Independents are now America's largest group of voters.
After George Bush's presidency, fewer people called themselves Republicans. After Obama's, fewer called themselves Democrats.
How will these independents vote?
Andrew Yang hopes they'll vote for him.
In my latest video, the former Democrat explains why he's started a new party, the Forward Party.
“Our country is polarized and getting worse all the time ... seeing each other as mortal enemies ... I'm committed to doing everything I can to help change it.”
He's written a book about that, “Forward.”
Compared with most politicians, Yang is refreshing. He opposes censoring people for what they say. “Saturday Night Live” fired a comedian after he called Yang a “Jew Chink.” Yang tells me, “I didn't think that was right ... he's a comedian. It's his job to push boundaries.”
Yang says other things presidential candidates don't say, like: “Running for president requires traits that make you a terrible leader. You make false promises (and) regularly claim powers you do not have.”
He cites worker retraining as an example. Governments keep funding expensive job training – the federal government alone has 43 retraining programs, but they almost never work. Many promise computer-coding jobs, but Yang points out, “If you actually go to a town that had the plant close, you find no one working as a coder. ... People walk out with valueless certificates and no job.”
Unfortunately, Yang's plan to help people, a universal basic income, may be even worse.
Yang would simply give every adult $1,000 a month. But the United States is already going bankrupt, and a UBI would give more of your tax money even to people who don't need it.
Yang's UBI wouldn't even replace existing welfare programs (Charles Murray's proposal), so a drug user could just snort up $1,000 and apply for more handouts. His plan would encourage lazy people to stay lazy. People like me, when I was young.
I say to Yang, “I wouldn't have overcome my stuttering and worked as hard as I did if I had free money. Not having it ... drove me.”
“I'm a data guy,” he replies, claiming more people would start businesses. “If you have that fallback, it makes you more likely to take a risk.”
But at what cost? Already, we see an effect of government's reckless stimulus handouts: inflation is the highest in 40 years. Yang's UBI would give away four times that every year.
A better Forward Party proposal is automatic tax filing.
“We waste so much time figuring out our taxes,” Yang complains. “It's stupid.”
True. In some countries, government just sends you a bill or refund. You can dispute the results, but if you don't, you can file taxes in less than a minute.
The reason the USA does not have automatic filing, says Yang, is because “Intuit is making too much money off TurboTax. It lobbied (actually, H&R Block and others lobbied, too) and said, no, no, no! (You) can't do it automatically!”
Yang says other sensible things that Democratic politicians rarely say. During the heat of last year's anti-police anger, activists screamed at him because he opposed defunding the police. He stood his ground.
Yang's run businesses, so he doesn't say stupid anti-capitalist things.
But often, he acts like a typical politician. At the Democratic National Convention, he gushed over Biden and Harris. “You're just sucking up!” I tell him.
“I was willing to do or say whatever I thought would help get Trump out,” Yang replies.
“Trump was erratic,” says Yang, “not leading in a positive direction.”
I'm glad Yang is around, with a new party. More choices are a good thing. Yang is a decent man who brings up some fresh ideas.
Unfortunately, many of Yang's ideas are bad.
He calls climate change an “existential threat.” He wants every gun owner to re-register every five years. He wants to ban assault weapons but can't define them. He promotes government-funded journalism.
But at the end of our interview, we agreed about one thing:
“We can see very clearly the way our country is going,” Yang concludes. “We deserve better than this.”