Andrew Yang is the candidate in the Democratic primary race that can best be described as the lovable loser. I use the word loser not in the derogatory sense. I use the word loser because honestly, he is destined to lose the primary. As much as I love the guy’s ideas even I find myself thinking his attempt to pay the Freedom Dividend out of pocket was a bit hokey and illegal that he lacks any real name recognition amongst most primary voters, and that he lacks any support from the DNC establishment. His ideas are lovable, but his chances of winning are not.
However, having said that he, and his ideas, shouldn’t be pushed into the shadows to be forgotten the moment the last debate is had. The Freedom Dividend, in one form or another, is something that should be discussed as a tool of alleviating social ills as more and more jobs are inevitably lost to automation. This idea of a Universal Basic Income, UBI, to improve the lives of a country’s citizens isn’t original. While there are many things in which the Finish experiment can be criticized, i.e. it did not incentive citizens to obtain jobs, there is an area in which the UBI excelled. Those who received the UBI had a positive increase in mental and physical well-being. The UBI, like any solution, isn’t perfect and the kinks must be hashed out but it is an idea that Canadians and Europeans are debating as we speak.
Maybe one of the first things Mr. Yang can do is drop the overly patriotic title of freedom dividend for the UBI. The term Freedom Dividend is a nauseatingly arrogant.
Point being Yang is correct in asserting that we must address the socio and economic effects of automation, and how to remedy the negative effects, is a discussion that we must all have in the real world and not just in my Sociology classroom. To keep the discussion within the realm of academia would be to ignore the fact that we liberals and Democrats are meant to be the party fighting for the poor. If we as liberals fail to address every aspect of our economy and society that affects the poor, then are ideology is empty.
The other reason that Andrew Yang must be allowed to continue to be a part of the conversation is that he is the one candidate that has had the guts to point out an inconvenient truth. The poor and middle class in the fly over states did not vote for Trump because of the singular fact that Trump promotes racism, they voted for Trump because their jobs were disappearing, and they were losing their ability to feed their family. The Obama economy was good, but it was not good for everyone.
Before I continue, I think it is important to point out that neither Yang or myself are arguing that racism played no role in the election of Trump, nor are we arguing that we should ignore the very real systematic and cultural racism that ushered in the Trump era. What we are both saying is that automation and job loss contributed to the growth of racism as members of the hurting poor and middle class reached out desperately looking for help and someone to blame for their condition.
Returning to the original conversation.
Yang may not be the best person, or the most likely, to sit behind the desk in the Oval Office, but his ideas make him invaluable to whomever the future President may be. One, he recognizes the causes of social ills and has great ideas regarding the solutions to those problems. Two, he is a billionaire who genuinely has empathy and sympathy for the plight of the poor and recognizes that an economy and society can simultaneously create opportunities for those who are already have money to continue to make money as well as providing more than just hope for upward mobility to those in the lower classes. Having that moderating voice in a Bernie cabinet would ideal, as Bernie tends to act like every rich person in America survives by feeding off the blood of the poor. Finally, having someone who has a real-world understanding of how the economy works, rather than just an academic one, in a position to influence economic policy is what this country needs
Yang isn’t perfect, nor is he flashy, but outside of Bernie, he is the most genuine person on that stage. He speaks truth to power, even when it makes us uncomfortable. I want that type of person in the next White House administration. I want all aspects of our society and economy to be addressed, and I want someone who isn’t afraid to tell either me or our country’s leader that a problem is arising and how to fix said problem…no matter how uncomfortable the conversation about the problem and its’ solution may be. Yang will never be our next president, but he can, and should, remain influential in our next President’s cabinet.