Both conservatives and progressives must respond to Andrew Yang (D-New York) quickly. The insurgent presidential candidate’s entire campaign is the most blistering and effective critique of capitalism, America, and our notions of progress delivered in decades.
Unfortunately, media accounts belittle Yang as an eccentric pushing a crackpot idea the Freedom Dividend $1,000-a-month basic income scheme. Such shallow reporting usually ignores Yang’s larger argument that progress, capitalism, technology, and the American Dream are broken, and in need of radical repair.
Yang’s argument is that our economy no longer provides jobs for many people because machines do the work. In addition, Yang warns that robots and algorithms will replace much of the American workforce over the next decade and we are unprepared for that cataclysm.
Why we Must Listen to Andrew Yang
In his fascinating book The War on Normal People, Yang warns that technological unemployment will soon lead to violent social upheaval. Notably, Yang predicts the truck drivers will riot and revolt when self-driving vehicles take their jobs.
Moreover, Yang blames everything from Donald J. Trump’s (R-New York) surprise electoral victory in 2016 to declining birthrates to the opiate crisis on technology’s effect on employment. Yang, however, is no Luddite, socialist, or technophobe.
Instead, Andrew Yang is a visionary entrepreneur who witnessed the failure of technology, progress, the free market, and capitalism first hand. In fact, Yang is a disillusioned true believer in Ayn Rand style capitalist utopia who is now searching desperately for an alternative.
Yang shows American capitalism is failing
Indeed, it was Yang’s failure to create jobs with capitalism that led him to advocate basic income, Vox Recode reports.
To elaborate, Yang lost his faith in capitalism after realizing that his nonprofit Venture for America could not create jobs. Yang’s plan was to create 100,000 jobs in the Rust Belt by 2025. However, Venture America had only created 4,000 jobs as of 13 June 2019, Recode writer Theodore Schleifer estimates.
Revealingly, Yang admits all the praise he received from the Intelligentsia for creating nonexistent jobs helped kill his faith in capitalism. “I was getting a lot of credit for Venture for America,” Yang tells Recode. “In a way that actually gave me increased misgivings.”
The Entrepreneur who is Criticizing America
Venture for America’s goal was to recruit brilliant young capitalists to create jobs in places like Detroit. To fund the goal, Yang tried to raise venture capital from the wealthy.
Yet Yang quickly realized that project was impossible and his efforts were irrelevant. Yang created few jobs and most of the Venture for America companies made little impact in cities like New Orleans. Additionally, Yang discovered the billionaire class had little desire to help those unemployed by robots.
At the end of the day, Yang realized entrepreneurship; and by implication capitalism, technology, and progress, could not solve America’s problems. Instead, he realized that government and potentially culture will have to provide the answers.
Andrew Yang is attracting a Huge Audience
Yang is making the most effective and damning critique of American capitalism presented in generations and people are listening.
In particular, Joe Rogan’s YouTube interview with Yang had received 3.081 million views as of 14 June 2019. Plus, Yang’s interview on The Ben Shapiro Show received 1.465 million views by 14 June 2019. Thus, Yang’s views attracted an audience of 4.731 million with two podcast appearances.
Importantly, that attention is translating into political support. Yang’s campaign raised $1.75 million in 1st Quarter 2019 and $1.877 million in 2nd Quarter 2019 as if 16 June 2019. Additionally, Yang qualified for the first round of Democratic presidential debates.
Impressively, Yang is now out polling some nationally known political figures in the Democratic Presidential Primary. Emerson Polling estimates Yang’s support at 1% in May 2019. But Yang already out polls some high-profile politicians including U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), US Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), and US Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota).
Is Andrew Yang a 21st Century Theodore Roosevelt?
Progressives and conservatives need to listen to Yang because his critique of capitalism is resonating with the American people.
Interestingly, Yang’s experience is in keeping with American political traditions and history. In fact, Yang reminds me of one of the most disruptive politicians in American history, President Theodore Roosevelt (R-New York).
Like Yang, Teddy started out as a true believer in traditional American ideology – rugged individualism. Yet like Yang, TR radically changed his ideology after exposure to social, economic, and political realities. Specifically, Teddy became radicalized after seeing poverty in New York’s tenements: and political corruption in Albany and Washington, first hand.
