By: Tori B. Powell
To some Americans, voting for rapper and fashion designer Kanye West in the upcoming presidential election is what they called a “joke” and a “wasted ballot.” For others, the husband to socialite Kim Kardashian in office is what they said could be the country’s saving grace as the United States tackles a deadly virus, social unrest, and climate emergencies.
In a Twitter post that took the nation by surprise, West announced his presidential bid on July 4, although he had flirted with the idea back in a 2015 song called “Facts.”
“We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future,” West tweeted. “I am running for president of the United States #2020VISION.”
Voters, like American University student, Tiger Mar, 22, questioned the entertainer’s legitimacy in running and said that he at first believed it to be a joke.
“It was surprising to me just for the simple fact that this is a really important election for so many people,” Mar said. “There’s a lot of multi-faceted issues at stake.”
But as the election drew closer, West began to gain momentum as he tweeted more often about his candidacy progress and released promotional videos.
The performer’s main campaign points, according to his website, focus on strengthening the economy, religion, education reform, maintaining national defense, legal and policing reform, environmental protections, foreign affairs, and preserving the arts. With each listed point, West included a quote from the Bible.
The rapper’s reported devotion to faith is what grabbed Mississippi Christian pastor Jonathan Taylor’s, 24, attention.
“Regardless of your politics, I think that he has the potential to bring us back to uniting the United States of America,” Taylor said. “As one of the most famous people in the world and a man of faith, it’s what this country needs.”
Taylor, who voted for Trump in 2016, said that he’s reluctant to do so again due to what he calls the president’s “prideful” morals and “inappropriate” behaviors displayed over the past four years. As for Biden, Taylor said that the former vice president’s standpoint on protecting abortion rights is what rules out his chances of voting for him. Taylor said that he plans to vote in person on Election Day for West, and if not, Trump comes as a close second.
For others, like PhD computer science candidate at Stanford University Mikey Fischer, 30, it’s West’s successful career in music that’s won him his vote.
In the election he said that the most important issue to him is health care, but that foreign policy follows behind, although there are plenty of important reformations, in his opinion, that the country needs to repair.
While West’s website doesn’t detail much about his strategic plans to address the pandemic which has claimed 225,985 American lives as of October 28 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fischer said that the star has “excellent policies around restoring the economy and reducing student debt, reducing incarceration rates, and providing better legal support for people who can’t afford it.”
Fischer said that he is still figuring out his voting method, weighing between dropping off his ballot or doing so in person, but will nonetheless be writing in West’s name from California.
“The two-party system is very broken, and I think that we should normalize voting for what you believe in,” Fischer said. “People should vote for who they’d like to see become president and I don’t think that they’re taking away a vote by voting for someone who they’re convicted to.”
He said that too many Americans are tied down by their registered party despite whether they actually believe in their policies or not. For him, this election means, what he calls, making a “nonpartisan political change,” which means advocating for authenticity beyond the restraints of tradition.
If West won the presidential election next week, traditions would certainly be broken, as he would be the first rapper to be the nation’s commander in chief.
But the race to the White House has had its’ setbacks for the famous fashion designer. His presidential bid announcement came too late with too few signatures for certain state election committee guidelines. In Wisconsin, he reportedly missed the mark by only one to two minutes, according to POLITICO.
West has instead urged fans to write in his name on ballots and even demonstrated doing so on his Twitter account, where many of his campaign announcements have taken place.
His nontypical methods are why some voters like photographer Manuel Richard Timm, 21, have created conspiracies alleging that the entertainer’s campaign is a political strategy masterminded by the Republican Party in an attempt to split Democratic voters.
“Over the past couple of years, Trump and Kanye have had this sort of buddy-buddy relationship and Kanye West supports a lot of the ideas and beliefs that Trump has,” Timm said.
On January 1, 2019, West tweeted “Trump all day,” and has also tweeted about his love for the president’s Make America Great Again apparel before. West also visited Trump at the White House Oval Office on October 11, 2018 and posed for pictures with the president. West defended his support for Trump in an interview with GQ saying: “I didn’t intend for anything except to speak my mind and express how I felt. I have no intention other than to be free, and I don’t intend to be free — I just simply am.”
Timm referenced West’s previous praise for the president as a warning to his supporters, claiming that the rapper is untrustworthy.
“There’s some dark things that go on in politics and I wouldn’t doubt that there’s a deeper meaning behind Kanye’s campaign that Trump is behind” the Arizona first-time voter alleged.
As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Timm said that he has already cast his ballot for Joe Biden and said that the issues of this election are too important to make symbolic gestures against the systemic voting issues that he agrees are present in the country.
Taylor on the other hand said that in a free country, he’s excited to see candidates like West running for president and said that he’ll see what happens on Election Day.