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Everything You Need To Know About Kanye West’s Run For Presidency — Including Why It’s So Dangerous

Strangely, an American Flag emoji was all the confirmation I needed. On July 4, I remember scrolling through my Instagram to the sound of fireworks somewhere in the distance when a screenshot of a tweet by Kanye West made its way onto my screen. He claimed he was running for president, and I assumed it was photoshop. The next morning I opened my phone to discover that the announcement was real when Kim Kardashian West retweeted it with nothing more than a red, white, and blue banner.

So what even is his platform?

Four days later, on July 8, West’s first campaign interview with Forbes went live. Over four long hours, West laid out his plan for the United States, including an anti-death penalty, pro-life, anti-vax platform, along with his initiatives to reinstate prayer in schools, adapt a “Wakanda” management model from the movie Black Panther, and to open up the NBA “all the way back from Nigeria to Nanchang.”

If you’re slightly confused by his last two points, me too. Wakanda is a fictional African country from the Marvel film, though it seems as though West was referring to the way the King of the nation worked closely with scientists. As far as the NBA goes, the league is a national, professional one with only one team outside of the US, located in Canada. West apparently wants to make the NBA international, a strange point considering the government doesn’t hold much power over the organization, and seems less important in the wake of a deadly virus and systematic racism. He also made it clear his strategy for taxes and foreign policy was TBD. 


November is coming protest signs
Photo by Rosemary Ketchum from Pexels

West plans to run as an Independent in what he named “The Birthday Party,” although he said if it weren’t for Trump he’d be representing Republicans. Reports go back and forth daily regarding his campaign status, and nobody seems to be able to say with any certainty that West plans to follow through on his quest for presidency. On the 15 of July, it appeared he’d dropped out of the race, though on the 19 he held his first rally in South Carolina, where he announced updated policies, including that abortion should be legal. In his newest statement, he emphasized that there should be more resources, so that women don’t have to make that choice, most notably saying, “everybody that has a baby gets a million dollars.” 

And can he actually run?

It’s not just the yes-no volley from West himself on his candidacy status that confuses political analysts, the media and the general public. There are countless legal reasons that make his campaign seem less than legit. In order for anyone’s name to appear on the ballots, there are various forms and requirements, only some of which West has filed. About two weeks after his initial bid, West did file a form 2 “Statement of Candidacy” with the Federal Election Committee (FEC). This paperwork essentially means he’s raised or spent over $5,000 in his goal towards election.

Even so, he’s already missed the deadline to run as a third-party in many states, most notably in South Carolina, where he’s held his only rally so far. At this point, it seems the only US states where West’s name might be on the ballot are Oklahoma, Arkansas, Colorado, Utah, Vermont and Iowa. While there is a possibility that he could run on a totally write-in platform, it’s more than unlikely he’d win. Most states still require write-in candidates to file some form of paperwork, nine states don’t allow write-in candidates at all, and only the remaining eight don’t have any requirements. 

What’s the big deal?

Jumping into the race just months before the election isn’t just a logistical nightmare, it’s a distraction that further divides US voters, and in a dangerous way. In his Forbes interview, West had no problem with admitting that his nomination would be siphoning Black votes from Biden — he argued that assuming the Black vote was democratic was a form of white supremacy. The reality is his run pulls more than just Black voters away from Biden – anybody who was even slightly on the fence for the Democratic nominee (and there’s a lot of them), might jump at the chance to vote for anyone else. Especially if that someone is a high-profile celebrity, where their vote can be used as an internet meme or a “funny thing I did once.” 

Almost anyone could tell you that Kanye West is not going to win this election. Historically, third-party candidates usually only get a small percentage of the popular vote, and rarely any from the Electoral College. None have ever won. Like it or not, US citizens live in a two-party system, and with that means there are only two realistic candidates come November: Biden or Trump. 

Unlike Biden supporters, Trump fans are fully devoted to their reality-TV-star-turned-politician candidate. They eat up every racist, homophobic, sexist thing that comes out of his mouth. There is no doubt in their mind that Trump is the only person capable of leading the US into its next wave of “greatness.” 

