Last week I reported on Kanye West’s shocking announcement that he was running for president as an independent. Kanye made his announcement on July 5 in a single tweet.
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
— ye (@kanyewest) July 5, 2020
Unfortunately, that tweet was all the information that Kanye had seen fit to grace us with at the time. This touched off a firestorm of wild speculation as to why Kanye was choosing 2020 to run for the presidency, especially given his prior support of President Trump.
I had opined at the time that it seemed likely that Kanye West was running for president to act as a spoiler for Joe “Joementia” Biden:
I think it’s more likely that Kanye is setting himself as a third party spoiler for Joementia. Biden is expected to get the traditional lion’s share of the black vote that Democrats always get come election time. There have been rumblings that the black community as a whole is starting to support President Trump more and more, but no one knows if that support will translate into votes in November.
Kanye running as a third party spoiler, however, obliterates Joementia’s already shaky support within the black community. Those black voters who are hardcore Democrats who would never support President Trump would see Kanye as a viable alternative to sure loser Joementia. Couple this with the rising number of black voters likely to support President Trump and you have a large portion of voters fleeing Joementia in record numbers. Likely enough to tip the popular vote and the electoral college to President Trump.
Fortunately, Kanye West has given us a lot more information on the whys and wherefores of his presidential campaign and the motivations behind it. Forbes has released a wide-ranging, sometimes bizarre interview with Kanye West. Naturally, the topic was Kanye’s presidential bid.
Kanye admitted he has not yet fleshed out major portions of his campaign. Kanye’s foreign policy, for example, is still in the very early planning stages. What interested me, however, wasn’t so much the planks of Kanye’s campaign platform as it was his response to fears that his candidacy would hurt Joementia (emphasis added):
Kanye West’s Fourth of July declaration, via Tweet, that he was running for president lit the internet on fire, even as pundits were trying to discern how serious he was. Over the course of four rambling hours of interviews on Tuesday, the billionaire rapper turned sneaker mogul revealed:
- That he’s running for president in 2020 under a new banner—the Birthday Party—with guidance from Elon Musk and an obscure vice presidential candidate he’s already chosen. “Like anything I’ve ever done in my life,” says West, “I’m doing to win.”
- That he no longer supports President Trump. “I am taking the red hat off, with this interview.”
- That he’s ok with siphoning off Black votes from the Democratic nominee, thus helping Trump. “I’m not denying it, I just told you. To say that the Black vote is Democratic is a form of racism and white supremacy.”
It’s hard to take Kanye’s assertion that he no longer supports President Trump given the wider context of the interview. Especially when Kanye essentially admitted that yes, he is running in order to hurt Joe Biden’s candidacy. Additionally, Kanye stated that he plans on speaking with President Trump and Jared Kushner regarding his candidacy at a later date. That would seem to indicate that Kanye is only superficially “cutting ties” with President Trump.
Kanye has put the question of why he announced his candidacy to bed with this interview. Now, the question becomes how serious about this run is he? The Forbes interview would seem to indicate that Kanye hasn’t thought this move through a whole lot beyond helping President Trump and hurting Joementia. Kanye and his wife Kim have done a lot of policy work as of late, especially with regard to prison reform. It’s entirely possible that he has a possible domestic platform fleshed out and ready to go. The foreign policy aspect of the campaign is likely something that would take longer to put together.
Kanye also acknowledges that he has a finite amount of time to pull the trigger on this nascent presidential campaign. He also realizes that he has missed the window to get on the ballot in three states as of today. That indicates someone who still hasn’t decided whether or not he’s ready to jump into the deep end as it were.
Perhaps Kanye is using a 2020 announcement as a way to gauge what things will be like in 2024, which was his original target date? Honestly, it’s not a bad plan. The 2020 election season is likely going to be the most intense election cycle since 2016. Kanye will have proven himself capable of handling anything if he can survive 2020. He may even be able to begin laying the groundwork for a run at the Republican candidacy in 2024.
Right now, however, it’s impossible to know anything for certain. Kanye West is the only one who can really tell us what’s going on in Kanye West’s mind, and thus far he’s only seen fit to give us a tantalizing glimpse at his true plans.
Either way, it’s important not to dismiss Kanye West too quickly. After all, if 2016 should have taught us anything, it’s that the next president can come from the unlikeliest of places.