Let me start by saying that Andrew Yang has some really good ideas. He made support of a Guaranteed Basic Income (GBI) a cornerstone of the 2020 Presidential Campaign. CIVPAC also supports a GBI. His new political party, the Forward Party, also supports a number of ideas that CIVPAC supports with respect to voting rights and reforms such as ranked-choice voting, open primaries, and non-partisan redistricting commissions. If I knew nothing else, and there was a three way tie in the polls between a Democrat, a Republican, and a Forward Party candidate for the House or Senate, I think I’d vote for the Forward Party candidate.
Having said that, there is a populist tinge to the Forward Party Platform that makes me a bit uncomfortable.
They make a good point that GDP is a less than complete measure of economic progress. They suggest a number of other measures that are important, but there is nothing wrong with paying attention to GDP as a simple measure of a society’s ability to provide all those other things that the Forward Party cares about, like child care and health care and clean water. There is no conflict in paying attention to all of these measures, but GDP is a simple and important one.
The Forward Party also seems to focus too much on term limits, public funding for elections, and direct democracy. There are reasons why America has a constitutional, representative democracy with various checks and balances to prevent the popular sentiment of the moment from evolving into unwise policy decisions. Yes, this can result in governmental paralysis, but it can also save us from some pretty stupid actions. Efficient direct democracies can be expected to trample on minority rights and to confiscate wealth and income to the point of impoverishing everyone.
I will be adding the Forward Party to the list of centrist organizations on the home page of CIVPAC. It may lean a little center-left/populist at the moment, but some of the others lean a bit center-right. In any case, the Forward Party and Andrew Yang deserve thoughtful consideration.