Donald Trump has been an interesting president. Since his election in 2016, he has served as a voice (though not a very eloquent one) for a growing Right-wing across the western world. A voice for people who are unhappy with irresponsible globalisation and illegal immigration threatening their livelihoods.
However, not everything has been sunshine and roses. Trump has caved many of his core promises. The wall has not been built, illegal immigrants have not been deported, and America has not withdrawn from its ‘pointless wars.’ Now with Trump calling for more immigration to man factories, there are many on the right who are concerned where his economic policies will lead.
Enter Andrew Yang. An entrepreneur of a somewhat philanthropic slant, Yang has spent a large portion of his career trying to get entrepreneurs to work for start-ups in disadvantaged US cities. It’s an area he’s had significant success in, the Obama administration bestowed upon him the title of ‘Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship.’ Now Yang has turned his attention away from business and towards politics: the office of presidency. His platform is nothing if not interesting.
On the negative side, he’s running as a Democrat, and has sympathies with the Left on topics like gun control, abortion, and immigration. He wants strong gun regulations in place, and has been very vague on immigration. But that’s really all there is to say on the bad.
While he says he’s pro immigration, he is only in favour of legal immigration, and mostly in the context of bringing in educated professionals who will benefit the US. He believes that the US shouldn’t be refusing or sending away smart people so they can compete against America elsewhere.
His immigration sympathies seemingly stop there though. In an interview with podcaster Joe Rogan, Yang says there needs to be hard border control, and although he wants there to be a pathway for illegals to gain residency status, he seems to interpret it as a necessary evil.
For Yang, deporting the amount of illegals that are currently in the US is impossible, and so the only way for the US to ever possibly deal with them is by trying to document them. This is a major policy deviation from the Democratic norm, which is fast becoming full amnesty. However, considering Yang’s flagship policy, it makes perfect sense.
You see, Andrew Yang is saying that if he is elected president, that he would give every single person over the age of 18 one thousand dollars.
Every. Single. Month.
This isn’t an attempt to bribe the electorate though. Yang is worried about automation, and while Trump wants to import more workers to fill factory jobs, Yang recognises that in twenty years time there will be no more factory jobs. In fact, according to Yang, there probably won’t be truck driving jobs either. Or taxi jobs. Or catering jobs. Or call centre jobs – and on, and on, and on.
Even jobs like journalism and programming are going to come under threat in the coming decades as AI gets more and more intelligent. In the coming quarter of a century, many people are going to start finding it very difficult to get a steady paying job.
But how could the already massively indebted United States possibly afford such an expense? This is something Yang has payed a lot of attention to throughout his campaign.
One of his main ways of raising funding is the implementation of a nationwide Value Added Tax of 10%, a tax that already exists in Ireland and Europe at a much higher percentage, yet somehow has never spread to the states. He also seems to not be all that fond of foreign wars, something that will likely save him a couple of bucks to say the least.
And for someone on the political Right, this UBI scheme, which Yang is marketing as the ‘Freedom Dividend,’ is actually very attractive.
It disincentivizes government from bringing in more people, and as such would slow the kinds of mass immigration that is occurring in Europe from happening in the US. The measure is also designed to be implemented instead of rather than on top of existing expensive social programmes that more mainstream Democrats are fans of.
Yang is adamant that not only is he not a socialist, he is a businessman who simply wants the citizen to benefit from their country. To him, the citizen is an investor, and so is entitled to receive something back from a well-run United States. However, instead of receiving this benefit in the form of some convoluted social welfare programme, he wants people to receive it guaranteed, to do with what they like.
This position is a very libertarian one, and one that Yang says will increase the likelihood of people taking the risky leap into the world of enterprise, as they will always have money to fall back on. Whether this Universal Basic Income scheme would actually benefit the economy or not is still up for debate.
But the question now is will he get to election day to debate this point? Right now he’s polling at 1% nationally, but he is confident that if he can get to the debate stage for the primaries, that number would quickly rise. Frankly, I’m inclined to agree with him given his vast and detailed knowledge of policy, as well as his honest approach and speaking skills.
Whether he manages to do this or not, I do believe that those on the Right should give his campaign, and his ideas a detailed look, and not dismiss them out of hand. Yang is a fresh face with fresh perspectives in a rapidly changing world. A world in which Trump is failing to succeed and not keeping to his promises.
Has Trump has done enough to warrant keeping him in the White House? Or it is time for a change of leadership? If the latter is indeed the case, then Yang could well be the correct replacement to really Make America Great Again.