My lazy night staying in, binging on both chocolate and mindless television, took a stark turn when Kanye ‘Yeezy’ West took the stage at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards. He held the mic close to his mouth, almost eating it up, donned in his signature casual brown monotone outfit. I expected a similar infamous performance of, “I’mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time!” Instead, we all got something even worse. With a forced purpose in his stance, after an agonizing 11-minute speech, West announced that he “has decided to run for president in 2020.”
In my experience, no one initially took the rapper seriously. How could a celebrity with no political background possibly be voted into the highest office in the land? Surely there had to be some form of vetting process to ensure that a capable professional would run the country. And then Donald Trump became president, and the seemingly high standards of the political system as we knew it fell apart.
This trend of unqualified individuals (historically men) seeking out jobs that are above their skill set continued through West’s recent reiteration that he still intended to run for the United States presidency this year – even though he has yet to qualify to get his name printed on the ballots needed for people to vote for him.
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 🇺🇸! #2020VISION
— ye (@kanyewest) July 5, 2020
While this may very well be a publicity stunt, West has always maintained that he is a self-proclaimed non-conformist genius, and his megalomaniac and downright conceited behavior of considering himself the ‘greatest human artist of all time’ is perfectly in keeping with his recent presidential announcement.
How could a celebrity with no political background possibly be voted into the highest office in the land?
He completely disregards the administrative processes put into place that govern these national elections. A tweet is not enough to technically enter the race. West would have to file with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and qualify to have ballot access – both of which he has yet to do.
Considering that all minor parties have already chosen their presidential candidates for 2020, West may have to run as an independent. However, the deadline for an independent candidate to register to appear on the ballot come this November has already passed in Indiana, Maine, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, and Texas. Together, those states represent 102 out of the 538 votes in the electoral college.
West could secure the country’s two other biggest Electoral College prizes: California and Florida. However, the process is not an easy one. In Florida, West has a deadline of July 15 to gather the signatures of 1% of all registered voters in the state to achieve ballot access. In California, his deadline is August 6.
These tasks may be difficult but not impossible. So, if West truly is the genius he claims to be, manifesting his (pseudo) ‘big dick energy’ into meeting these deadlines should be easy enough for someone with his money.
People’s lives are not an experiment you can carry out whenever you want to stroke your ego and prove your supposed greatness.
However, I think it is safe to assume that through this seemingly rushed announcement this late in the race, he is essentially making a mockery of the election process by assuming that he can throw in his name whenever the mood suits him and the system should adapt to meet his urges.
As a South African, many (including myself at times) may question my passion for this topic considering that I am not a citizen of the country West wishes to lead. However, as seen when Trump was announced as the 2016 winner, international outrage is common when historically-changing events occur in the US as the country is viewed as having a hand in the running of many others. West intending to run for office, in this same way, incites global confusion and distaste.
These far-reaching concerns are further spurred on by the fact that West is an international celebrity, establishing a household name long before this announcement or even his marriage to Kim Kardashian. This level of fame does not come without its monetary perks. West has an estimated net worth of $1.3 billion. His wife, Kim Kardashian West, has an estimated net worth of $900 million.
It baffles me that a couple that is notorious for flaunting their privileged lifestyles (just look at Kim’s posts of her diamond encrusted teeth grillz and $3,000 – $50,000 Friesian horses) could possibly believe that they could resonate with a middle-class public. West may have come from humble beginnings, but he has clearly been distanced from the realities of the struggling working class even going as far as celebrating his wife becoming a billionaire (a claim that has since been disputed) despite figures showing that nearly 40 million Americans have lost their jobs during this pandemic. To add salt to the wound, according to latest reports the billionaire’s apparel company, Yeezy LLC, reportedly received $2-5 million from the Paycheck Protection Program, a “loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.”
West may have come from humble beginnings, but he has clearly been distanced from the realities of the struggling working class.
Regardless of whether West would make a decent president or not, many are speculating as to why he is doing this in the first place. Some argue that, as a Trump supporter, he is running to hurt Joe Biden by trying to peel away Black voters from the presumptive Democratic candidate. Others theorise that West is not really running, just promoting his new album. The least shocking suggestion, however, is that West may be doing this simply for attention, just as his buddy Trump does.
What is really concerning is that, at the end of the day, countries require thoughtful, honest and well-informed leaders. Nothing in West’s background, especially his history of impulsive behavior, suggests he is up to the challenge of being president. The oval office is not the stage at the VMA’s. People’s lives are not an experiment you can carry out whenever you want to stroke your ego and prove your supposed greatness to get a few more million Instagram followers. His running will ultimately prove to be a dangerous distraction at a time where experienced leaders must raddle together to get the public through this fatal pandemic.
I can only hope that West decides to sit this one out and channel his pathological egotist ways into a more constructive project.
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