Nicholas Wan wants to be taken seriously. He wants to be seen as a credible candidate for the 2018 New York 22nd Congressional District race. Except there is a problem. Nicholas Wan himself.
The biggest problem for Mr. Wan is not his age nor complete inexperience in politics and governance. The 27 year old resident of the Southern Tier has a far more pressing problem, is he actually a candidate? The answer is conditional, and therefore most would look at his candidacy as a modern-era publicity stunt.
While not quite as entertainment oriented as say Vermin Supreme, a 2016 Democrat candidate for the Presidential nomination, Nicholas Wan shows some similarity. Like Supreme, the overwhelming population of the NY-22 were unaware of Mr. Wan’s existence. Like Supreme, the expressed political platform of Mr. Wan traverses ground not traditionally, or even uncommonly, attributed to the political affiliation they claim. Also like Supreme, Nicholas Wan is without credible financial or political backing.
But Vermin Supreme is a performance artist. Given he placed fourth in the 2016 New Hampshire Democratic Primary (with a total of 268 votes or 0.11%), just below the third place finish of Martin O’Malley – former Governor of Maryland (total of 667 votes of 0.26% of the vote). Anyone would be hard-pressed to find a supporter of Supreme that actually took him seriously – including Vermin Supreme himself.
Nicholas Wan appears to want to be taken seriously. Not serious enough to commit his personal funds to a run for elected office. Not serious enough to ask family, friends, or his “network” for donations – as he stated in an interview with WUTQ’s Talk of the Town program on October 13, 2017. Yet he is serious enough to ask the general public for conditional funding via CrowdPAC – which will only activate if the funding is a total of $25,000 raised by December 18, 2017.
“It’s at $850 right now [online donations for his campaign]. This is nothing that discourages me in the slightest. I literally just launched this on social media. I haven’t personally asked my network or a friend for $1. So that’s literally just been people on the internet giving small donations.”
Such a non-committal would normally be the end of any serious potential political endeavor. Candidates normally run because of convictions on the issues – even if only a single issue. According to Mr. Wan in the interview, it would appear his first concern is not a conviction to the issues, but the number of donations he can generate from strangers before he will put his own skin in the game.
But at 27 years of age, the uniqueness and dependence on social media and the internet has drawn news media attention. The question among politicos of all Parties is, ‘could this funding stream be viable.’ For media, this is another avenue to garner ratings among Millennials, that normally shun politics.
Still, we would take Wan seriously. To that end, we have looked up his campaign website, his policy positions, and asked a question via Twitter. The result may surprise a few.
According to Nicholas Wan’s campaign site, he intends to try to abolish the 14th Amendment. That Amendment states,
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Mr. Wan’s position (on illegal immigration and the 14th Amendment) is
“I would pursue this in a number of ways, most notably by ending the policy of citizenship “by soil”, (i.e. if you’re born here, regardless of who your parents are, you’re a citizen). I would seek legislation to end this immediately and to adopt stricter, more coherent requirements for becoming a U.S. citizen and for having children here that are citizens.”
It should be noted that Mr. Wan is the child of an immigrant and a US citizen. Thus, by his own words and policy intentions, he should not have American citizenship. Further, his comments are dangerously ambiguous about what someone would require to become a US citizen if his policy were to be adhered to. As an example, would citizenship be tied to Party affiliation, military participation, or economic abundance – he isn’t clear. The implications can be chilling.
But Mr. Wan wants to be taken seriously about term limits and congressional pay too. Mr. Wan mistakenly implies that the incumbent Congresswoman Tenney is against term limits. Given her statements publicly before and after the 2016 election, it is unclear how he comes to this conclusion. It is even more curious considering Congresswoman Tenney is still in her freshman year of Congress, and not a career politician like Sen. Charles Schumer as an example. But Wan has declared that he would only run for 2-terms, should he win.
In that same discussion on term limits, Mr. Wan states that he will not pursue the obligations of the elected office he hopes to hold. He says,
“I will not be voting on every bill that comes to the Congressional floor…
I will spend my maximum four years undoing needless regulation, abstaining from petty, meaningless legislation, and only focusing my efforts on the matters most important to my district — earmarking the Congressional appropriations for the benefit of Upstate New York, reclaiming my constituents’ lost tax dollars and promoting investment in Upstate New York.”
What is “petty, meaningless legislation” exactly? The national budget? Funding programs for the homeless? Funding for food stamps to feed poor children? He is once again without clarification. Which says nothing of the failure to address the bulk of congressional matters – not special interest pork spending paid for by taxpayers (like the $250 million spent on the Griffiss International Airport Drone Testing Site) but ensuring the safety and quality of life of citizens.
Yet, this declaration by Wan of course negates the obligation to address national issues, eliminates bipartisan co-operation on Bills, and potentially alienates Mr. Wan from support even among fellow Republicans and Conservatives in Congress. No single member of Congress, no matter the Party affiliation nor seat held, can force unilateral selfishly beneficial legislation (otherwise known as earmarks) that isolates one State above all others in the nation. Not exactly a serious approach to government and governance.
But what may be most dubious in a litany of dubious statements and policy positions, is what Mr. Wan has to say about his congressional pay. Mr. Wan has pledged to donate half his pay in a very specific manner. He will give it to certain specific police departments, in very oddly specific amounts:
My Year 1 donations will be as follows:
• $40,000 to the City of Utica Police Department.
• $27,000 to the Binghamton City Police.
• $20,000 to the City of Rome Police Department
Curiously, the largest population centers in the NY-22 District are Binghamton, Rome, and Utica. Mr. Wan does not state why he would separate the donations essentially according to voter population base. But it seems remarkably, and we will give the benefit of the doubt to his lack of any political experience, like a promise to kickback reward for votes. But Mr. Wan does not stop there. He goes on to pledge his potential second year of pay, if he conditionally enters the race and somehow won, as follows:
My Year 2 Donations will be as follows:
• $20,000 to the Oneida City Police Department
• $20,000 to the Herkimer County Sheriff’s Office
• $10,000 to the Chenango County Sheriff’s Office
• $10,000 to the Oswego City Police Department
• $10,000 to the Fulton Police Department
• $10,000 to the City of Cortland Police Department
• $7,000 to the Tioga County Sheriff’s Office
Again, there is no rhyme or reason given for this breakdown. Which leads to many questions.
The questions, once asked, keep flowing. The lack of political acumen is clear. The salesmanship of the approach is equally clear. But none of it feels serious. It just feels like it is a slogan meant to garner attention without providing anything to consumers or the public.
There is more that could be said, that amounts to an even less serious take on the candidacy of Nicholas Wan. But perhaps he has already told the public the most important thing to focus on when considering if this is serious or not,
“If I don’t hit the goal, then it’s no harm no foul.”