On July 4th, Kanye West announced he was running for President of the United States, leaving many to wonder why, and if he can even do that. On the surface, West checks off all the initial boxes needed to become President of the United States. He is a natural-born citizen from birth, at least 35 years old, and has been a resident of the U.S. for over 14 years. But unfortunately for the Jesus Is King artist, there are more hurdles and rules that he’ll need to pass before his name ends up on the ballot on November 3rd.
After making his bombshell announcement via Twitter, West sat down with Forbes Magazine and outlined what exactly his campaign, and the White House, would look like under President West. The rapper and producer, who registered to vote a week ago, in summary, is pro-life, has no foreign policy mapped out, and has said he is suspicious of a coronavirus vaccine. West also added that he plans to run the White House on the Wakanda management model (yes, the fictitious country from the Marvel movie Black Panther).
“A lot of Africans do not like the movie [Black Panther] and representation of themselves in…Wakanda,” West told Forbes, “But I’m gonna use the framework of Wakanda right now because it’s the best explanation of what our design group is going to feel like in the White House.”
He also revealed in the interview that his running mate will be Michelle Tidball, a preacher from Wyoming who has described herself as a “biblical life coach” and said he would focus on ending police brutality and is against the death penalty.
There has been speculation on whether West running is a PR move to promote his new album, but the artist has denied that his possible campaign is a publicity stunt and that he is serious about running for president. That being said, what exactly would it take for West’s name to show up on the ballot in November?
Officially, since his announcement on July 4th, he has 30 days to make a final decision about running for president. In the U.S., there are a few ways you can run for president. You can run on the Democratic ticket which Joe Biden is doing. You can run on the Republican ticket which Donald Trump is doing. You can run as on the independent ticket, or you can write yourself in, which is still not allowed in several states. West told Forbes earlier this week that he would run as a Republican if Trump wasn’t there and as an Independent if Trump is there.
Since it doesn’t look like Trump is going anywhere, West will probably run as an independent. However, there is the fact that he already missed the filing deadline to appear on the ballot in several states such as New York, North Carolina, and Texas. Also, an independent presidential candidate must petition for placement on the general election ballot in all 50 states as well as Washington D.C. Some states may allow an independent candidate to pay a filing fee instead of submitting a petition. In California, where West lives, the signature requirement is 196,964 and the deadline is August 7th.
This isn’t the first time West has thought about sitting in the Oval Office. Before announcing his candidacy on Twitter, West had previously hinted that he was interested in running in 2024. But ultimately, West said the decision is up to God. “Let’s see if the appointing is at 2020 or if it’s 2024,” West said, “Because God appoints the president. If I win in 2020 then it was God’s appointment. If I win in 2024 then that was God’s appointment.”
It also doesn’t appear that the incumbent, President Trump, is too concerned about West as an opponent for November, and said in an interview with Real Clear Politics that Kanye West candidacy in 2020 would be a great trial run. “It’d have to be limited to certain states because in some states the deadline has been missed,” Trump said, “If he did it, he would have to view this as a trial run for what’s going to happen in four years.”
“When I’m president, let’s also have some fun”
Finally, West plans to run under a new banner, the Birthday Party. “Because if we win,” West said, “it’s everybody’s birthday.” This is paired with his campaign slogan of “YES!” “Well, my second album is called Late Registration. I got a rap . . . The other thing is, my campaign is Kanye West YES, not YEP, not YEAH. YES. YES. YES. . . . When I’m president, let’s also have some fun. Let’s get past all the racism conversation, let’s empower people with 40 acres and a mule, let’s give some land, that’s the plan.” West said in his interview with Forbes. While his wife Kim Kardashian West hasn’t publicly made a statement on the announcement, West told Forbes that she is one of his advisors along with Elon Musk and that they have been talking about this for years.
Although West may not even show up on the ballot in the November election, many are concerned people will just vote for West as a joke, much like the Harambe for president campaign in 2016. Harambe, the gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo that was shot and killed after a 3-year-old boy fell into his exhibit in May 2016, was rumored to have 11,000 to 15,000 votes in the 2016 Presidential Election. Although it was later proven that Harambe had nowhere near that many votes and that nine states in the U.S. don’t even allow write-ins at all voting in the U.S., and anywhere for that matter, is not a joke. And in such a contentious election year, voting has never been more important. It is also an important reminder that voting is not a constitutional right globally yet. In Saudi Arabia, women got the right to vote in 2015. And many countries, such as Kazakhstan, Iran, and China remain Anocracies – governments that are more authoritarian than democratic.
If one thing has become clear out of all of this, it is that the term ‘celebrity’ and ‘presidential candidate’ have become interchangeable. Now, experienced politicians are becoming less and less trusted by the people, and celebrities think that having money earns you the right to run a country.
By Olivia Eddy