By Liam Benedict
The United States was shocked when Kanye West announced his presidential campaign on his Twitter account on Jul. 4, this year. He filed the statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission only a few days later, on Jul. 16.
This move came as a surprise for multiple reasons. For one thing, Kanye West is first and foremost a musician, without any political experience. Secondly, West had previously showered praise on current Republican President Donald Trump, so why would he run against him?
Why would he run at all? And what does West’s presidential run tell us about our political system?
These are all valid questions, ones I hope to shed some light on. I believe that Kanye West’s presidential bid is nothing more than an ill-conceived marketing ploy, thought up by a mentally ill man, with far too much money and power at his disposal. Given how quickly this campaign came from nothing, and how minuscule its chances of even minor success are, it makes much more sense that this is just viral marketing for West’s next album.
However, some people believe that there is a deeper, far more sinister political maneuver going on here, although I don’t think that is likely.
Given how, back in 2016 and 2017, West frequently defended and supported Trump, it doesn’t make much sense to suddenly see him turning his back on the President.
In a Forbes interview, published on Jul. 8, West only gives a few details as to why he no longer supports Trump. Adding on to his disapproval of the President’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis, he stated that “I don’t like that I caught wind that he hid in the bunker.”
However, people think that this disapproval is actually just an act.
The New York Times suggests that he is simply running as a spoiler to take votes from Biden.
West has denied this idea, but there is some evidence to support this. For one thing, Trump himself said that it “wouldn’t be hard” for West to take votes from Biden.
It is also worth noting that several Republican entities have actually supported his campaign. West has partnered with the Atlas Strategy group, a republican oriented firm. The New York Times revealed that “Several Republican operatives including Lane Ruhland, an election lawyer who has worked for the Trump campaign in Wisconsin and Rachel George, a Republican consultant in Colorado” are working with West.
Despite these signs, I still believe that West is simply in it for the publicity. Considering his mental illness (West has admitted that he does not take medication for his bipolar disorder), as well as his utterly ridiculous campaign platform, it seems unlikely that he is plotting with the president to create a tempting campaign that would purposefully draw away votes from Biden.
So what are Kanye West’s policies? Well, in recent years, West has seemingly become a born again Christian, although its sincerity is doubted. Regardless, West is very publicly devoted to his religion and is running on an almost entirely faith-based campaign.
In fact, West’s beliefs are so staunch that it would make the average churchgoer look godless in comparison. West seeks to “bring back prayer in school” and has even asked his staff not to “fornicate” outside of marriage.
West’s new political ad, which he has released just 22 days before the election, features him endorsing himself while expressing more religious language. Variety quotes the ad, where he says, “Families are the building blocks of society, of a nation. By turning to faith, we will be the kind of nation — the kind of people — God intends us to be.” He has even gone so far as to say that both planned parenthood clinics and vaccines are both “marks of the beast.”
Still, his hard religious stance is hardly the only thing wrong with his campaign. To put it simply, many aspects of his platform are ludicrous. His party name is “The Birthday Party.” Why? Because: “When we win, it’s everybody’s birthday.”
The same Forbes article mentioned how in his interview, West said that “He envisions a White House organizational model based on the secret country of Wakanda in Black Panther.” These statements sound like they come from a man who is obviously mentally ill, not a great political schemer.
It’s worth noting that West missed the ballot deadline for most states, only appearing on the ballot in 11 states. He has been encouraging his supporters to “write him in,” a strategy which reeks of desperation.
Ultimately, whether West’s campaign is a political scheme or a genuine effort to win the race, it is still a clear symptom of our nation’s political turmoil. There is so little faith in both mainstream parties, that wild third-party candidates like Kanye West can draw national attention. I end this article by asking any prospective voters, don’t throw your vote away for album promotion.
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