Des Moines, Iowa — Even as he warns that the Robot Apocalypse is rapidly descending upon us, Andrew Yang wants his fellow Americans to know that it’s still okay to laugh.
While speaking to voters in the rural Iowa town of Grundy Center on Friday, Yang painted a bleak picture, arguing that Donald Trump is not the cause of America’s problems, but the symptom of an economy that has left too many working-class Americans behind. TOP ARTICLES4/5READ MORETHE BALTIMORE RAVENS FELL SHORT OF THE SUPER BOWL, BUT THEIR NFL ANALYTICS REVOLUTION IS JUST BEGINNING
“The numbers tell a very clear and direct story,” he said. “We eliminated 4 million manufacturing jobs in the last several years in this country. And where were those jobs primarily located? Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Missouri, and 40,000 right here in Iowa. After those jobs dried up, the shopping center closed. People left. The school shrank, and that town has never recovered.”
What’s more, he argued, in the coming years, things will only get worse as robots eliminate the jobs of millions of American telemarketers, retail clerks, and truck drivers.
“How many of you all know a truck driver here in the state? It’s the most common job in 29 states: 3 1/2 million truckers, 94 percent men, average age 49. My friends in California are working on trucks that can drive themselves. They tell me they’re 98 percent of the way there,” Yang says. “A robot truck just transported 20 tons of butter from California to Pennsylvania last month with no human intervention.”
While Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren spend a fair amount of time denouncing Trump, Yang takes care to emphasize the need to win over those who voted for Trump in 2016.
“I don’t want to put anyone on the spot here, but if you’re willing to share, how many people here in this room voted for Donald Trump?” Yang asked a crowd in Des Moines on Saturday night. A few attendees raised their hands. “Let’s give them a round of applause,” he said.11
It’s not clear how much longer Yang will be in the Democratic primary. He is polling at 3.3 percent in the RealClearPolitics average of Iowa polls, despite the incredible enthusiasm of his supporters. Though only 50 people showed up at Grundy Center on Friday afternoon, he drew a crowd of 1,200 in Des Moines on Saturday night, and a large percentage of those who arrived too late to get in were wearing the Yang Gang’s signature blue hats, emblazoned with the word “math.” Few of those waiting in line were even willing to entertain the notion of getting behind a second choice if Yang proved not to be viable at their caucus location.
However long his campaign lasts, though, it’s fair to say that American politics would be better were more politicians from both parties to emulate Yang’s style, if not his policy proposals.
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