Following his rise in national and Iowa polling, Andrew Yang made an appearance in Northwest Iowa with the pitch he’s been making all summer.
Soon, machines and artificial intelligence will be doing the jobs currently held by the majority of Americans, Yang argued. To take care of the displaced workers, the country needs to adopt the Freedom Dividend, which would give every American $1,000 a month.
That’s by design.
“I think the message is just more powerful and picking up steam,” Yang said. “Anyone who’s been keeping up with my campaign knows that it’s been very consistent from day one. And more people are discovering us all the time.”
Yang was at the Harry Hopkins Democratic Dinner and Celebration in Sioux City, Iowa on Saturday. There, he told the audience that Donald Trump got so many votes in 2016 because of automation.
“There’s a straight line up between the adoption of industrial automation and the movement toward Donald Trump,” he said onstage. Then he asked the audience why storefronts across their communities are closing. After a pause, a few members provided the one-word answer: Amazon.
Before he took the stage, Yang said he thinks his message particularly resonates with the Northwest part of the state.
“I think here in Northwest Iowa, there is an even higher understanding of some of these economic issues because people have seen stores getting boarded up and communities here have been struggling with different aspects of the transforming economy,” he said.
In several small towns in the area, grocery stores have closed and family-owned restaurants have gone out of business.
Yang said his Freedom Dividend is the answer because it will put resources into rural economies and stop population drain from small towns.
“It would give rural areas in particular a real path forward and give kids who grow up in rural areas reason to stay,” he said. “They wouldn’t have to leave in order to seek greener pastures and better opportunities.”
Before he spoke, Yang also brought up his favorability among Trump voters.
“The number one criteria that Democratic caucus-goers have for the nominee is who will beat Donald Trump in 2020,” Yang said. “According to the polls, I am one of only two candidates in the field that 10 percent or more of Donald Trump voters say they will support.”
The Democratic audience Yang had in Sioux City was receptive to the message, at least.
“I think he’s very, very good,” said Barb Redmond. “I think he’s got a lot of business sense.”
She said she hadn’t heard of Yang before Saturday, and his remarks inspired her to learn more about him. She said she can see him being on her list of candidates.
Sue Mullin said she doesn’t see Yang as a president, but she hopes his message about the future of the workforce influences the way other candidates think about this issue.
“I love Andrew Yang,” she said. “He’s absolutely wonderful, I love his ideas. And he’s the only one talking about where jobs are going.”
Though Mullin said she wouldn’t be caucusing for Yang, she hopes that he does something to make his ideas a reality.
Yang was one of three candidates who spoke in person at the Sioux City event. He said they committed to being there a long time ago, but he also appreciates every opportunity to talk to Iowans.
“I enjoy being in Iowa every time because this is one of the only places where democracy actually works as intended, where people’s votes matter, where you can flush out the pipes of corporate money that are overtaking our democracy,” he said.
by Nikoel Hytrek
Photo by Julie Fleming