Presidential candidate Andrew Yang (D-New York) could be the leader America needs now because he rejects culturism and the “cultural civil war.”
For example, Yang refused to demonize comedian; and former Saturday Night Live cast member Shane Gillis, for telling racist jokes. Instead, Yang reached out to Gillis and showed sympathy for the artist.
Yang Tweets Gillis “does not strike me as malignant or evil. He strikes me as a still-forming comedian from central Pennsylvania.” Saturday Night Live withdrew its job offer to Gillis after racist jokes; including one about Yang, from the comedian’s podcast surfaced.
However, Yang tweets of Gillis; “For the record, I do not think he should lose his job. We would benefit from being more forgiving rather than punitive. We are all human.”
Thus, Yang understands that racism is a human weakness that even good people can suffer from. Instead, of driving Gillis from society, Yang reaches out to the performer and tries to understand him.
Consequently, Yang refuses to engage in the demonization of white people, the working class, Christians, conservatives, and Middle America the media elite tries to disguise as anti-racism. Therefore, Yang refuses to let culturism shape his thinking or his politics.
Andrew Yang’s Revolt against Culturism
Thus, Yang is revolting against the elite and its agenda of culturism. To clarify, The Oxford Living Dictionaries describe culturism as a “Belief in the relative superiority or inferiority of certain cultures;” or, “discrimination or prejudice based on assumptions about culture.”
Politicians use culturism to distract voters from other issues. For example, Republicans harp on threats to the family, or Christianity, to divert middle and working-class voters from a political agenda that empowers the rich. Likewise, Democrats use culturism to distract voters from their refusal to fight for the interests of ordinary people.
I think one reason for Yang’s success; and his appeal to some Trump voters, is his refusal to engage in culturism. Instead, Yang’s campaign focuses on economic promises like his Freedom Dividend basic income scheme.
How Andrew Yang Fights Culturalism
Moreover, Yang distances himself from culturalist arguments and attempts to demonize groups like white men. For example, Yang refused to join the media lynching of Gillis.
For example, Yang’s description of Gillis as “a still-forming comedian from central Pennsylvania” is an important window into the candidate’s philosophy and thinking. Journalism Professor Peter Beinhart offers a great insight into Yang’s thinking and ideology in The Atlantic.
“What does central Pennsylvania have to do with it,” Beinhart writes? “For Andrew Yang and his supporters, everything. It’s code for economic distress—which Yang believes fuels racism and most of the other problems that menace America.”
Yang Blames Technological Unemployment for Racism
Yang’s belief is that recent racist outbursts and the Trump election stem from growing poverty and despair in working and middle-class white communities. Yang’s theory is that automation is killing millions of jobs, and destroying the social and economic status of white males.
Consequently, those white men are lashing out with bigotry and violence. In his interesting book, The War on Normal People Yang writes: “The violence in 2017 over the removal of Confederate symbols can also be seen as engendered in part by economic dislocation.”
Essentially, Yang thinks economic dislocation caused by technological unemployment is the greatest problem facing America. However, our leaders refuse to acknowledge that problem.
Beinart, notes that Yang; like U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Liz Warren (D-Massachusetts) and President Donald J. Trump (R-New York), blames “bad economics” for America’s problems. The difference is that Yang thinks Trump, Sanders, and Warren ignore the role technology plays in America’s problems.
Yang vs. The Billionaire class
However Yang, like his rivals, faces the problem of a ruling class that profits from those “bad economics.” Silicon Valley and Wall Street make vast amounts of money from the job-killing tech that Yang is afraid of, for instance.
Yang promotes the Freedom Dividend $1,000 a month basic income scheme because he believes new technologies will cause mass unemployment over the next decade. Indeed, Yang thinks the United States will soon face levels of unemployment and economic dislocation not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Moreover, like a lot of Americans, Yang believes the culture war is a tactic the economic elite uses to divide its’ opponents. This will unsettle many people who truly believe in culturalism. Devout Christians who feel threatened by growing secularism, many gays, feminists, and people of color frightened by racism, for instance.
In addition, Yang is offering a technocratic alternative to modern American politics. “The more Trump cranks up America’s identity wars, the more some Americans yearn for a more technocratic, bloodless, “nonideological” politics,” Beinart writes.
Interestingly, Yang is tapping into powerful traditions of American politics here. Historically leaders as diverse as Andrew Hamilton, Henry Clay (W-Kentucky), Abraham Lincoln (R-Illinois), Grover Cleveland (D-New York), Theodore Roosevelt (R-New York), Woodrow Wilson (D-New Jersey), Franklin D. Roosevelt (D-New York), John F. Kennedy (D-Massachusetts), and Barrack Obama (D-Illinois) offered visions of “a technocratic, bloodless “nonideological” politics” in different eras of American history.
Is Andrew Yang the American Leader for Today?
Importantly, “bloodless nonideological technocracy” was most popular in the times of the greatest cultural, economic, and political upheaval.
During the Civil War, the populist revolt against the Robber Barons at the turn of the 20th Century, the Depression, World War II, and the 1960s, for example. I think we are living in such a time, which explains Andrew Yang’s appeal on Main Street.
Thus, Yang could be the leader America needs today. I think Yang offers the leadership America needs. Here are some examples of Yang’s leadership:
1. Yang openly discusses problems and dangers other politicians refuse to acknowledge; including technological unemployment and the true threat from Climate Change.
2. Yang refuses to engage in the demonization of Americans who voice unpopular or politically incorrect views. Unlike the armchair social justice warriors in America’s media; Yang understands that racists, Trump supporters, Evangelical Christians, billionaires, libertarians, Republicans, anti-fa, Marxists, Chomskyites, etc., are part of our society and need to enjoy the same rights as other Americans. In addition, he respects those individuals as human beings. That’s a lesson all American need to learn.
3. Consequently, Yang, like Barack Obama, Martin Luther King, and Abraham Lincoln, promotes real tolerance and forgiveness. Like King, Obama, and Lincoln, Yang understands that the antidote to racism is the rejection of demonizaiton, not demonization of the racists.
4. Yang is one of the few American thought leaders who recognizes that culturism is a destructive prejudice and ideology that we need to reject if we are to advance as a society. Moreover, Yang understands that culturism; like racism, is a destructive form of bigotry not a values system.
5. Unlike most leftists, Yang recognizes that political correctness is just as intolerant and destructive as racism. In particular, Yang understands that political correctness, like racism, is rooted in delusions of cultural superiority that enable bigotry and arrogance.
6. Yang is the only active political leader trying to adapt American values and ideas to the realities of the 21st Century. Unlike Trump and Sanders, Yang is not rejecting the 21st Century and trying to return to an imaginary 20th Century utopia. Instead, he is imagining a better America built with the tools technology provides.
In the final analysis, I think Andrew Yang is the political leader 21st Century America needs. I believe, Yang is the only presidential candidate who appears to live in the 21st Century and understand it.