The beloved and controversial rapper Kanye West has declared his intention to run for US President in the upcoming election in November. In the early hours of Wednesday 8th July, he set out his policies and gave us more information on how he will achieve this goal.
West, who is reportedly worth $1.3 billion according to Forbes has already been backed by Tesla and Space X founder Elon Musk along with his wife Kim Kardashian-West. Musk and West were photographed together just a few days before he announced his bid-on Twitter. They have a well-documented friendship stretching back to Musk’s early days with Tesla. As a result of this, Musk has been advising the campaign and is set to be his first appointment as head of the Space Programme if he should win.
West has always suggested that he would one day run for office. In 2015, during a speech at the VMA’s, he said “It’s about ideas, people who belief in truth. And yes, as you probably could have guessed, I have decided in 2020 to run for president.” He appeared to retract this statement after meeting with Trump in 2016 at the Oval Office posing for a photo with the “#2024” From this Kanye has declared his intention to run again in 2024 if he should be unsuccessful in November.
Kanye West announced on twitter on the 5th July: “We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision, and building our future. I am running for president of the United States. #2020VISION” The tweet has already gained over 300,000 retweets and 1.2 million likes with many users following up with sarcastic comments or genuine support. Many had accused West of pulling a publicity stunt, with his new single “Wash Us in the Blood” released just days before the tweet, and with his new album “God’s Country” set to be released later this year.
In an interview with Forbes West outlined that he would run as a 3rd party candidate under the Birthday Party banner stating that “because when we win. It’s everybody’s birthday!”. He has also stated that he no longer supports President Donald Trump “I’m taking the red hat off, with this interview.” He however followed up by calling Trump “special” and the “closest president we’ve had in years to allowing God to still be part of the conversation”. With the catalyst for this termination of support being when the President hid in the White House bunker during the early stages of the BLM protests. Donald Trump has actually backed West’s bid saying it “would be a great trial run for what’s going to happen in 4 years” but dismissed his chances of winning.
Trump has called his chances slim because Kanye he has already missed the deadline to register as a candidate in 6 states, and he is yet to have registered with the Federal Election Committee. According to Ballotpedia, West is unable to run as an independent in North Carolina, Texas, Maine, New York, New Mexico, and Indiana; he is however eligible to run in states such as California and Georgia were most of his support would be based. Yet the rapper believes he could still make those ballots citing coronavirus issues. “I’m speaking with experts, I’m going to speak with Jared Kushner, the White House, with Biden”
The main polices Kanye will be running with is anti-abortion and anti-vaccination’s, even though he has claimed that in February he contracted COVID-19. He opposed vaccinations calling them “the mark of the beast” and that the COVID-19 pandemic was “all about God.” He is calling for an end to police brutality but added “the police are people too.” Alongside and end to abortion “Planned Parenthoods have been placed inside cities by white supremacists to do the Devil’s work.”
The controversial policies West has taken come at no surprise as he has already spoken out about many of these issues in years previous. In 2018 he suggested that the 400-year enslavement of African-American’s had been a choice during an interview with TMZ. He stated “When you hear about slavery for 400 years, 400 years that sounds like a choice…” Then in October 2019 he spoke out against abortion, quoting “Thou shall not kill” from the 10 commandments. This was then followed in early 2020 by the rapper performing at “AWAKEN 2020” an evangelical event which harbours anti-LGBTQ sentiment.
The Republican Party will be looking over their shoulder at West as he is taking a more hard-line conservative stance than they would even dare, which may appeal to the vast evangelical voters which publicly still endorse Trump. Similarly he has appointed Michelle Tidball as his running mate who describes herself as a “biblical life coach” and touts that she has “various degrees in mental health and criminal justice”, previously working as a mental health therapist for ten years. With both limited in experience for the job their chances appear to be slim; but with the right backing from Christian evangelicals they could pose a threat as this is the largest voter demographic in America making up some 40% of voters.
The Democrats are worried as well because there are fears that Kanye’s inclusion could split the black vote for Biden, which has held firm in it is support for him through the primaries. West has said he is happy siphoning the black vote from Biden, “To say that the black vote is Democratic is a form of racism and white supremacy.” In an effort to win the black vote he has said he envisions a White House organizational model based on the country of Wakanda in Marvel’s Black Panther. He has also called Black History Month “torture porn” and calls for God to heal the racial divisions within America.
The youth vote has also been strained with their support for Biden with many believing that he is too economically conservative, with many preferring Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders thanks to their stance on Medicare-for-all and increased taxes on the super-rich. Many youth voters have already become disenfranchised with Biden and his rhetoric over the past few months with claims about his state of health causing concern. If he were to become president, he would be the oldest ever president over taking current record holder Ronald Reagan who was just shy of his 78th birthday when he left office; Joe Biden would be 78 during his inauguration.However this concern with the youth vote seems dumbfounded as Kanye’s stance on vaccines and abortion put him at odds with this core demographic.
However, West may still hold all the cards if he decides to run as an independent in several key states where their ballots are still open including, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Third-party candidates were Trumps greatest allies in the 2016 election with Gary Johnson from the Libertarian Party winning 4.5 million votes and Jill Stein form the Green Party receiving 1.5 million votes. These votes ultimately cost Hilary the election as many were in key swing states where she lost only by a few tens of thousands votes such as Michigan and New Hampshire.
Joe Biden currently has a healthy lead of 5-10 points in the polls, however due to the electoral college system this has limited weight on giving an assured result. Given Kanye’s socially conservative views it would be hard to differentiate himself from Trump and the Republican’s which may actually boost Biden as he splits the Trump vote. With only 5 months to the election and limited to none campaigning from West it is hard to see him being a threat to either side. However 5 months is a long time in politics and as a result, this election is shaping up to be an interesting and explosive affair, regardless of who wins come November.