Andrew Yang 2020 is no more.
I admit it. Over the past several months I’ve gone from being extremely skeptical of Andrew Yang and his ideas to a proud member of the #YangGang.
Now, I’m not sure if I would have voted for him in in a general election (to be fair though, I’m not sure if I’ll ever vote for anyone in a presidential general election again), but I was all on board with his Democratic primary bid. With the exception of Tulsi Gabbard, he was the only Democratic candidate I was enthusiastic about and could support with a clear conscience.
I love the concept of Universal Basic Income (UBI). I believe that it is vastly superior in all ways to other “progressive” proposals for a federal jobs guarantee or mandatory national service, and it offers to a treatment for poverty that goes far behind the oversimplified idea of “lifting yourself up by your boot straps” that conservatives plaster everywhere. By injecting UBI into mainstream political discussion, Andrew Yang performed a tremendous public service; that alone makes he former candidacy an overwhelming net good for our political discourse.
Yang was the only candidate whose ideas made me look forward to the future. As a 24 year-old, I am under no elusion that within my working lifetime automation will not only affect, but likely displace almost any job available to me.
Conservatives and libertarians like to pretend that the coming AI revolution is just another advancement in technology, little different than the transition from wagons to Model Ts – that’s delusional. Progressives are under the assumption that they can legislate away the AI revolution – that’s equally delusional. Yang’s ideas and intense combination of pessimism (for our current trajectory) and optimism (about our potential future) made me realize that AI and automation aren’t paper tigers to be ignored or boogeymen to be feared. AI and automation have the potential to revolutionize labor as it has existed for centuries and to largely eradicate the scourge of “bullsh*t jobs” and menial jobs that leave their occupants underpaid and unfulfilled.
Alas, with Yang’s withdrawal form the race, there’s little reason to expect that whoever wins the presidential election in November will have any serious or worthwhile responses to the questions Yang brilliantly made so many aware to. Likewise, I see little reason for me to go to the voting booth.