Andrew Yang, 44, is an entrepreneur from New York with no previous political experience. His social platform is standard Democratic drivel, with promises to protect abortion rights and gay marriage. He is not overtly Christian, and he rarely references Reagan or the Constitution. He is currently polling in the single digits and has almost no name recognition. Despite this, his campaign has the potential to galvanize conservatism in the upcoming decade, if only conservatives hear Mr. Yang out.
Andrew Yang’s platform could be summed up with one question: What is America going to do about automation? In much the same way that Trump’s 2016 campaign motivated voters on the immigration issue, Yang has thus far focused on one topic: job-stealing robots. Millions of jobs will be lost in the next decade as automation and artificial intelligence expand into every sector of the economy. Retail workers, fast food employees, and truck drivers — some of America’s most common jobs — are all on the ropes. In an interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Yang said:
“I think it would be insane to just sit back and watch this automation wave overtake our communities and our economy… We need to evolve, we need to start pushing the way we think of economic progress to include how our families are doing, how our children are doing, and things that would actually matter to the American people, because GDP is gonna lead us off a cliff. Robot trucks? Great for GDP! Terrible for many, many American communities.”
As automation continues to push America’s labor-force participation rate down to levels on par with Ecuador, seismic social shifts are bound to occur. Jobless fathers tend not to be good fathers, if they remain in the family picture at all. Labor flight to cities leaves rural communities like Hillsdale County with decreasing populations. Automation makes it increasingly harder for anyone without a college degree to find work, which forces aspiring young workers to shackle themselves with debt in order to attend cesspools of progressive indoctrination. Yet, for some reason, questioning automation and technological advancement is a non-starter for conservatives because deep-seated ideological commitments to the free-market cloud the thinking of the conservative non-profit world. These talking heads are quick to point out that lower labor costs mean cheaper consumer goods. Conservatism today, for all practical purposes, is synonymous with consumerism: What is good for the consumer is good for the country.
The experience of a state like Michigan proves otherwise. The rising tide has lifted all boats, but some passengers have fallen seasick. As social scientist Charles Murray points out, crime, welfare dependency, illegitimacy, divorce, drug usage, and suicide have all skyrocketed among lower-class whites in recent decades. Income inequality — which Aristotle identifies as one of the chief dangers facing a political community — has increased dramatically and consequently sparked tensions which have led to renewed calls for socialism. American life expectancy has declined in recent years, and experts are saying America’s nationwide suicide epidemic could be the cause. Indeed, it is doubtful that anyone reading this piece does not know someone who has successfully or unsuccessfully attempted suicide. Unrestricted internet access has physically reshaped our brains, debased our social interactions, and left millions with pornography addictions. Obesity is ubiquitous, thanks in large part to low-price, low-quality food. Churches are shutting their doors for good as each generation of Americans grows less religious than their fathers. Our academic institutions no longer seek to inculcate virtue; their only goal is to create marketable alumni. These social ills have multiple causes, to be sure. But conservatives seem unwilling to consider profit-seeking corporations as suspects in the case at all. Caesar’s wife is above suspicion.
This is where Andrew Yang comes in. If his campaign does nothing else but start a conversation, it will have been a massive success. Can America survive as a nation, in a meaningful sense of that word, without addressing the social ramifications of automation? We have seen what globalism has done. GDP has increased, unemployment, deceitfully defined, hovers at manageable levels, and the NASDAQ shatters records every day. Meanwhile, Americans lose their jobs and towns are hollowed out before drugs, crime, and fatherlessness sweep in. Automation promises to maintain this status quo: profits for shareholders and losses for flyovers. Andrew Yang wants to shake things up. In 2016, America faced a Flight 93 Election. Now that we have the cockpit, let’s not make the mistake of putting the plane on autopilot.
Teddy Birkofer is a junior studying Philosophy and Religion.