The 2020 presidential election could feature the most crowded Democratic primary in decades, and President Donald Trump’s success as an outsider could embolden even more non traditional candidates to run.
Andrew Yang, a New York entrepreneur, is not a household name, but he's one of the early candidates making a play for the White House.
"One of my friends said the opposite of Donald Trump is a smart Asian guy who actually cares about facts and information," he said.
He’s now the first Asian American Democrat ever to run for the Oval Office. On Monday, he campaigned in Boston, trying to bring attention to automation and artificial intelligence, that’s already here in factories, retail, and expected to take over other industry’s like fast food and trucking.
"We’re going to automate away millions of American jobs," Yang said.
He believes businesses are not prepared for the rise of robots, and the potential social fallout.
"So if you think you can displace them with robot trucks and there will not be riots, you are actually fooling yourself," Yang said.
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
To avoid that, Yang is pushing the "Freedom Dividend," which would be $1,000 a month given to every American adult.
"If we provide a universal basic income, Americans will be able to go back to school, move for a new opportunity, start up their own business," Yang said in a campaign video.
Yang plans to fund that by taxing businesses benefitting the most from automation.
But Northeastern economist Barry Bluestone is a skeptic.
"It's pie in the sky, and we really don’t have the financial where withall in this country to do that," Bluestone said.
Yang, who is is 43 years old and married with two kids, and based in New York, has ties to New England, graduating from Phillips Exeter and Brown University.
Boston College professor Heather Cox Richardson said he does not have the name recognition right now.
"Andrew Yang is going to be a player, but I’m not convinced he’s going to be the Democratic standard bearer," Richardson said.
However, Richardson added that anything is possible.
"It is completely a free for all. The starting line is so muddy because of the chaos in Washington," says Richardson.