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Progressives call for change

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I have tried to stay away from talking about the elections and the Democratic nominees as much as I could. Then Andrew Yang dropped out, and I remembered that he was the only non-Bernie candidate I thought was okay, at best. Since then, Yang’s supporters, known as "Yang Gang," have taken on a slogan similar to “Bernie or Bust”, albeit on a way smaller scale.

“Still Voting Yang” is something I’ve heard a lot from the Yang Gang, and it has drawn the ire of many Democrats who kept hounding them with the central phrase of this election: “vote blue no matter who.” They emphasized that voting for Yang is voting for Trump and compared them to “sour” Bernie supporters in 2016 who also helped the Democrats “lose” that election (they didn't).

Now before I get into all that, I want to address Yang first. I can understand his appeal. His policies centered around “human-centered capitalism” are catchy. But “human-centered capitalism” is inherently an oxymoron. Capitalists’ top priority is their profits, and they only care about social costs when it gets them bad press. In many cases now, the bad press doesn’t even matter because they will make a profit anyway.

The other issue with Yang is that his policies are only a surface level fix for the fundamental failings of capitalism. His universal basic income plan is a great example of this. His goal is to use value-added taxes on corporations to then gain lots of revenue to give everyone $1,000 a month. It’s not a bad idea, but it operates under the myth of consumer sovereignty. Essentially, people will know the best choices to make with the $1,000 they get. But how is anyone supposed to know how to properly allocate their $1,000 in a reasonable manner so that they can adequately pay for their housing, insurance, consumption, transit, and many other costs?

$1,000 is also not much, especially for people living in areas where the cost of living is very expensive. People in New York, San Francisco, or Chicago will not benefit as much from $1,000 as someone in rural America. It’s a lot of taxpayer money spent on a plan that doesn’t do anything to address stagnant wages or rising healthcare costs among other things. Universal basic income is not that useful without taking those other costs out of the equation.

On the subject of healthcare, he supports the “spirit” of Medicare for All. Upon reading the policy, it’s better than the private with public option policy a lot of Democrats support, but it still doesn’t fix a lot. He wants to lower costs for drugs through price negotiations and pegging to other countries, which is good. But it doesn’t change the fact that private insurance is extremely costly, and his policy doesn’t say anything about guaranteeing affordable insurance. His position is one of compromise. There should be lower healthcare costs. However, Yang's plan allows people to keep their private insurance plans that they supposedly like, and taking that away is “unrealistic.”

That’s the root problem of a lot of things: compromise. Yang was ultimately the best of the compromise crowd. At least he had a few meaningful reforms, like criminal justice with rehabilitation programs and some semblance of a publicly funded election mechanism.

But Democrats are doing their hardest to be both the party of the people and the party of the elite. Because of this, they compromise and bring about policies that don’t work and get easily sabotaged by Republicans, such as the Affordable Care Act. Then Republicans get to point fingers and say: “look, the government doesn’t work.” The pendulum then swings back towards their favor.

That’s all I can think of when I hear the “vote blue no matter who” line so early on in the election timeline. It would be one thing if the primaries were over and we had a Democratic nominee. But every time someone like Klobuchar, Buttigieg, or Biden gets criticism for questionable policies and vague stances as a result of their corporate interest support, “vote blue no matter who” always gets thrown around. It’s especially used by establishment supporters to shut down progressives.

There is a reason why Yang voters want to vote for him in the primaries, even after he’s dropped out. I don’t think most of those people are saying they will write him in during the election, but they are using the primaries to indicate that they want some change from the norm, even if Yang only represents a compromised version of that change.

However, things aren’t going back to the way they were before. That status quo is what helped get Trump elected, so why not go for positive change where the working class is prioritized and healthcare, housing, transit, fair and free elections, the Internet, and many other things are fundamental rights? There is this strange resistance in the U.S. to change, fueled by the special interests of the corporate elite who have overemphasized their importance and perpetuated the myth that change is unrealistic and not stable.

It’s a shame the Democrat establishment is part of that. Michael Bloomberg, through millions of dollars of spending within the past few months, has managed to get himself to third place in some polls. If he becomes the nominee, progressives aren’t going to vote for him. What’s the point of “voting blue no matter who” when we’re just gonna vote for a richer re-skin of Donald Trump?

The whole point of why people are saying things like “Bernie or Bust” or “Still Voting Yang'' is to show that people aren’t going to just sit back and accept some mediocre establishment favorite who kowtows to corporate interests. Bernie supporters, in particular, don’t want faux progressives who continue to compromise their positions to appease the establishment. Is it unrealistic to ask for better?