Can Kanye punch a real punch at the polls?


Seb Koehmstedt, Staff Writer

Kanye Omari West will end up with many titles on his tombstone. The bar-spitting rapper, musical-genius producer, top-billed fashion designer, married-into Kardashian, and new-age minister is attempting to add yet another denomination: President of the United States. 

The campaign, initially teased before the 2016 election, was never likely to be taken seriously. Kanye’s already polarizing image in the public eye, combined with his late entry into the race and his lack of political experience are just a couple of reasons why. 

Kanye has seemed to freefall from grace ever since his public disrespect of national darling Taylor Swift at the 2009 VMA’s. His continued antics into the 2010’s, including (but not limited to) a continued feud with Taylor Swift, off-kilter comments about the nature of slavery, an opiod-influenced TMZ appearance, and pages upon pages of borderline insane tweets, have caused public opinion of Kanye to dwindle to an all-time low. But you know what they say- “when you’ve hit rock bottom, run for president”.

The announcement that Kanye West was running for president -which came on July 4th, 2020 via Kanye West’s official twitter- was limited in its impact. Many of West’s followers are so accustomed to out-of-left-field statements coming from Kanye’s fingers that the announcement of a run for president seemed like another in a long line of similarly insane quotes. The only difference this time is that Kanye wasn’t kidding. 

The West campaign took itself maybe a little too seriously. After missing the deadline for a spot on the ballot in a majority of states, West’s campaign sued for a spot on the Ballot in Arizona, Ohio, Wisconsin, Virginia, and West Virginia. It didn’t work. Kanye ended up as a third-party option on the ballot of just 12 states, but has urged his followers to write his name in for the presidency. 

How would West in the West Wing look? Running as hyper-Christian, pro-life, anti-death penalty, and pro-military, West’s politics are kind of a mixed bag. While many would be quick to lump him in with the conservatives, especially following his very public fondness of Donald Trump, his stance on the death penalty and using public funds for the arts suggest a somewhat liberal slant. These couple curveballs aren’t enough to place Kanye on the other side of the aisle, though. Kanye West is definitively a Republican. The most robust factor (or what you could call his platform) of Kanye’s campaign is his promises to abolish the separation of Church and State and bring prayer back to schools. This promise likely went unresearched. The West administration would be fighting the literal first amendment to make this pipe dream a reality in the United States, which means Kanye’s only outstanding political facet is total hogwash. 

The strangest part of West’s run is his self-contained double act as a right-wing pseudo-minister whose fanbase is largely made up of left-wing atheist Millennials. Therein lies the rub. For the West campaign to make unironic strides toward a seat in the Oval Office, Kanye would have to completely change the demographic of his supporters, which is quite a bit to ask. Right-wing white males, who are the target audience for any candidate on team red, were never likely to support Kanye West, as they were never likely to have had any reason to. Kanye West’s lighthearted but offensive misogyny throughout his music, which is typical of his genre, was never likely to win him any voters identifying as female either. Overall, the biggest problem with the West campaign is that it exists. 

Those who have already voted for Kanye, or are planning to on November 3rd (ironically or no) were always most likely to be his fans. With Kanye being one of the largest and most influential voices in the Hip-Hop community of all time, his audience mostly consists of black millenials (though there is plenty of diversity in West’s fanbase). These are the same voters the left has always expected to court, especially this election with Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris as his running mate. This could create problems for the Democrats at the polls, as any split in this demographic would upset the balance of the election. While West could never earn a single vote from the electoral college, the presence of his campaign as a threat to the left’s monopoly on the black vote is somewhat impactful. This is likely the only punch Kanye is packing. As serious as Kanye claims to be about his presidential aspirations, there was simply never a chance he would end up being sworn in. But with Kanye being so young, and maybe if he starts his campaign before July, he could have a chance in 4 years. Here’s to Kanye 2024.