying rent than supporting a grassroots fighting game community,” Denney explained.
This is how Denney opened a Facebook post in “Iowa Smash!” a private Facebook group for Iowa’s most devoted Smash Bros. players. He would go on to explain, in the most on-brand, #YangGang way possible, that Yang’s Freedom Dividend could fill in that gap to support the community.
“So hear me out: This Facebook group alone has 1.6k members. If there was a government policy in place that gave everyone $1,000 a month, that would mean 1.6 million dollars between everyone here,” Denney explained. “Of course, not all of it will be spent supporting the scene. But, even if just 1% of collective spending goes towards Smash, that’s $10,600 a month to the Iowa Smash scene. I know that this money would have save my tournament from being cancelled.”
While this is not exactly a typical expense highlighted by Yang on the campaign trail, it’s a good look into the organic, online well of support that Yang has, organizing in places you might not expect.
But what makes this example incredibly Iowa, is what ensued: actual policy discussion in the thread.
“There’s a guy running for president named Andrew Yang,” Denney continued. “He is the only one that can make this a reality. I know it sounds like a long shot, but Iowa is the place to make it happen. He only needs about 40 thousand votes in Iowa to prove he’s serious to the rest of the country.”
Not everyone in the page was as enthused about the idea, which quickly changed the discussion to actual policy, and not solely focused on how politics could impact the Smash scene.
This prompted a serious discussion about the implications of putting UBI in place, how Yang’s platform compares to other’s, and how other social programs compare to UBI or would be impacted by its implementation.
Some in the page called into question the Freedom Dividend’s place and whether or not it would replace or supplement other programs.
“From what I understand, government financial aid programs usually have a bunch of rules and complications,” Denney said. “UBI is easy to understand and easy to implement.”
In summary: Iowa’s caucus culture reaches further than anyone really knows. Nothing is safe; not even your Facebook group for a gaming community.
By Josh Cook