• Sinclair Barbehenn

Celebrities in Politics: Why Kanye 2020 Shouldn't Be a Thing

Updated: Jul 24, 2020

Picture this: Kanye West as President of the United States of America with Kim Kardashian at his side as the First Lady. 2020 is already a wack year, why not make it even more interesting?

A prominent Black rapper, songwriter, and artist; Kanye (Yeezy) already has a great deal of influence. Given the circumstances, and that he is well-liked by many, it seems worth talking about. He is a strongly religious man and a father to four beautiful children. Unlike his other two opponents he doesn’t have any sexual harassment allegations against him nor has he ever lied to Congress (North, 2020), (Paybarah, 2020), (Rubin, 2020), (Savage, 2020).

But, he is not a politician, nor has he done any political work. We need to stop normalizing the acceptance of celebrities in jobs they are not qualified for just because we like them.

Like most jobs, you would assume that in order to become the President you have to be qualified. So how can a rapper/songwriter/artist jump right into being a politician and run for President of the United States? Politics concerns the people, and they play a major part in every aspect of our lives. Because of this, it is hard not to be political and nearly impossible to be neutral.

When we talk about being professionally involved in politics such as senators, governors, mayors, or the President, we hope and assume that the people in those roles are cut out for the job, but this has not historically always been the case. Although Arnold Schwarzenegger had prior leadership experience, which lead to a successful political career as Governor of California, he was first famous for being a bodybuilder and actor. Makes sense right? Not really.

If I wanted to be a doctor, I would have to go to Med school right? No one would want me to be their doctor if I didn’t. If I wanted to be a plumber I’d have to go to vocational school, complete an apprenticeship and then get my license, or I’d end probably up failing, like Amy here.

So why should a politician be any different? I'm not saying that all politicians need to study political science or that politicians need to be political professionals their whole lives, but the higher the office, the greater the relevant experience should be and more qualifications should be required.

How did Donald J. Trump, a celebrity and a businessman, become the President of the United States in 2016? Celebrities are famous for a reason; they are well liked people and or popular because of something they do. But we could say the same about politicians, who are also famous because of something they do. Despite the massive differences between celebrities and politicians, there is still a clear overlap between the two. They both are about being popular, by which I mean “of or relating to the general public or suitable to the majority” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). But unlike celebrities, being a politician is not about being well liked because of who you are, it is about being liked for your policies and what you will do for the people and your country.

I think it is important to distinguish between the two, as it appears we have gotten confused. We are wrapped up in the idea of the President as a figurehead more than a leader and politician. President Trump was elected because he was popular and people liked him because of what he stood for. He was supported because of who he is and what he says. People liked that he is different. But what I mean by different, is he’s not a politician by trade, and certainly wasn’t before being elected, and yet here we are. And I mean really look where we are, it shows. The US is a mess and it looks just as bad as the bathroom after Amy attempted to fix the toilet.

In the 2016 Election between Clinton and Trump, a large number of people chose to abstain because they didn’t like either candidate. This tells us that people are willing to give away their right to vote and the power to impact the future. Some people are privileged enough to choose not to vote and that is silly. Voting is the foundation of our democracy and your right as a citizen. How can some people throw that away and watch while others, majority being People of Color, have lost their right to vote due to mass incarceration and restrictive voter laws?

If you really don’t know who to vote for, vote for them. Vote for the thousands of people who will struggle to or simply be unable to cast their vote this year. Your vote matters even if you don’t think it does. I feel like the 2020 Presidential Election is somewhat of a repeat of the last one. Not everyone is pro Trump nor pro Biden and people are again willing to throw away their vote because of it, which is not ok. When Kanye announced that he was running for President the Internet blew up and some people jumped on the idea. If we have a history of having celebrities in politics, it is no longer completely out of the question, which is why it is important not to joke around when Kanye West says he was running for President.

But, I don’t think he was ever serious about being President. He missed the deadline to run as an independent in most states and he waited until after the primaries were over to announce his intent to run. That was the first red flag. He tweeted his announcement on the Fourth of July weekend, when he knew he’d get lots of views, which was the second red flag. This made me realize it was honestly probably nothing more than a publicity stunt. Kanye released a tease for a new song and is said to release his album God’s Country in 2020 and recently signed a deal with Gap to sell his apparel line. This was the third red flag. Knowing how much Kanye likes the spotlight it makes sense that this is just a ploy to bring attention to himself and his work.

But like most things, it could be political. Kanye and Trump seem to be friends. One theory is that it could be a strategy to help Trump win the presidency again. A possible goal behind Kanye’s intent to run for President is to hopefully split Biden’s votes, which would indirectly give Trump votes. Kanye has since canceled this theory in an interview by stating, “I am taking the red hat off,” signifying he no longer supports President Trump. He also stated that this was not a publicity stunt by stating,"I give my album away for free."

Kanye revealed many other fun facts about his campaign for President, stating that he has never voted in his life, his campaign slogan is “YES!” under the banner of the Birthday Party, and he has chosen a preacher from Wyoming, Michelle Tidball, to be his running mate. Also, Kanye revealed in February that he was sick from COVID-19, but remains suspicious of a vaccine, stating that vaccines are “the mark of the beast," and that he believes “Planned Parenthoods have been placed inside cities by white supremacists to do the Devil’s work.” This is messed up on too many levels for me to even get into right now. What Kanye stands for is not what the United States needs and in essence, a vote for Kanye is a vote for Trump.

Apparently there is no official deadline to run for President, meaning there is a standard process, but there are also loopholes. So if he is legit, it's possible for him to run as an Independent.

As per the Constitution of the United States, there are three requirements for the President of the United States. That the candidate:

  1. Be a natural-born citizen of the United States

  2. Be at least 35 years old

  3. Have been a resident of the United States for 14 years

Kanye West meets all of these requirements. He was born in Atlanta Georgia, in 1977, and raised in Chicago; making him a 43 year old native born American who has been living in the US for over 14 years.

Once the candidate meets those requirements they can declare their intent to run and after spending or raising $5,000 or more for their campaign, and they must register with the Federal Election Commission. The Wests definitely have enough money to do that. Kanye is not only a billionaire but as of recently, so is his wife, Kim Kardashian. But that amount of wealth doesn’t equate to a successful President. Need I remind you that being a successful businessman or a popular celebrity doesn’t mean you are fit to run a country. Just take a look at how the US has handled the COVID-19 crisis compared to other countries.

People need to be reminded that being President is more than just being a political figurehead, and that being President isn’t a popularity contest. It’s not about people liking you, it’s about people liking your policies and how you will be a good leader for our country and make life better for everyone. The President has the power to make massive changes that impact millions of lives.

We need someone in Office with relevant leadership experience and qualifications. We need a President who will read briefings, who will listen to experts in their field, and who will put the country first. We need a President who is also human. We need someone who will address prominent issues in our nation and work to end systematic racism in our country, through immediate actions like defunding the police, abolishing the prison system as we know it, and abolishing ICE. We need a capable politician. We do not need, I repeat, we do not need another celebrity president.

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