When Kanye West said he was running for president in 2020 at the VMAs in 2015, people wrote it off as just another characteristic outburst of eccentricity and megalomania. We’re talking about the guy who appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone as Jesus.
He’s also famous for grandiose proclamations like this notorious quote from a 2013 interview with Sway:
I am the number one most impactful artist of our generation. I am Shakespeare in the flesh. Walt Disney. Nike. Google.
From the view in 2019 though, it’s hard to doubt that the multi-platinum selling rapper is serious. Just saying he’s running is one thing, but Kanye West is walking the walk.
West and wife, Kim Kardashian are on an all-out media and activism offensive this year, making inroads into key political blocks. They appear to be building a broad centrist coalition for 2024.
After Donald Trump won the 2016 election, West pushed his timeline back four years, teasing “2024” on Twitter, and telling interviewers he’d be running for president. In September 2018, he told Power 92 Chicago’s DJ Pharris:
If I decide to do it, it will be done, I’m not going to try… Yes, 100 per cent it could happen… 2024.
At Fast Company’s Innovation Festival earlier this month, West said:
When I run for president in 2024 we would have created so many jobs I’m not going to run, I’m going to walk.
He also said he’s seriously considering legally changing his name to “Christian Genius Billionaire Kanye West.” If Trump’s 2016 run was a bizarre spectacle that created a gravity well the media and electorate couldn’t escape, Kanye West would be well-suited to the new normal of American politics.
Donald Trump shocked the world by winning the Republican nomination in 2016, and the general election later that year.
Trump seemed to break every rule of good electioneering, making a number of unscripted, incautious, and politically incorrect statements. Combine that with world-class megalomania, and Kanye West has all the same ingredients that made Donald Trump a black swan political success in today’s unique media environment.
West has been one of Donald Trump’s most outspoken celebrity advocates, drawing the ire of his peers in an entertainment industry dominated by Democrats. The rapper calls Trump, “my brother,” and says the two “are both dragon energy.”
His affinity for Trump may serve the interest of enticing Trump supporters in 2024, but it’s also Kanye remaining faithful to hip hop’s longstanding love of the Donald.
Before he became a Republican president, Trump was “an indisputable icon in hip-hop music for decades,” an inspirational symbol of wealth and success with over 300 references to Trump in popular rap lyrics.
Kanye has also made extraordinary efforts to reach out to people of faith in America. The evangelical Christian voting block is crucial to winning the electoral college.
Evangelicals were key to George W. Bush’s victory in 2000, and even more so his reelection campaign in 2004. When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, long an atheist, said that religion is “very important” in 2017, it fueled rumors that he was planning a presidential run.
Kanye West’s new gospel album, “Jesus Is King,” will certainly warm at least some people of faith to the prospect of a West candidacy in 2024. He followed it up with an appearance this Sunday at famed televangelist Joel Osteen’s megachurch in Houston, Texas.
While West was reaching out to the evangelical right, possible future First Lady (or Vice President?) Kim Kardashian was appealing to the social justice community of the left.
In an interview that aired Monday, the reality television superstar talked with Jenna Bush Hager about her successful efforts to get death row inmate Rodney Reed’s execution stayed in Texas.
The power couple made media waves in October 2018 when they visited President Trump in the Oval Office to discuss prison reform.
Donning a red MAGA cap, Kanye West jumped in to give the press pool an extended pro-Trump monologue about politics that appeared to leave Donald Trump speechless.
When reporters asked Trump if Kanye is a viable political candidate, the president replied he “could very well be.”
Last modified: September 23, 2020 1:18 PM