There’s nothing moderate about Andrew Yang
Andrew Yang, a complete unknown who threw himself into the presidential race in 2019, where he quickly flamed out, and who then lost in the Democrat primary for New York mayor, is back again. Since the Democrat party is not fulfilling his political ambitions, he abandoned it and announced, instead, that he’s starting his own party: The Forward Party. The motto is “Not Left. Not Right. Forward.” I’d rewrite that motto: “Not Right. Sort of Left. Stupid.” I say that based upon his “platform,” which is truly awful.
The top item on his new party’s home page is “Ranked-Choice Voting and Open Primaries.” Both are horrific ideas.
As a practical matter, ranked-choice voting is a failure because it’s so complicated. You don’t vote for your candidate. Instead, you look at all the candidates and assign numbers to them.
So, if the candidates are Angela, Bob, Carol, and David and you really like Carol, you don’t just vote for Carol. Instead, you must rank them in order of preference: Carol, Bob, David, Angela.
If someone doesn’t get a majority, the person with the fewest votes gets booted from the vote count and all the people who had that person as their first choice, have their votes transferred to their second choice. (Are you still with me?) This keeps going until someone finally gets a winning vote—and voters might discover that their least favorite candidate got their vote. So my votes, rather than helping Carol, may have been used to elect Angela.
Ultimately, under ranked-choice voting, there’s never a clear majority winner. There’s just someone who managed to slog through all the constant reallocations of various rankings from hundreds of thousands of voters. In the 2010 Australian house election, ranked-choice voting gave the victory to the Labor Party even though the Liberal-National coalition got the majority of first-place votes. Crazy, right?
Open primaries are an even worse idea. The point of primaries is so that people with very specific values have a chance to pick the candidate who best represents those values in November when the nation as a whole starts paying attention to elections. Thus, Republicans pick their strongest candidate; Democrats pick theirs; Green Partiers pick theirs; and so on. In November, these party champions duke it out for the final victory.
With open primaries, though, people who share specific values don’t get to pick their champion. Instead, the primary is just a pre-election with the two top candidates facing each other in a final election in November. In California, this has meant that Republicans are completely shut out. Their preferred candidates never get to be part of the big candidate debates in October and November. Their ideas are never heard. It’s vile and anti-democratic.
Then there’s Yang’s fondness for a Universal Basic Income. This is when I realized that behind his smug “I’m Asian, therefore I’m smart” persona, Yang probably isn’t that smart. Universal Basic Income is simply an inflation driver. Spreading a thin layer of unearned money across the entire economy just drives up prices as the market adjusts to an influx of money.
Finland, a small, relatively homogeneous country in which Universal Basic Income might have had a chance to work, abandoned the idea as a failure. It won’t go any better in America, which is economically, geographically, and culturally larger and more diverse than Finland. Yang’s devotion to a big-government, technocratic idea that’s stupid on its face and a failure in practice does not reflect well on him.
Yang also wants something called “fact-based governance,” with “legislation [being] judged on outcomes, not ideologies.” This is just a reframing of the Democrats’ ludicrous claim that “we’re the party of science,” even as they deny that fetuses are human beings and insist that anthropogenic climate change is real, despite 50 years of failed predictions. (Yang, incidentally, is all in on both abortion and the promise that government solutions will save us from this imaginary anthropogenic climate change.) The reality is that ideologies inevitably underlie governance, including “utilitarian” ideologies.
Think about it: Some things are very efficient—they definitely work to achieve benefits for the majority of people—but they are utterly immoral. One could argue that it would be great for America’s safety if we went full Nazi and cleaned out every inner-city ghetto, liquidating the residents. Magically, crime in cities like Chicago would vanish. It’s also an utterly immoral, indecent, shameful idea because it’s predicated on a foul ideology of utilitarianism without morals.
Then there’s the idea of Democracy dollars, which is nothing more than a $100 tax rebate to all Americans, whether they pay taxes or not.
Ultimately, Yang is a technocrat. He believes in better governance through technology. He doesn’t understand basic economics. And he believes that government is always the answer, only he will do it better.
Yang’s wrong. The true answer to good government is John O’Sullivan’s 1837 prescription: “That government is best which governs least.” Everything Yang wants requires more government and more taxes. He’s just promising to do it better than our current politicians. Don’t believe him.
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