Prospective Presidential Candidates

Andrew Yang PPC #2

This is a lightly edited for grammar and phrasing re-posting of my Feb 2 reaction to Andrew Yang. Below this I’ve added some more of my response to this candidate based on seeing him a second time and following him closely since.

I think I’ve found my candidate for 2020.  Andrew Yang struck me as deliberately not an ideological candidate.  That is, unlike most politicians who seem to be motivated by something that feels unfair about their personal circumstance, or the circumstance of a particular ideological constituency, Andrew Yang struck me as someone motivated by problems, and a search for ways to address those problems.  I find this to be hugely refreshing. 

He seems to be asking the question: “What if a presidential candidate, rather than piecing together a winning coalition by supporting a set of policies that achieves a grand total of 50%+ of support across a set of special interest groups, a presidential candidate observes the primary ailments affecting the nation at this moment and focuses on those?”  I hope the answer is that it is a winning approach.

I was very impressed with his command of facts and that he actually uses them to select policies. For example, when discussing health care, he was rattling off the % of GDP spent on health care, how much that is in $, the comparison to other nations, etc. and clearly used those facts in his selection of suggested policy.

I asked my go to question, “How do you make decisions, and how will you advise your administration to make decisions?”  I didn’t get the response I was hoping for, but I’m doubtful I ever will from a politician, and he took my question in a bit different direction than I intended.  His response was more about management style that decision-making process.  On the plus side, his management style sounds like it is a good one.  He has run many businesses and organizations and seems to run them in manner that gives a great deal of space for his colleagues to bring their ideas and insights to the table, while developing a clear set of expectations for behavior that is inappropriate for the organization.

Also, while he didn’t really answer the question about decision making when I asked, it was clear from his presentation and other responses that he is an individual that is problem focused and seeks solutions that are based on evidence.  He called himself a “numbers guy”, and I concur with his self-assessment.  His call for a “freedom dividend”, i.e., a $1,000 a month universal basic income isn’t based on some ideological belief that it is what people deserve, or a fair redistribution of wealth (although those are things that can also be said to be true, my words).  His call comes from the fact that as a nation we are facing an incoming dilemma that up to 50% of jobs in this country are jobs that could be replaced by automation in the near future, likely the next president’s term.  The benefits from that automation in our current economic system will likely break the country.  Life expectancy is down for the last 3 years, suicide rate and opioid death rate are up, and wages are stagnant.  Take away the jobs held by truckers, call center employees, retail, and other AI based roles and what will happen to those rates.  Yang notes that the typical response to this is job retraining programs.  A good idea sure, but the success rate of those programs is ~15% at best, 0% at worst.  Thus, a freedom dividend.  Grant the benefits of improved economic efficiency to the people of this nation, and maintain a functioning nation, because that’s what will work.

Andrew Yang has many more stops in NH this week, and beyond I’m sure, if you want to check him out.  I intend to see him again in Exeter on Friday to try asking my decision-making question again, but worded differently I guess.

New comments: I did see Andrew Yang a second time in Exeter, NH 3 days after my first interaction with him. This time I focused more on the audience reactions. He is going to have to overcome some skepticism based on his lack of name recognition, and people viewing him as an idea or platform candidate rather than a serious candidate for the nomination. In particular, I overheard a conversation after the event in which individuals were hoping Andrew Yang decides to run for Senate of the like after he losses. I let them know, that given his choice he would prefer to a appointed Secretary of Technology, a hopefully to be created cabinet post.

I didn’t explicitly ask my decision making question again, because since my first time meeting him I’d visited his website, and discovered that each of his policy proposals is laid out using a problem statement, goals, and guiding principles section, quite similar to the structured decision making approach. So rather than ask a redundant question I told him how excited I was about his policy development approach, and I hope he goes far. He commented that it is nice to have more decision analysts on board.

Summary: Andrew Yang is not just my favored candidate, his is my favorite politician I have ever interacted with. Even if he doesn’t have the political experience that others have, I think he has an eye for and an approach to policy making that is very lacking in others. He also doesn’t seem so arrogant to think he should do it himself and seems like he will surround himself with good help.

Ranking of those I’ve meet so far:

  • Tier 1: Andrew Yang
  • Tier 2: Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders*
  • Kamala Harris
  • Tier 3: Cory Booker
  • Tier 4: Tulsi Gabbard
  • Tier 5: tbd
  • Tier Nope: tbd
  • *(Based on past meetings, not 2020 events, and w/o the decision-making question response)

Expected distribution of candidates is:

  • Tier 1: 1 or 2
  • Tier 2: ~3
  • Tier 3: ~1/4 of remaining
  • Tier 4: ~1/4 of remaining
  • Tier 5: ~1/4 of remaining
  • Tier Nope: ~1/4 of remaining
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