The most pressing issues to the majority of candidates — both Democratic and Republican — involve massive reform of gun control, systemic racism, immigration, healthcare, big pharma, student loans and LGBTQ+, disability and indigenous rights. The most recent debates have made an unapologetic departure from the traditional President Hoover’s “chicken in every pot” narrative establishment centrists used to stand by, and it is about damn time.
This modern approach to politics encourages a much more comprehensive conversation than what debate stages saw in the preceding decades. For the first time in United States history, mainstream presidential candidates are publically having informed discourse on minority rights and radical economic overhaul; the implication of open speech regarding these subjects seems to be an acceptance and normalization of social justice. The Democratic presidential candidates are literally clamoring over each other to prove their ability to speak Spanish. They, like corporations, appropriate and profit off of the American minority — a minority that will, in only a few years, become the majority.
We cannot let this development in liberal thought and consideration for our fellow man stop at contemplative rhetoric. Humanity must push further.
It is ironic that as much as we claim to care about environmentalism, minority rights and gun control, we — politicians, activists, constituents — are doing next to nothing to consider these issues in the context of the modern world.
Politicians have to work harder, to not only cerebrally make up for their past, but to use what they have learned from outspoken advocates to plan for America’s increasingly technology-dependent future. Minimum wage paying jobs are constantly becoming computerized; factory workers are being replaced by time and money-efficient robots that, of course, do not unionize; higher education is readily available online; machine guns are becoming more productive at killing; war is becoming easier, more nuclear and more deadly; the vast expanse of social media is being corporatized and our information is being sold to support the capitalist machine. Beyond these more immediate effects, the praised innovation of man is depleting the world’s resources and making the planet less and less hospitable for all living organisms, not just humankind.
How do we reconfigure capitalism and international trade in the context of not only the industrial revolution — which humanity is still reeling from — but the ongoing technological revolution? How will the oppressive governmental and societal systems currently in place translate into the digital world? Are immigrants really taking jobs — or is it automation? What is going to happen when people figure out how to 3-D print AK-47s?
While topical dialogue is becoming more and more inclusive to cultural criticism and many politicians are becoming better-versed in intersectionality, this progress is nowhere near infallible. We are walking a delicate balance between national consciousness and complacency. The one candidate even attempting to resolve progressive issues through a technological lens is regarded as a joke.
We are going to regret not taking Andrew Yang, among other “fringe” candidates focused on the future of technology, seriously.
Technology’s massive impact on our social, political, cultural and artistic lives — in addition to our physical life presence as organisms on planet earth — is anything but fringe. As the boundary between virtual reality and reality becomes blurred, our leaders are finally acknowledging the injustices minorities and activists have literally been dying to expose for years.
We cannot lose our humanity, in any sense of the word. It is in our very nature to focus on the short-term, but we have to evolve further. This is dire.
As students at one of the most prestigious liberal arts colleges in the nation, it is our duty as good people to learn as much as we can about the world around us — and share this information with the people who do not have access to the same. Those of us with the privilege to spend time reflecting on these issues, with the access to relevant courses and the networking and the wide-reaching platforms:
Let’s rewrite the conversation about social justice within the context of humanity’s future, not only its past. Let’s stretch our studies past contemplation and invent tangible solutions to modern, technology-complicated problems.