The first outing of the day was to Boone, north of Des Moines, for an Andrew Yang town hall in the back room of La Carreta Mexican Restaurant. A packed house of about 250 showed up for the thoroughly unconventional candidate. On visit 25 to the state, Yang now shows comfort in selling himself to voters. His jokes still don’t always connect, but he combines a quirky but charming personal style with a consistent vision of what’s wrong with the country (with less clarity on how to fix it). The explainer of Trumpism for Yang is the fear created by big tech’s attacks on jobs and communities in the “fourth industrial revolution.” As Amazon transforms shopping malls from “cheery to spooky” places, self-driving trucks threaten the largest jobs sector in many states, and improved voice recognition software ensures the loss of call center jobs, workers now feel increasingly disaffected. This helps to explain the country’s decrease in life expectancy as corporate profits rise.
Philosophically, Yang’s answer is to disconnect “economic value” from “human value,” placing new value on those “jobs” that matter in making American life better: stay-at-home parents, mentors, and local journalists. While the Humanity First response makes good sense, Yang’s policy response always comes down to his $1000/month guaranteed minimum income to recognize Americans’ inherent value as humans. It’s a simple and simplistic policy, but Yang has some true believers of varied ages and it wouldn’t be shocking for him to slightly over perform on Monday night.
Now off to Cedar Rapids to see Bernie Sanders with Vampire Weekend.