2020 has been a shocking year already in almost every way imaginable, and it may yet have one more surprise twist in the tale. He might be too late to enter the running in some states, but controversial rapper Kanye West has announced that he’s running to become President of the United States of America. Ten years ago that would have sounded like an absurd prospect, but we’re living in an age where a former host of “The Apprentice” is President. Is this just another one of West’s many publicity stunts, or could he be serious?
From an outsider’s perspective, it’s impossible to know whether West is seeking publicity, or whether he really believes he could lead the country. The only action he’s taken so far is to post a Tweet in which he’s proclaimed that he’s running for President as if it were a done deal. In reality, it isn’t that simple. As an independent, there’s an enormous amount of paperwork to file if he genuinely intends to run, and it’s understood that he hasn’t done any of that yet. There’s also the small matter of whether he’d be allowed to run. With no disrespect intended to West, his battles with mental health issues in recent years have been well-publicized, and any prospective occupant of the highest office in the land has to pass medical tests. Only West knows how healthy he’s feeling at the moment, and whether he’d pass those tests.
If he is running, it’s hard to predict what kind of platform he might stand on. He’s been heavily criticized in recent years for appearing too close to incumbent President Donald Trump, going so far as suggesting that slavery ‘was a choice’ for African Americans in the past. More recently than that, though, he’s been both a vocal and visible supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, which puts him at odds with the President’s current philosophy and public stance. Going further in the past, the rapper has described himself as “not political,” and thinks of himself as an artist first and foremost. We have no idea what West’s foreign policy ideas look like, for example. We don’t know what his domestic policies would look like either. Aside from the Kardashians, he doesn’t appear to have a support network around him that would be able to provide him with any salient political advice.
The cult of celebrity means more in the United States of America than it does anywhere else in the world. Having elected one celebrity President in Trump, it’s not out of the question that the country would choose another. The two even have things in common. West was offered a run of performances at a Las Vegas casino to pay off his personal debts in 2016. Trump managed to bankrupt casinos in Atlantic City. The arrival of the age of online games like Yggdrasil slots goes some way to explaining why it’s harder to make money with a casino than it used to be, but it doesn’t explain everything. You could even argue that a smart business person would have invested in online slots as opposed to buying up physical casinos. The relative success or failure of casinos or online slots websites don’t necessarily indicate everything you need to know about a person, but having debt issues with casinos certainly might suggest personal judgment issues.
In the (seemingly unlikely) event that West does decide to stand, he might have support from an unlikely source. Elon Musk – another man who knows a thing or two about strange Tweets and controversial behavior – has indicated that he would happily back West’s run, and vote for him if his name appears on an electoral ballot. If that name does appear, it will apparently come with the subheading “the birthday party,” as apparently, West believes that it will be “like everybody’s birthday every day” when he wins. This is despite an interview that West recently gave to Forbes magazine, in which he stated his total opposition to vaccines, and also said that white supremacists are responsible for creating Planned Parenthood to prevent the birth of black children. Such views are unlikely to put West in serious contention for the Presidency. In fact, the only significant poll that’s been done since his declaration that includes him as an option puts West’s support figure at a less-than-promising two percent.
While it’s unlikely that West will actually stand when push comes to shove – not least because he’s missed registration deadlines in Texas, Alabama, New Jersey, New York, and several other states – there are some supporters of the Democrats who fear that this is a ploy to pull votes away from Joe Biden. Biden is currently comfortably beating Trump in every reliable poll in the country, but some believe that Biden is only so popular because he isn’t Trump. West’s previously-cozy relationship with Trump has let some pro-Biden voices to suggest that this is an insider deal, and that West appearing on the ballot will draw enough votes away from Biden to allow Trump to secure a second term. While it sounds like a far-fetched idea even for an internet conspiracy theory, stranger things have happened.
What this unexpected entry into the world of politics has done, at the very least, is secure more publicity for Kanye West. After appearing to go quiet for a prolonged period of time, he suddenly has the world talking about him again. Does that mean that he’s about to run for President, or does it just mean that he has a new artistic project to share with the world, and he wanted to make sure that he has everybody’s attention before he releases it? We have no way of knowing for sure. As the days and weeks continue to pass, though, and more and more registration deadlines are missed, it becomes less and less likely that he’ll be able to stand. We still won’t know whether he seriously intended to stand in 2020 or not, but circumstances might prevent him from doing so even if he isn’t joking.
If he doesn’t end up standing, that doesn’t mean his apparent political ambitions are on the back burner forever, though. As his biggest fan Elon Musk has already suggested, there’s always 2024.