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Andrew Yang on why we should be scared about the 2024 election

Andrew Yang’s new book, “The Last Election,” marks the politician’s first foray into fiction.

The political thriller, set on the 2024 presidential campaign trail, serves as a dire warning about where our country could be headed without meaningful electoral reform.

Yang turned his attention to electoral dysfunction after throwing his hat in the ring for the 2020 presidential election and again in the 2022 New York City mayoral race.

In 2021, he co-founded Forward, a political party that aims to fight partisanship and promote electoral reform.

For his fourth book, he teamed up with novelist Stephen Marche as a co-author. Yang spoke with The Post about “The Last Election”:

What was the inspiration to write another book — and to go down the fiction route?

We’re looking to answer the question, “What would happen in real life if there was a strong independent presidential candidate?” And we presented in the form of a political thriller.

“The hope is we reach people who love stories but might not read op-eds,” says Yang of writing his political thriller.
AFP via Getty Images

I wanted to paint a picture of some of the challenges American democracy will experience in the not-so-distant future, and I thought that a story would be the most compelling and engaging way to do so.

The hope is we reach people who love stories but might not read op-eds.

How overtly is this book — and its ominous title — a warning about where you see the country heading?

Oh, it’s real. I mean, most of the things in the book are happening in real time. Unfortunately, we shouldn’t be taking our elections for granted. 

Our world is changing very, very quickly, and institutions are eroding and even crumbling before our eyes. Americans’ faith in parties and our current system is diminishing.

Unfortunately, most people who are in the system are wrapped up in their roles within that system, and there isn’t enough energy being put towards trying to modernize it.

KEENE, NEW HAMPSHIRE - FEBRUARY 11: Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang take a photo with supporters who are holding campaign signs in front of a polling station on February 11, 2020 in Keene, New Hampshire. New Hampshire holds its first in the nation primary today. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Yang predicts that the 2024 election cycle will be known as the first cycle with deep-fake videos.
Getty Images

So, what comes next? The danger is that the next stage is something none of us really wants to see — and I think that is the path that we’re on.

I was at a conference a little while ago and a woman said, “How come it feels like we’re on a ride that we know ends poorly, but no one can do anything about it?” I have a feeling that millions of Americans feel that way.

At this point two-thirds of Americans are concerned that our democracy isn’t functioning very well and are wondering what lies ahead. Some people think, “Oh, it’s OK, we’ll just keep on creaking and trudging forward.” But at some point something is going to give, and I think that it could give as early as 2024.

One theme in the book is technology and the way it interacts with elections. Do you think artificial intelligence and deep-fakes are going to impact this next cycle?

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 14:  New York City Mayoral candidate Andrew Yang screams as he prepares to speak at a press conference on January 14, 2021 in New York City. Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang announced his candidacy for Mayor of New York City. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
“One reason why so many Americans are frustrated right now is that the Biden-Trump rematch is likely what we’re going to get, even though it defies common sense and what most people want,” says Yang.
Getty Images

It’s going to happen. This cycle 2024 will be known as the first cycle where we had deep-fake videos.

We’ve already seen major campaigns and candidates use AI-generated images and videos, and there wasn’t much of a cost associated with that. People are going to use these tools. Unfortunately, some of it is going to be really destructive.

In an ideal world, we’d already have a dedicated agency for AI which would give campaigns very, very clear guidance. But right now we don’t have any of that. It’s a little bit of a Wild West environment.

Andrew Yang, founder of Venture for America and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, speaks during a campaign rally in Burlington, Iowa, U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. Iowa remains up for grabs with nearly half of voters saying they could change their minds five days before the Feb. 3 caucuses, according to a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
“On the face of it, it’s ridiculous that you have these two choices in a country of 330 million people. It doesn’t make much sense, but it does make sense within the context of our two party system.”
Bloomberg via Getty Images

What’s the number one takeaway you hope readers will walk away with?

What I hope readers ask themselves is, “Wow, could this happen?” And, when you break it down, you realize not only could this happen, but it will happen if we don’t change things in time.

Polls show the majority of voters don’t want Trump and Biden to run again. How concerned are you about the prospect that we’ll end up with a rematch despite popular sentiment?

One reason why so many Americans are frustrated right now is that the Biden-Trump rematch is likely what we’re going to get, even though it defies common sense and what most people want.

On the face of it, it’s ridiculous that you have these two choices in a country of 330 million people. It doesn’t make much sense, but it does make sense within the context of our two party system.

But I think that the field for 2024 is still being shaped. I’m someone who remains optimistic that we still might end up with choices that we’re excited about.

The Last Election by Andrew Yang and Stephen Marche
“The Last Election” is Yang’s fourth book and first work of fiction.

What can we do to make sure our next election isn’t our last election?

People should be able to vote for whomever they want, without there being any negative effects. The best way to do that is via rank choice voting. Getting rid of party primaries would also give more people a real voice, as opposed to just primary voters who right now tend to be on the extremes.

A lot of the problems that we’re going to experience at a national level are because we have a political system that doesn’t actually represent most of us. A lot of us are checked out on politics because there’s not a real competition where we live, and that’s what we have to change.

If we change that, then we might actually have a couple of choices we’re excited about as opposed to holding our nose and choosing the lesser of two evils. Americans around the country should not accept what they’re being offered. 

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