Biden followers, on the other hand, are less sure of their nominee, especially younger voters. Emmy Todd, a rising junior at The College of Wooster and co-president of Wooster Democrats, says, “They see him as part of the problem in politics. He is an older, white male whose progressive stances are frankly lacking compared to other politicians. As younger democratic voters, we crave a nominee who would change the status quo in Washington and implement progressive policies that we would be able to see the effects of.”

While Kanye doesn’t necessarily project progressive views, he offers an alternative for many younger voters who feel uncomfortable voting for Biden or Trump. Furthermore, voting-age Gen X-ers and younger Millennials are also just the groups that would be locked into pop and internet culture, maybe the strongest asset West has in his run for Commander in Chief. 


Joe Biden smiling at outdoor event
Photo by Gage Skidmore from Flickr

Related: College Women on Voting for Joe Biden: ‘Anyone Is Better Than Trump at This Point’

For this reason, now more than ever, it’s important for this younger generation to realize that a vote for West is not a joke, and it’s most definitely not a vote against Biden. Voting for West is voting for Trump. MAGA supporters are nothing if not loyal, and by supporting the rapper and sneaker connoisseur, you’re only making it that much easier to ensure Biden comes out with fewer ballots than Trump. If pulling votes away doesn’t bother you, the harsh reality is that because Kanye will not win, choosing him is practically the same as not voting. In an election as important as this one, it’s an unacceptable decision. 

Dr. Andrew Seligsohn, the president of Campus Compact, a nonpartisan, nonprofit coalition of 1,000 universities dedicated to building democracy through civic education says, “As a political scientist and as an individual, I am persuaded by the arguments that it makes sense to cast your ballot for the person who might actually win the election who you think is best.” 

West also recently tweeted in all caps that he could “beat Biden off of write-ins,” to which many Twitter users responded with similar criticisms. Some conveyed concern for West’s mental health, particularly relevant after a recent and public declaration by Kardashian West concerning his bipolar disorder. Others seemed convinced that this tweet confirmed that West was working with Trump to funnel support away from Biden. Many simply begged him to stop, citing the extreme importance of this election. “There are young impressionable minds out there and this election is too important to make a joke or PR stunt out of it,” one user responded. While it’s still unclear whether all of this is purely out of West’s own desire, the republican party is definitely taking advantage of his run

America’s strange obsession with celebrity 

Historical analysis and party system aside, West’s desire — and even slight support — for presidency confirms a startling but prevalent truth about American culture. Yankees have developed such a strange obsession and fascination with celebrity culture that it feels almost reasonable that a man with no qualifications or political experience could lead our country in its next era. While West would hardly be the first (just look at Trump) it’s concerning that in the age of the internet, follower count can be used as leverage for the most important job in the United States. If I owned a business, I wouldn’t hire someone with little to no competence in my industry or field, so why should it be any different in politics? Kanye West might be a talented musician, and he might even have some ideas you agree with, but he’s not qualified to run the country. 

Related: Everything you need to know about voting by absentee ballot 

The responsibility of young voters

No one can say with certainty what will happen this November, but it’s possible you’ll see three names on your ballot sheet. It’s equally likely Kanye will drop out, leaving this charade behind before it’s too late. US citizens are lucky to live in a country where their voices can make a difference. While it’s not a true or perfect democracy, the opportunity to vote matters. For many eligible college students, this may be their first time participating in the presidential election, or any election for that matter. As Dr. Seligsohn points out, “We’ve seen voter suppression efforts focused on students that have been intended to make it harder for college students to vote, [and] that makes it that much more important that they claim their rights.” 


Unsplash

Refusing to participate in a system you don’t fully support won’t change it, but getting involved does. Dr. Seligsohn mentions that students aspiring to immerse themselves further into the democratic structure can volunteer at polls, as they are often run by older members of the community who no longer feel safe due to COVID-19. Regardless of where you stand, it’s moments like these that remind us that politics are not a joke, that actions have consequences, and that the chance to vote is a privilege — don’t waste it. 

Katherine is a national writer for Her Campus. She likes essays, articles, lyrics, and fictional stories. She hates tomatoes. A Hoosier at heart, she's now based in Brooklyn.
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