The Pull of Andrew Yang’s Pessimism


CLEAR LAKE, Iowa—The Best Western Holiday Lodge off Route 18 in northern Iowa feels like the right place to talk about how maybe it’s too late. Accept it, deal with it, Andrew Yang tells me, but try to make the best of it, and maybe we’ll even get somewhere decent along the way. But there’s no “patching the dam,” as he put it. “The world has changed, the world is changing. We can’t put the genie back in the bottle, try as we might or wish as we might,” he told me. “We have to start dealing with the world as it is.” (Our conversation can be heard in full on the Radio Atlantic podcast below.)

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Yang has already qualified for the third Democratic primary debate next month, while most of his competitors will not. Several candidates who fail to make the cut are expected to drop out by the end of September. Yang believes his support is much greater than polls can measure, claiming that his supporters—the “Yang Gang”—primarily use cell phones instead of the land-lines that tend to make up the average polling groups. Tesla founder Elon Musk tweeted “I support Yang” last week. “We’re going to shock the world come next February,” Yang told me, referring to the Iowa caucuses on February 3, 2020.

Yang thinks he’s tapped into a new strain of politics. He insists he’s not a fatalist or nihilist. He figures himself to be an optimist, just one who sees how terrible things are and how much worse they can get, and he believes that the only way to get to the light is to acknowledge the darkness. “When you accept the circumstances that we’re going to be competing against technologies that have a marginal cost of near zero,” Yang told me, “then quickly you have to say, ‘OK, how are we going to start valuing our time?’ Like, what does a 21st-century economy look like, in a way that actually serves our interests, and not the capital-efficiency machine?”

This is the message coming from a 44-year-old former corporate lawyer from New York who spent years running a non-profit investment firm. He has zero political experience, and doesn’t pretend otherwise. “If you’re a politician, your incentives are to make with the happy-talk and then get elected—and then …read more


Source:: The Atlantic – Politics

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