Jonathan Herzog was not yet 25 years old when he joined Andrew Yang’s presidential effort as a campaign coordinator in Iowa. Now, he is run for congress himself.
Like the man he once represented, Herzog runs a campaign that stands out more for his enthusiasm than for his probability of success. Like Yang, he also attracts attention in the cryptosphere – most recently from Ethereum co-creator Vitalik Buterin and technologist E. Glen Weyl, who appeared on Herzog’s weekly podcast Digital dialectic on Monday to discuss the need to review our political, social and economic systems.
Weyl called Herzog “one of the most exciting candidates running this year … In these impossible times when our society is falling apart, [his] is the kind of leadership we need. ‘
Many of Herzog’s policy positions come from Yang’s own platform, and his campaign literature calls him “the new Crypto candidate.” Herzog wants to piggyback in particular Wyoming’s crypto-friendly laws just like the Token Taxonomy Act, now languish in Congress, to create national legislation clarifying the regulatory status of digital assets.
His politics are more left-wing than deep red Wyoming – both socially and fiscally. He supports universal health care, destroys the ban on military transgender people, and strives for net zero climate emissions within 30 years. But he finds a common cause among libertarians on a number of issues that have emerged in recent weeks. For example, he calls for an end to qualified immunity for law enforcement, the ban on non-knock warrants and an end to mass incarceration.
Right now, the United States is in what may feel like a revolutionary moment for some when traditional policy ideas fail to please the public. Between COVID locks and the nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, people are looking for more than just ideas that fit the left-right spectrum. They rethink the whole system.
This provides an entry point for the protégé of Yang, a contemporary of Buterin and Weyl. The first created a decentralized blockchain that would involve deep-seated institutions and redirect power to users. The latter is an academic proposed a radical overhaul of people’s relationships with property and political representation.
Buterin, seen on Zoom in front of an empty wine rack and with a fresh haircut (t-shirt not visible), opened up talking about how everyone can work together without being checked by settings. “There is a known problem and this known risk that if you create some sort of large network for people to work together and this network is controlled by a single actor, then that one actor can do a lot of annoying things with that control,” said Buterin, who went on to talk about monopolies and abuse of power.
Weyl spoke of people’s mistrust of institutions to protect their interests, pointing out that top-down systems are struggling to shift power down. “On the other hand,” he said, “there is a very clear acknowledgment that the challenges we face more than ever during the time of COVID are collective, not individual, and that if we all try to protect ourselves instead of some to protect the public’s understanding, it’s like trying to replace the military with a bunch of bodyguards guarding individual buildings. “
But reconciling those two problems is not as simple as pressing a button and creating a world computer. It is an iterative process that we are in the middle of.
Weyl said, “The American republic did not come from a revolution in the standard sense. It came from a much more powerful phenomenon, namely the spreading of ideas, people who live up to these ideas and over time as the ideas were lived, those ideas were formalized at higher levels and replacing existing forms of authority. “
At this point, Herzog will likely have to rely on spreading ideas through his podcasts and advocacy rather than congress halls. To get there, he would have to take out the incumbent first Jerry Nadler in the Democratic primaries of June 23 – not to mention the better-funded challenger in second place Lindsey Boylan. However, if he wins, he would likely face an easy road to Congress in the US general election heavy blue 10th district, which includes Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Even if Herzog falls short, which is likely, the campaign – and the spotlight it gives for out-of-the-box ideas – is just a sign of things to come. Andrew Yang is said to be is considering a run with the Mayor of New York City when Bill de Blasio’s term ends next year. Weyl is working on quadratic financing. And, hey, have you heard of this thing called Ethereum going to decentralize everything?
Herzog has. And there are more political candidates like him.