As the Democratic Primary race diverges further leftward with every passing second, it seems odd that Andrew Yang, a dark-horse candidate known mostly for his “Freedom Dividend,” has drawn support and praise from some on the right. Yang is by no means a moderate. His Big 3 Policies of Human-Centered Capitalism, Medicare for All, and Universal Basic Income (UBI) could hardly be mistaken for conservative positions (though there are conservative arguments for UBI). Nevertheless, he is on the radar of many “Trump-skeptical” conservatives as being “the best of the worst” or even as a potentially viable alternative to Donald Trump.
One possible explanation for this phenomenon lies in Yang’s desire to actively solve “the problems that got Trump elected,” namely job loss due to increased competition. While Trump largely contends that competition from foreign countries is the biggest threat to displace American workers, Yang suggests that automation is the true culprit. His preferred example in assessing the risk posed by automation involves job loss for truck drivers, a concern shared by many conservatives as both technological advancement and overseas job outsourcing will soon eliminate a massive amount of jobs in America’s most common profession.
Problems like the above allow Yang to profess faith in UBI in a manner not unlike Donald Trump’s use of the wall in 2016. Yang holds that, if all Americans are gifted $12,000/year with no strings attached, then economic mobility will increase via a “trickle-up economy.” As still is the case with the wall, the jury remains out on the merits of UBI. Conservative economist Friederich Hayek and libertarian economist Milton Friedman both endorsed a form of it, but Yang’s proposition entails granting UBI in addition to our current welfare state at an additional cost of $2.4 trillion.
Such apparent fiscal irresponsibility is likely to give any conservative, fiscal or not, a pause due to sticker shock. As Jacob Dowell writes at FEE, the math in Yang’s solution is a bit misleading and does not add up to its estimated cost. Because many conservatives seem to have a natural aversion to expensive government-expanding programs, UBI and the content of Yang’s over 100 policy proposals are almost certainly not the reason he has garnered Republican support (though his plan to combat robocalls should entice all Americans).
Rather, Yang’s willingness to think critically and challenge his ideas draws supporters from all sides of the political spectrum who are looking for reasonability amid chaos. Yang genuinely comes across as an honest guy, which is why his presence in the Democratic Primary is so refreshing. In the midst of a race full of people like Trump, Biden, and Sanders, whose political philosophies are pretty much set in stone regardless of what the facts say, and people like Kamala, Beto, Booker, Inslee, and Gillibrand who change their stances on various issues at breakneck speeds, Yang seems like a normal guy. A normal guy might not be able to win the Democratic Primary or beat Trump in the general election, but Yang sure has been able to develop an almost cultish following in the process of trying.
Appearances on popular podcasts such as The Ben Shapiro Show and The Joe Rogan Experience have significantly boosted his name recognition (around 5 million views combined on YouTube alone). Additionally, by appearing on channels his competitors would normally avoid, Yang reserved the ability to put his best foot forward with independents and conservatives who normally learn about Democratic candidates through various profiles or smear campaigns in the news. While conservatives may disagree with him on a multitude of issues, the witty and charismatic persona has helped him develop a rabid fanbase on Twitter and Reddit, where supporters who do MATH (Make America Think Harder) memorabilia have dubbed themselves the #YangGang. His prognosis that he is the opposite of Donald Trump because he is “an Asian man who likes math” strikes me as genuinely funny.
Although Yang is fundamentally running a campaign reminiscent of Trump’s as a problem-solving, longshot outsider, his likability and charisma are refreshing to those tired of the ridiculous rhetoric coming from both sides of the aisle. He represents the ultimate antithesis to our current political state: a calm and collected man who looks to solve problems with more technology rather than undo the problems existing technology has created. While his political philosophy might not line up with conservative or classical liberal thought, Andrew Yang represents the best of our current political discourse and is well worth keeping an eye on heading into 2020!
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.