Kanye West formally announced his 2020 presidential run as an independent candidate on the 4th if July; America’s Independence Day. He initially announced his leadership bid back in 2015 at the VMA’s, in which at the end of his speech #Kanye2020 was born. Now in 2020, he is using guidance and support from Elon Musk, an influential entrepreneur who founded SpaceX amongst other things.
West and Musk both hold a significant influence on the young adult community on many platforms. Within the music industry, Kanye holds four number-one titles in the US and is married to the very popular Kim Kardashian, a fashion icon who is currently pursuing legal training. Musk has a considerable following on Twitter and most subscribed Youtuber, Pewdiepie, has him appear in occasional videos after popular demand from his 105 million fans.
The Sun has argued that the rapper’s presidential bid risks splitting the Democrat vote, something that Kanye has stated he does not mind, but how much of a potential threat to Biden is Kanye, really?
First off, Kanye failed to register in time for some of the vital states such as Florida, the state that won Trump the 2016 election, and the state he will need to win for re-election this November. Kanye is only able to run in a few states such as Oklahoma and South Carolina, meaning his vote share will be inconsiderate for even an independent candidate.
Secondly is the issue of his politics and his constant changing in beliefs. Kanye is running in 2020 on the basis of Evangelical Christianity and has often promoted a pro-life narrative, something which is becoming increasingly unpopular in America. He has shown support for Trump’s narrative of economic nationalism by stating in 2018 that “we have to bring jobs into America because our best export is entertainment and ideas, but when we make everything in China and not in America, then we’re cheating on our country.” Education is something West has seemed to prioritise also, as despite dropping out of college, he has tweeted about teachers pay rise and donated $2million to George Floyd’s daughter or a college education.
Nevertheless, his politics today has vastly changed from the last ten years and is seemingly still changing and contrasting.
Back in 2004 in his song “Never Let Me Down” he states that “racism still alive, we just be concealing it” and spoke about his grandfather’s struggle under segregation laws. The following year, he spoke in an interview about homophobia in rap and how it needed to be stopped. Later on in 2010, in his hit song “Power” he criticises the American system by saying “The system broken, the school is closed, the prison’s open”.
However, in 2016, on his Saint Pablo Tour stop, he tells the crowd he did not vote in the Presidential election, but would have voted for Trump. He then goes on to specifically addressing African-Americans by imploring them to “stop focusing on racism” and accused them of unfairly victimising themselves. Fast forwards to 2018, a now arguably conservative Kanye, publicly in support of Trump states that “when you hear about slavery for 400 years… for 400 years? That sounds like a choice”. This understandably angered the African-American community, and many took to Twitter to show their anger. In the same year, Kanye tweeted that he “loves the way’ Candace Owen “thinks”. This came after she said that Black Lives Matter were victims. Now in 2020, this could have lost Kanye many black voters whom he aims to represent.
West’s political transformation is even more confusing when looking at the series of Tweets in support of Trump in 2016. Despite posting selfies with Kim and Hillary Clinton in support of the Democrats and donating $2,000 to Clinton in 2015. His response to this was to say that because he does not belong to a set political party of beliefs, then he can love both candidates. Nonetheless, he began to shift more to conservatism over time; he stated on Twitter that the ‘mob’ could not change how he thought about Trump and said they both connect well as they have “dragon energy’.
This confusion has worked itself into Wests campaign also. He started this month’s Forbes interview by taking off his red ‘MAGA’ hat. He said that “planned parenthoods have been placed inside cities by white supremacists to do the devil’s work” and that he wants a White House committee based off of the made-up country of Wakanda in Marvels’ Black Panther’.
Lastly, Kanye’s bipolar disorder has shown evidently in his campaigning. He was unfortunately diagnosed with the difficult illness in 2018 and spoke about his troubles with manic episodes on David Letterman’s show. After his recent breakdown about the consideration of the abortion of his daughter, West, at a Charleston rally, people have started to worry about the risk that a campaign may pose to his health. He later came out and said on Twitter that Kim has tried to lock him up with a Doctor and that he wants to divorce her. These are worrying signs of another manic episode in which his health must be paramount to his Presidential campaign.
By E Preston