Kanye for President?
Kanye West is eccentric, unpredictable, and undeniably interesting - all the markers of a compelling artist, businessman, and fashion designer. However, his recent Twitter announcement on running for president of the United States has spectators across the world questioning how these traits will translate into politics.
Though West had previously announced his plan to run for office at the MTV Music Awards in 2015, his eleven-minute speech was taken with a grain of salt, especially considering the informality of the announcement. He candidly stated, “it's about ideas, bro. New ideas. People with ideas. People who believe in truth. And yes, as you probably could have guessed by this moment, I have decided in 2020 to run for president.”
The rhetoric of this speech may provide insight into what his campaign might look like if he actually moves forward with a bid for president: a language that aligns more with that of an artist rather than a politician. His political history has been confusing, especially after West - a multi-award-winning, highly successful Black artist - openly advocated and showed support for Donald Trump. He has been photographed sporting MAGA hats and shaking Trump’s hand, which gathered intense confusion considering the negative racial undertones and discrimination in Trump’s speeches, campaign, and presidency.
His announcement felt even more surreal after his interviews yesterday, where Kanye stated his fear of COVID-19 vaccines, the new banner of the Birthday Party his campaign will be run under, and his desire to run the White House with a new model based on the country of Wakanda in Black Panther (Lane 2020). He consistently referenced his spirituality and religion, naming God as one of the most influential forces in his decision to run for president. His first interview was, as expected, bizarre, unconventional, and arguably not even political. Despite this, West has a strange sort of magnetism that makes people want to watch him, even if they do not take him seriously.
The lack of solidified political opinions that West holds further exemplifies the confusion around his campaign. He supports candidates and celebrities based on their energy and personal connections rather than concrete policies, which is exactly what the artist described when asked about his relationship with Trump. His support for Trump was obvious, but the artist did not actually cast a ballot in the 2016 election. West seems to be running for president with little to no knowledge on political policy or the inner workings of government - determined to create his own structure rather than adhering to the existing designs.
For voters who want Trump out of office after his first term, it is important to consider that voting for Kanye could actually benefit Trump’s campaign - essentially taking votes away from Biden. An article by Forbes argued that a run by West will likely result in “tipping the scales for one candidate rather than West himself becoming president”.
Some call Kanye West a narcissist, some call him a genius, some say his announcement to run for president is a drawn-out joke. He may be following in the footsteps of President Trump; neither of the men had nuanced political experience or education before running, and are driven by their extreme and unwavering confidence. The coming weeks will indicate whether or not the artist intends to run a serious political campaign or a performance, and based on his history, it could go either way.