07 January 2019

A crazy rich Asian?

At least 25 people so far have declared their candidacies for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, according to the Albany Times Union. One of them is the entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who made a campaign appearance in Latham on January 6. Yang has been running a nonprofit called Venture For America since selling a test-prep company to the industry leader back in 2009. His main issue is addressing the consequences of automation for American workers. Convinced that technological unemployment drove many Americans to Trumpism and worried that more sectors of the economy are subject to the same trend, Yang offers a partial solution in the form of guaranteed income. He's not the first to propose that, and he presumably doesn't expect people to live on the monthly $1,000 he proposes as a "Freedom Dividend." What Yang seems to really depend on is the support of Asian-American Democrats should he make it to the March 2020 Democratic primary. I'm not sure if Asians in general are as likely to vote for ethnic pride as he hopes, especially when offered someone with no political experience at a time when Democrats still hold that against the current President. In any event, Yang is realistic enough to realize that Iowa is an earlier and arguably higher hurdle for him. He's already made several visits to the home of the famous caucus and calculates that he'll need 40,000 votes there, or more than 20% of the expected turnout, to get real attention from the national media. Unfortunately, each journey to Iowa and each appearance before potential donors is most likely nothing more than an ego trip for Yang, and he, unlike some people, lacks the celebrity to make his ego of interest to the common voter. We may be in an age now when it's just as damning not to have ever been a TV star as it might be never to have held elected office. Celebrity Apprentice might have been the perfect platform for such a candidate as this.

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