On July 4, 2020, Kanye West announced his candidacy for President of the United States via Twitter and people were taken by surprise, to say the least.
West is no stranger to raising eyebrows. He has been producing and releasing music since the early 2000s, and in 2015, he debuted his fashion powerhouse Yeezy. West has also been named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in both 2005 and 2015. With 758 nominations and 255 wins for his music, 21 of those being Grammys, he is one of the top Grammy winners in history and the highest decorated hip-hop artist.
But, West has also caught attention for his often eccentric behaviors and statements. Many attribute these to part of his “genius,” whereas some instances have been reframed within speculation of West’s struggles with mental illness.
With West announcing his bid for the presidency amid political controversies and his recent Twitter outbursts, it begs the question: What’s going on with Kanye West?
#2020Vision or not?
In a series of now deleted tweets, West contemplated postponing his presidential campaign to 2024. However, it seems from his most recent tweets that he is sticking to his campaign for 2020. Announcing his intention to run, he garnered the full attention of headlines and support from other interesting figures, most notably Elon Musk.
Drama tends to follow West, and he didn’t disappoint on July 19. Appearing clad in a flak jacket in front of the American flag, he hosted his first presidential rally in South Carolina where he voiced his opinion on topics such as abortion, the LGBTQ community, gun control and the United States health care system. He also said that he will be running independently, and that if it wasn’t for Trump, he would be running as a Republican.
West spoke openly about his personal life and his views. He takes an anti-abortion stance because he claims to follow the word of the Bible. While he is anti-abortion, he also said he would fight to keep abortion legal through way of a unique incentive called “maximum increase.”
“The maximum increase would be everybody that has a baby gets a million dollars or something in that range,” he explained. “If you had opportunity to be given a million dollars, just for being pregnant, would you have considered it? And then everybody would start having children, the greatest gift of life.”
This, amid personal revelations about his own experience considering abortion during his wife Kim Kardashian’s first pregnancy, had news outlets buzzing in the aftermath. Footage of West sobbing and declaring “I almost killed my daughter,” flooded social media and news outlets following the rally.
However, West failed to meet the deadline to get on South Carolina’s state ballot. In a statement to USA TODAY, Chris Whitmire, the state’s Election Commission spokesperson confirmed that West did not submit any of the 10,000 signatures needed to get on the state’s ballot. He has also missed deadlines to file as an independent in several other states.
The Trump-West relationship
West has been fairly outspoken when it comes to his Republican views. In 2018, President Trump and Kanye West met in the Oval Office where they discussed various social issues. More importantly, Kanye demonstrated his support of Trump with his signature “Make America Great Again” red hat.
But recently, West stated in an interview with Forbes that he no longer supports President Trump. “I am taking the red hat off, with this interview.” However, he also said that he thought President Trump “is the closest president we’ve had in years to allowing God to still be a part of the conversation.”
The unexpected friendship between the two has stirred up quite a few headlines. It seems that their friendship may continue despite West’s criticisms of Trump. President Trump has not seemed particularly concerned with either West’s comments or his bid for the presidency, telling Fox News’ Sean Hannity, “He is always going to be for us, and his wife is going to be for us.”
All eyes on Kanye
West has stated that he is running independently under his own party, dubbed the “Birthday Party.” When asked what he meant, he replied, “When we win, it’s everybody’s birthday.”
Kanye West’s proposed campaign slogan is a simple “YES,” and when asked about his stance on policies, he wavers between thoughtful consideration and to be determined.
When asked about his stance on taxes, he stated “I haven’t done enough research on that yet. I will research that with the strongest experts that serve God and come back with the best solution. And that will be my answer for anything that I haven’t researched. I have the earplug in and I’m going to use that earplug.”
He often refers to his approach on policy as being similar to his design methods for other projects, like his Nike and Louis Vuitton joint ventures. Wakanda, the fictitious land featured in Marvel’s film “Black Panther,” often comes up in policy discussions with West as well.
Recently, West has been hunkered down on his sprawling ranch in Cody, Wyoming and continuously making headlines with his sometimes erratic tweets. Between cryptic photos that appear to be designs for a new font, underhanded statements denigrating his mother-in-law Kris Jenner and suggestions that his family is trying to lock him up, it’s no wonder that @ye is trending. Concerns over West’s mental health have been in public speculation for years and come to a head most recently with a public statement from West’s wife, Kim Kardashian-West.
Kardashian-West pleaded for compassion from the public on Instagram, stating, “As many of you know, Kanye has bipolar disorder. Anyone who has this or has a loved one in their life who does, knows how incredibly complicated and painful it is to understand.”
“I understand Kanye is subject to criticism because he is a public figure and his actions at times can cause strong opinions and emotions,” she explained. “He is a brilliant but complicated person who, on top of the pressures of being an artist and a black man, who experienced the painful loss of his mother and has to deal with the pressure and isolation that is heightened by his bi-polar disorder. Those who are close with Kanye know his heart and understand his words sometimes do not align with his intentions.”
While it seems that West is running behind on his presidential campaign, his #2020vision is still very much part of his vision board. Needless to say, being in the public eye brings a heightened level of complication (and scrutiny) to the many issues Kanye West may be facing, including a run for political office.
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