Although many people wish US presidential elections were decided by popular vote, American politics dictate that the final decision officially comes down to who wins the electoral vote. However, this year is different.
This year the election comes down to who rapper Kanye West personally wants to be president.
The artist recently shocked the nation with his sudden announcement to run for president in 2020, despite the election being a mere four months away. Over the Fourth of July weekend, West casually dropped a tweet proclaiming “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!” complete with an American flag emoji.
While many high profile individuals such as former president Barack Obama have mocked Kanye West in the past and treated him as more of a joke than anything else, Mr. West has already accomplished a lot in his short time influencing politics.
He and his wife Kim Kardashian developed close enough ties with current president Donald Trump to convince him to give presidential pardons to convicts who were excessively punished over relatively minor infractions. This paved the way for Trump to later pass historic criminal justice reforms. Arguably none of this would have been possible without Kanye West’s diplomatic prodding.
Yet even with those massive achievements, many have still refused to take Kanye West seriously. Choosing instead to either ignore him or ridicule him. However, that’s starting to change.
Shortly after West’s announcement, Tesla CEO Elon Musk officially endorsed his candidacy. The endorsement sent shockwaves throughout the political world. Entrepreneur Mark Cuban shortly followed suit, suggesting he would also vote for Kanye West if given the chance.
The pundits were finally forced to address the very real possibility that Kanye West is not joking. He is running for president. While trying to process this fact, they simultaneously had to grapple with the implications.
In the beginning, some pundits smirked as they imagined all the ways a potential Kanye West campaign could take a chunk out of President Trump’s voter base. Andrew Solender opined as much in an article for Forbes suggesting that Kanye West’s run would likely hurt Trump.
But it didn’t take long for the stark realization to set in that, if anything, a last-minute Kanye West campaign would pose more of a threat to Joe Biden’s electoral odds.
And that’s when the panic began. The Daily Beast columnist Dean Obeidallah wrote an editorial for CNN pleading for Kanye West not to run. He was far from alone in his sentiments.
CJ Pearson, president of the activist organization Last Hope USA, was equally mortified.
“If Kanye runs in 2020 he’d only take away votes from Joe Biden.” Pearson said, adding that “Young people are already unenthusiastic enough as is about Biden’s candidacy but he’d also chip away at Biden’s black support.”
Political analyst Rachel Bitecofer concurred with Pearson’s assessment, while also taking on a conspiratorial tone by further suggesting the Trump campaign had “worked Kanye West via Elon Musk” to siphon votes from Biden.
Actor Eric Balfour joined in the outrage, asking “Do you guys think this is all a joke? That potentially pulling votes away from the only nominee who can defeat Donald Trump is cute or funny?”
While it’s hard not to get at least a small chuckle out of them collectively losing their minds over Kanye West’s casual bid for the White House, they are right to be worried. After all, they know too well what can happen when you underestimate an opponent – any opponent. To this day many Democrats blame Bernie Sanders for allegedly splitting the 2016 voter base, paving the way for Donald Trump who they had treated as nothing more than joke, similar to Kanye West. They don’t want to make that mistake again.
And if Kanye West stays in the race, he very well could decide the outcome of the upcoming election. Without his presence, the race is more of a 50/50 proposition, but with him in the mix Donald Trump’s re-election is a foregone conclusion.
However, for those expecting West to just drop out because they say so, they must realize that would be a foolish move on his part. He’s already gotten concessions out of Trump in the past. His current campaign will allow him to likely squeeze even more positive policies out of the Trump administration.
Plus, West’s campaign serves as a nice, inexpensive warm-up to potentially more organized campaigns in future elections. For anyone who has been paying attention, the message is clear: Kanye West isn’t going anywhere.
Nonetheless, Trump supporters should also take note of the implications of Kanye West’s announcement. For they too must realize that he alone gets to decide their future. This is Kanye West’s America, they’re just living in it.