Updated: Jul 7
In a move straight out of a reality show, Kanye West has announced that he is running for president in 2020. Like the culinary curveball made famous by the Food Network’s “Iron Chef”, West hopes to skew the election by depending on his enormous (cough, cough) popularity.
He really has no intention of winning. Instead, he is trying to lure black voters away from former Vice President Joe Biden who has a 79 percent approval rating with this segment of the population. While this lags behind Hillary Clinton’s 88 percent, it still represents a threat to Trump’s re-election chances.
Enter Kanye. His history of controversies is long. From jumping on stage to grab the mic from Taylor Swift, who had just won a Video Music Award, to claiming that wearing a MAGA hat “made him feel like Superman”, Kanye is always someone who, like Trump, thrives on the limelight.
Just announcing you are running does not automatically put you on the ballot. Specific deadlines have passed, meaning he could not be on the ballot in most states.
So, what does he hope to achieve? Even though he wasn’t on the ballot in 2016, he did receive some write-in votes. But then again, so did Batman and even Mickey Mouse as the public used their voting power to demonstrate dissatisfaction with both candidates.
And this is not the first time he’s said he’s running. West previously announced he was planning to run in 2024, as a seeming heir-apparent to Donald Trump.
In what can only be seen as an election year ploy, or a desperate attempt to remain relevant, West’s announcement will undoubtedly draw some votes. It’s highly doubtful that it will have any influence on the final outcome…unless Putin supports him, that is.
So, Kanye West is trying to help his pal, Donald Trump, you know, the one who in 2016 boasted “I could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not lose voters”. It turns out, that is exactly what he’s doing. Time will tell if he will lose voters, but by ignoring, downplaying and otherwise sabotaging the efforts of those trying to battle the coronavirus pandemic, he is doing just that, but on a much grander scale.
He’s just not killing them with a gun. And, it’s not just people on Fifth Avenue.
From its onset, the coronavirus has represented a severe health hazard to all Americans. Despite this Trump has refused to admit this. As a result, as of today 132,000 Americans have died. And even more will perish because of his denial.
At first, Trump called it a Democrat hoax. When this proved to be terribly wrong, he shifted his message to claiming it was under control despite thousands of cases every day. He shifted his target to blaming China for the outbreak, despite his earlier praise about how they were handling the pandemic. Labeling it “the China virus”, or the racially tinged “Kung Flu”, Trump sought to deflect from his administration’s own inept response.
And while experts were urging social distancing and masks to protect people from the spread of the virus, Trump was politicizing the use of masks and mocking social distancing, choosing instead to hold political rallies where none of these measures were evident. In fact, his staff was seen removing stickers that encouraged social distancing.
When states shut down to control the spread, Trump paraded economists to contradict the claims of medical experts. He also praised protestors who were demanding the shut down end. Then states began reopening and cases rose, in many states precipitously. Rather than admit premature reopening of the states was a mistake, Trump blamed increased testing for the increase.
When rumors of the Holocaust circulated through war-torn Europe, most refused to believe it was true. Trump is attempting to sow this same doubt. Indeed, he is openly “shooting people on 5th Avenue”. And his base doesn’t seem to care.
Given the fact that people of color are being hit especially hard by the coronavirus pandemic, what really will be the impact of Kanye West's “candidacy” on black voters? Other than make him look like a fool?