AMES, Iowa -- The first time award-winning comedian Dave Chappelle heard of Andrew Yang was from a friend. Fast forward to today and Yang is the only presidential candidate Chappelle has ever endorsed. He credits that to Yang’s plan on universal basic income.
It wasn’t until Chappelle’s Netflix special “Sticks & Stones” came out that he started to look into Yang.
“It just so happens that week one of my neighbors had given me [Yang's] book,” said Chappelle. “I read the book and I couldn't believe what I read. So I had my wife reach out to his campaign. They vetted me and called me back. We ended up meeting in LA before he went to a debate at Long Beach.”
Their meeting was only supposed to last a few minutes, but it lasted much longer as the two bonded over fatherhood and like-minded goals for their communities. Chappelle, a native of Dayton, Ohio, says universal basic income would uplift his community.
“You will take a poll in Dayton and say 'what would you rather have, $12,000 a year or health insurance?' Everyone's taking the money. Health insurance is great but groceries are necessary,” said Chappelle. “People are having a hard time getting the things they need. I started measuring what a universal basic income would do for my community and it would save it almost instantly.”
Yang says he was thrilled when Chappelle announced he was officially part of the “Yang Gang."
“He wants what's best for the country. And it's not necessarily the norm for someone of Dave's stature as a celebrity to come and throw down with a political candidate or campaign. That just speaks to the kind of man David is,” said Yang.
Ultimately, Chappelle’s decision to get involved in the 2020 election cycle was rooted in the change he was seeing in his community. With 32.7 percent of the population in Dayton living below the poverty line, Chappelle says people are suffering and that change needs to happen.
“If we know that a third of the people up the street can’t buy groceries, then you start to feel an imperative concern. It's not the kind of thing that I would just like and secretly hope for the best. So I should say something, you know,” said Chappelle.
Chappelle says the most important focus of this election is not to “Make America Great Again” but to “Make America Feel Better Again.”