• Jacob Borsting

Amidst Pandemic One Thing Clear: Andrew Yang Should Have Been The Democratic Nominee

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Throughout the 2020 Democratic primaries, I grappled with a frustration many fellow Andrew Yang supporters may have felt - friends, family, and colleagues not taking Candidate Yang seriously. Rarely was it a bad reaction when I made the pitch to fellow voters regarding his 'Humanity First' platform principled around a universal basic income, medicare for all, and practical approach to addressing climate change. Most instances, people from both the left and the right seemed to think Yang was one of the better Democratic candidates, with both unique ideas and a unifying message. That being said, they wrote him off either for his political inexperience, age, allegedly 'far-fetched' policies, or a combination of the three.

Now just months after Yang's withdrawal from the 2020 race, his 'far fetched' policies have become passed bipartisan legislation. The first round of $1200 stimulus checks sent directly to Americans drew comparisons to Yang's 'freedom dividend'. Now, Republicans are pushing even more direct payments - larger than the first. Crisis aside, it is pretty remarkable that the many who laughed off Yang's suggestion have been the same who rushed to implement it.

Those who have passed said stimulus packages but opposed Yang's 'freedom dividend' proposal will use the pandemic as their reasoning. They'll say that tough times call for tough measures. But this health crisis is only showing the cracks in the system Yang tried to warn us about. Time and time again - Yang stressed how most Americans couldn't afford a surprise $500 expense, the fragility of the U.S. retail market, and a looming job market destroyed by automation. Now, in the midst of an economic downturn, we see a plethora of Americans behind on mortgage payments and out of work - with many no longer having a job to return to.

The national shutdowns due to coronavirus have pushed the decline of major American retailers into warp speed. Already during this pandemic, corporations employing tens of thousands of Americans such as Brooks Brothers, J.C. Penney, and Acsena Retail Group (owner of Justice, Lane Bryant, etc.) have filed for bankruptcy. Many of these jobs won't return. Not to mention the thousands of restaurants both locally owned and corporately managed that have gone under since the pandemic began. Trends in consumer taste suggest these jobs won't come back as well. The drastic change in the landscape to America's job market was something Yang warned would occur over the course of several years, but no one expected this much this fast.

If we could go back in time to that first Democratic Debate in late June last year and warn everyone of the oncoming economic and health crisis the country would soon face, I wonder if the outcome would have been different. I don't care what anyone tells you - morale is low in the Democratic party. For the second election cycle in a row, we Democrats are once again stuck with a really mediocre candidate. I find it difficult to believe Joe Biden is more prepared than Andrew Yang to face the challenges our country now faces. Joe Biden certainly lacks no qualifications for the job. But a sharp mind ready to think outside the box to tackle big challenging issues, I'm not so sure.

Nevertheless, don't take this article as a 'don't vote for Biden' - it is far from it. For every downside to Biden, there are ten downsides to Trump. That being said, there is no reason for the Democratic party not to express regret. No one took the 'Yang Gang' seriously enough for whatever reason and now it is too late. Luckily, it's been reported Biden is in close contact with former candidate Yang. With any luck, Andrew's voice will be a prominent one within a future Biden administration.

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