Kanye West is a great artist. But would he make a great president? Kanye and Trump are certainly similar. They both love publicity and are master self-promoters. So for Kanye, what better way to market oneself than running for the Oval Office?
This isn’t the first time the hip-hop mogul thought about throwing his hat in American politics. Kanye said he would be a presidential candidate during the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards. He said it again when he won the Video Vanguard Award. He dabbled in the prospect in 2018, when he told a radio host that his platform would be part-Trump, part-Bernie Sanders. Kanye even briefly talked about a future presidential run at the White House, when he told Trump that he didn’t have to worry about him as a potential competitor.
Kanye has now changed his tune. He’s a better politician than we thought. Explaining what motivated him to run for president, Kanye told Forbes magazine that ‘God just gave me the clarity and said it’s time’. ‘When I’m president’, he added, ‘let’s also have some fun. Let’s get past all the racism conversation, let’s empower people with 40 acres and a mule, let’s give some land, that’s the plan.’
Kanye, of course, is the definition of a political amateur. Like Trump, he has never stood for public office in his life. He doesn’t appear to be particularly good at anything other than making music and flogging albums. The guy is an enigma, somebody who likes to make headlines by interrupting the acceptance speeches of his fellow artists, crafting controversial lines in his songs, and saying outlandish things that make people scratch their heads.
He doesn’t have a tax policy or a foreign policy. He’s sceptical of vaccines. He wants the fear of God to be browbeaten into America’s schools. He suggests the solution for the coronavirus is to pray it away. He doesn’t support the death penalty. And he wants chemicals to be expunged from toiletries like deodorant and toothpaste. Kanye’s got a lot of ideas, but seemingly has no idea how to implement them.
Americans typically associate Bible-Belt, chest-thumping born-again Christians with the Republican party. Kanye, however, comes across as precisely one of those God-fearing politicians. Nearly every answer he gave in his first post-announcement interview with Forbes was connected in some way to his spirituality. He mentions God on numerous occasions, as if the Almighty is the answer to every problem in the world. Covid-19? Pray and be happy. Abortion? Absolutely not, ‘because I’m following the word of the Bible’. All of this suggests that Kanye sees the Oval Office as a perch for the entire nation to get back to the basics of God and country. Perhaps he’s a conservative and he doesn’t even know it.
The White House, like pretty much everybody else, thinks Kanye’s candidacy is a joke. Hoglan Gidley, a former White House communications adviser and current Trump campaign worker, told Fox News that a Kanye presidential campaign ‘would be interesting’. In reality, candidate Kanye would be one more piece of craziness in a year that is already proving to be unprecedented.
That may be the point. With coronavirus cases in the United States passing three million; an economy held captive to the virus; an unemployment rate in the double digits; a national debt topping £20 trillion ($26 trillion); America’s largest cities seeing a dramatic spike in shootings; police departments across the nation in the crosshairs for funding cuts or outright abolition; Americans fighting over slabs of marble and mask-wearing; and millions of young Americans struggling over absurd housing prices, then perhaps Kanye’s presidential ambitions will splash some much-needed cold water into our faces and bring us back to our senses about just how nutty our country has become.
Most Americans already view U.S. politics as a joke. How much worse can it get if Kanye chooses to jump into the arena?