We’re going to get through this, the politicians say. We’ll be stronger than ever, better than ever.
Except maybe we won’t. More than 50,000 Americans are already dead of the coronavirus. That sinking feeling you’ve probably had at some point during the past few weeks? Andrew Yang’s had that feeling for a while. He still sees the world through his cut-the-crap fatalism. (“We have to deal with the world as it is,” he told me last summer, when the world didn’t look this bad). His main mode is a sad but, to him, honest sense that the world isn’t getting better right now, and that everyone needs to start dealing with the consequences. This belief was at the core of his weirdly successful presidential campaign.
Now, after a month and a half spent holed up in his house with his wife and two sons, Yang’s hair has gotten floppy. He’s watched people who need food wait on relief checks while major corporations score bailouts. He’s been reading stories of people who feel the economy crashing on them, who feel like no one cares. He thinks about his mother and his wife’s parents, and how they can’t be with their grandchildren.
“It’s inhuman,” Yang told me. He’s gotten dirty looks walking around in stores, he believes, because of racism sparked by the “Chinese virus” talk. He has struggled with how to respond. He’s one of the most prominent Asian Americans in politics, and came under fire for arguing that the appropriate response is for Asian Americans to be more explicit in showing off their patriotism.