As a consequence, Roosevelt became a strong supporter of radical policies like Social Security, single-payer health care, the minimum wage, and unions. By 1912, Teddy even ran for President on the far-left Bull Moose or Progressive ticket to force the major parties to adopt those policies.
Notably, almost all of Theodore Roosevelt’s radical proposals became national policy within 30 years of his 1912 Bull Moose insurgency. Oddly, Theodore’s Democratic cousin; Franklin D. Roosevelt (D-New York) or FDR, gets the credit for most of those disruptions.
Why Conservatives must Listen to Andrew Yang
Conservatives and Libertarians must listen to Andrew Yang because he refutes their traditional economic programs.
In particular, Yang directly refutes the belief that any American can prosper through hard work, initiative, and creativity. Additionally, Yang admits that unfettered capitalism, weak government, and unlimited technological progress are harming vast numbers of ordinary people.
This is a total refutation of the current Republican ideology and Yang has the data to prove it. Consequently, conservatives cannot dismiss Yang as a crank.
Moreover, it will be impossible for conservatives to dismiss Yang as a socialist or a social justice warrior. Instead, Yang comes across as a non-ideological pragmatist with no interest in cultural issues. Tellingly, tells Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser he opposes the prosecution of Donald J. Trump after the president leaves office.
Accordingly, Yang is attracting support from some conservatives and even a few members of the far right. Republicans must pay attention because Donald J. Trump (R-New York) used a similar focus on economic issues to steal large numbers of Democratic votes.
Why Progressives Must Pay Attention to Andrew Yang
Progressives need to pay attention to Andrew Yang because he is offering creative solutions for the problems of our dysfunctional economy.
Plus, Yang is offering those solutions at a time when many of the progressives’ traditional fixes to economic problems are failing. Labor unions, public education, higher education, the minimum wage, regulation, and central planning are increasingly ineffective.
Traditional progressive economic solutions are increasingly ineffective because of technology. Digital platforms and algorithms are eliminating the need for clerical workers in banking, finance, law, and even government, for instance. As a consequence, jobs that require a limited education are disappearing.
Technology also threatens the high-paying blue-collars jobs on which traditional unions and Democratic politics depend. In fact, robots and automation are killing the jobs of oil field technicians and many factory workers.
Under those circumstances, traditional Democratic campaigns like that Joe Biden (D-Delaware) is running will go nowhere. Speaking to empty union halls will not sustain political campaigns or parties.
Andrew Yang’s Surprisingly Conservative Critique of Capitalism
My take is that Andrew Yang is a bigger threat to conservatives than progressives because his ideas are well within traditional conservative thought.
Notably, some prominent conservatives like Milton Friedman and Charles Murray proposed basic income schemes. Additionally, Yang’s philosophy and ideas fit within traditional conservative thought.
In fact, Yang’s Human-Centered Capitalism is very close to the notions of limited government and restricted capitalism advanced by past Republican leaders. Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Dewey (R-New York), President Dwight D. Eisenhower (R-Kansas), US Senator Robert Taft (R-Ohio), and President Richard M. Nixon (R-California) all promoted a limited welfare state with strong government regulation of private business, for instance.
Why Andrew Yang can Steal Republican Votes
Significantly, today’s highest-profile conservative pundit; Tucker Carlson is a staunch critic of unfettered capitalism.
Carlson, tellingly, is an admirer of Yang who praises Yang’s views. Prominently, Carlson is advancing the idea that modern capitalism is a threat to traditional American values and communities.
My belief is that Yang will be popular in Middle America where tens of millions of voters are experiencing capitalism’s failures first hand. In particular, Yang will have a strong appeal to Christians and social conservatives who increasingly live in fear of capitalism and technology.
Unlike US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), US Senator Liz Warren (D-Massachusetts), and US Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) Yang is no socialist. Andrew is not running on the “capitalism is evil and must be destroyed” ticket. Instead, Yang is running on the save capitalism from itself ticket.
Thus, many Republicans, moderates, and even conservatives could vote for Yang as a modern-day FDR. Much of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s (D-New York) appeal was that he saved American capitalism by offering an alternative to socialism through his New Deal.
In conclusion, both progressives and conservatives need to examine Andrew Yang and his proposals. Those who dislike Yang’s prescriptions for America’s dysfunctional economy need to offer better solutions not platitudes about the greatness of America.
By pointing out the obvious truth that capitalism and technology are failing average people, Yang could completely disrupt American politics.