Reader’s Forum — Dr. Jessie Fields

Everything You Want to Know About Andrew Yang & the Forward Party
*But the Pundits, Politicians and Parties Hope You Won’t Ask
A Virtual Discussion Hosted by Politics for the People and Open Primaries
Wednesday, January 12th at 3pm EDT
Register here today!

Notes on Forward, a book by Andrew Yang

Dr. Jessie Fields

Political innovators outside of the two party political system working to break it open, who give voice to the experience of ordinary people and seek to transform politics on behalf of those people are vitally needed in our country today. Andrew Yang is one such innovator. His book Forward: Notes on the Future of Our Democracy is a book of clear reflections that is divided into three parts: the first part is experiences and insights from his presidential campaign, the second is on the interrelated problems facing the country and the third is all about solutions.

Essential questions about our country are raised in the introduction, “Democracy by a Thread:”

How did it come to this?

What happened to our belief in the future?

And, most important, what can we do about it?

We read again of the failed and woefully inadequate government response to the pandemic while simultaneously steeped in levels of crisis of the latest surge of the latest Coronavirus variant now spreading in the United States and around the world, ongoing economic and climate devastation, police brutality and racial inequality. It is strangely steadying to stay with this book which interconnects all these and gives direction and hope for what can be done.

A central theme of Yang’s on which he ran for president is the “ongoing dehumanization of our economy” against which he has been a stalwart promoting and implementing trials of universal basic income.

He writes,

We have allowed our economy to become punitive and inhuman for millions of Americans. The pandemic and its aftermath have made it more inhuman still.”

American workers have not shared in the gains of the high tech economy, while vast fortunes have been built.

The ratio of CEO-to-worker pay rose from 20 to 1 in 1965 to 271 to 1 in 2016.”

Many are working long hours and multiple jobs to survive.

As I see it, the ongoing inhuman economy started way before automation and way before the pandemic, even before 1619. Many writers such as Princeton University professor Matthew Desmond trace our nation’s peculiarly brutal version of capitalism to slavery.

Andrew Yang has pushed for universal basic income and a human-centered economy. As he points out in the book, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called for a guaranteed minimum income. Speaking in 1967 in his address to the convention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Atlanta Dr. King said,

We must create full employment, or we must create incomes. People must be made consumers by one method or the other….Now our country can do this. John Kenneth Galbraith said that a guaranteed annual income could be done for about twenty billion dollars a year. And I say to you today, that if our nation can spend thirty-five billion dollars a year to fight an unjust, evil war in Vietnam, and twenty billion dollars to put a man on the moon, it can spend billions of dollars to put God’s children on their own two feet right here on earth.”

Unfortunately there is a huge gap between what the American people need and policy a majority of Americans agree we should implement on the one hand, and the policies that emanate from our electoral and governmental systems on the other.

To begin to address this gap Yang promotes structural reforms of ranked choice voting and open primaries to enable dramatic new approaches. In response to decades of partisanship, failure and dysfunction more and more Americans have become independent voters who are not Democrats or Republicans. Enfranchising all voters including independents to participate equally in all elections including the pivotal primary elections is essential to transform policy to meet the real needs of the American people and to close the gap between the people and our government.

As I speak with patients and family members and weigh the risks and benefits of new Covid-19 treatments in patients with underlying medical conditions I long for us to create wholistic policies and practices in which all aspects including medical care, housing, education and economics are grounded in the health and well-being of people and communities. This is why I am an independent.

I look forward to the Politics for the People conversation with Andrew Yang on January 12.

Dr. Jessie Fields is a physician practicing in Harlem, and a Board member at Independent Voting and Open Primaries.


Join us Wednesday, January 12th
at 3pm EDT
For a Virtual Discussion
With Forward Author Andrew Yang
Sponsored by Politics for the People and Open Primaries


Founder of the Politics for the People free educational series and book club for independent voters. Chair of the New York County Independence Party.

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