Why would anyone give this up to live in the White House?Photo by Marco Torres
Although some may be handling the twists and turns of 2020 better than others, it seems that as a collective our BS detector has broken entirely. One only has to look at the responses to a tweet sent out by Kanye West over the weekend that he has decided to run for President of the United States. If you believe the most troubled, it wasn’t fireworks over our cities this weekend but the sky falling itself as Kanye, in fewer than 300 characters, sent us marching toward another four years of a Trump presidency. While not everyone is so outwardly pessimistic, there certainly a large number of people who are, at the very least, upset with Mr. West. This leads us to one simple question:
Why is anyone taking this seriously?
Everyone understands what we’re living through right now is historic, for a multitude of reasons, few of them good. Stories that we’ve forgotten about by now — remember when the U.S. almost went to war with Iran? — would have been front-page news for months in any other year. It’s easy then to understand why people would attach significant importance to relatively unimportant things, such as a known showman trying to drum up interest in a forthcoming prospect by “running for President.” In any other year, you’d look at that tweet, roll your eyes, and think “Kanye gonna Kanye,” before going about your day. Now you’re wasting time and energy arguing about something that is almost certainly not a real thing.
But let’s indulge in this notion that Kanye is serious about wanting to be President. What are the arguments against him?
Do we really have any grasp on West’s intelligence? You may think he has bad takes, but we’re talking about an office that has, for decades now, been filled with people who have a sincere belief that bombing people who are no threat to us is a better use of our enormous wealth than making sure its citizens have healthcare. Kanye doesn’t get everything right. None of us do.
He has no experience.
None is necessary. Take this one up with those Founding Fathers you’ve been fawning over in Hamilton. Kanye, as far as we know, meets the extremely low barrier to run for the office.
He’s an egocentric narcissist.
So is every single person who runs for President. No “normal” person wakes up and thinks, “I should be in charge of everything.”
That said, West’s “candidacy” has been enlightening in a few ways, not entirely unlike what we learned about the United States when Trump ran. People who a week ago thought the youth vote didn’t matter because the youths don’t vote are now shaking at the idea that Kanye is going to steal votes from someone they weren’t going to vote for anyway (because they weren’t going to vote). Pundits who insisted that everyone had to rally around Biden because African American voters decided he was the guy are already looking to use West a scapegoat for the fall of the Democratic party. And then there are those who think the President is too stupid to tie his shoelaces but think he’s playing 5D chess by convincing Kanye to jump into the race.
Then there’s the whole “Kanye is crazy” contingent. You know the people who will post on World Mental Health Day that they’re there to support their friends no matter what but apparently think that having bipolar disorder means you shouldn’t run for President. How do they plan on enforcing that for every election moving forward? No clue, but if that’s the path they want to go down they should at least have the courage to say it with their chest instead of beating around the bush on the subject.
And yet the only thing this energy is really powering — this post included — the Kanye West Industrial Complex. Kanye is the master of going from barely being in the public eye to getting everyone talking about him at his command. He is the definition of “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.” Even if you’re tweeting because you think he’s making a mockery of Presidential politics, you’re still tweeting about him. That’s how Kanye wins. He doesn’t want to run the country; he just wants your attention.
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Cory Garcia is a Contributing Editor for the Houston Press. He once won an award for his writing, but he doesn't like to brag about it. If you're reading this sentence, odds are good it's because he wrote a concert review you don't like or he wanted to talk pro wrestling.