Image courtesy of Sky News
By Eva Lynch
It’s 2015. Drake drops the anthem of the year, “Hotline Bling.” “Hamilton” debuts on the Broadway stage. And 21-time Grammy-winning rapper Kanye West first announces his intention to run for president of the United States in 2020 during his acceptance speech for the Video Vanguard Award at the MTV VMAs.
Now, in 2020, as COVID-19 infections rise across the country and Americans adapt to life in masks, West is reiterating his original intention, first via Twitter, and more recently via a tell-all interview with Forbes.
“We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future,” West’s tweet on July 4 read. “I am running for president of the United States! #2020VISION”
The tweet amassed 1.2 million likes, received almost immediate endorsements in retweet-form from his wife Kim Kardashian West and in comment-form from SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, and resulted in “Kanye” trending on Twitter. Musk’s backing may have been premature, however, as suggested by his response when asked if he still supports West.
“We may have more differences of opinion than I anticipated,” Musk wrote, four days following his original endorsement of West, and seemingly in response to certain sentiments West expressed during his Forbes interview.
Following West’s announcement, many people wondered how his presidential bid would fit into the two-party system, as it is too late in the race for West to bid as an independent in many states, and it is highly unlikely that he would run as Republican against the incumbent, President Donald Trump. Many fans also wondered about West’s relationship with Trump, which in the past has seemed to be healthy, mutually beneficial, and politically supportive. West has been seen many times sporting a “Make America Great Again” cap, suggesting an affiliation to the Trump administration and campaign, and has met with the President several times.
Fortunately for his fans, West clarified his plans in an interview with Forbes on Wednesday.
West announced that he would not be running as a candidate for either party but will instead start his own “Birthday Party,” because “when we win, it’s everybody’s birthday.” His chosen running mate is Michelle Tidball of Cody, Wyoming, a self-described biblical life coach with an aversion to daily news and to whom West has never mentioned a connection before.
His campaign slogan embodies the “short and sweet” ideal: “YES!”
According to West, his qualifications for the position include that “special” something required of America’s leaders, which West says Trump, former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, and himself possess, but Democratic candidate Joe Biden, does not. Aside from being special, West also claims to have the mandate of heaven.
“Let’s see if the appointing is at 2020 or if it’s 2024—because God appoints the president. If I win in 2020 then it was God’s appointment. If I win in 2024 then that was God’s appointment,” said West.
In regards to his relationship with Trump, West acknowledged his previous loyalty to the President but declared he has since jumped ship: “I am taking the red hat off, with this interview.”
He also revealed that he registered to vote for the first time ever on Monday, and the video recap as well as a message encouraging others toward civic engagement is posted on his Twitter to prove it.
Some of West’s fans are suspicious of his intention to run for president considering the timing of his announcement, proposing that he may just be stirring up attention to better promote his upcoming album release. However, West denied these claims as well, saying that he would gladly give away his album for free and did not need any extra publicity.
Among other provocative topics, West disclosed he will need to do more research before deciding on his tax policy, is still in the process of developing his foreign policy, and, most surprisingly, has suffered and recovered from coronavirus in February. He has, however, decided that he is anti-vaccine, including for COVID-19.
“It’s so many of our children that are being vaccinated and paralyzed,” said West. “So when they say the way we’re going to fix COVID is with a vaccine, I’m extremely cautious. That’s the mark of the beast. They want to put chips inside of us, they want to do all kinds of things, to make it where we can’t cross the gates of heaven. I’m sorry when I say they, the humans that have the Devil inside them. And the sad thing is that, the saddest thing is that we all won’t make it to heaven, that there’ll be some of us that do not make it. Next question.”
With the election approaching less than four months away, many Americans are doubting West will be able to get on the ballot at all. He says he will decide in the next 30 days whether to seriously pursue a presidential bid; by then, it would be past the deadline to declare a bid in most states. However, citing coronavirus-related complications, West feels he could make an argument to appear on any ballot, regardless of filing deadlines.
All that’s left is the question leaving many Americans bewildered: why?
According to West, “Like anything I’ve ever done in my life, I’m doing it to win.”