Kanye West yesterday launched his Presidential campaign for the upcoming 2020 elections. Abandoning his hitherto vocal support of President Trump, and rejecting an embrace of his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, he opted to enter the fray himself. Speaking to a small crowd in South Carolina, without the use of a microphone, he set about delivering a rambling tirade, during which he visibly broke down and cried, to the point of literal hysteria. During the announcement he rubbished the emancipatory efforts of Harriet Tubman, explored in detail his own familial struggles with abortion, and declared women ought to be awarded cash payments of $1 Million for each child they bring to term.
WATCH: Kanye's campaign launch meltdown
This set against the backdrop of his having failed to register in good time, meaning there are at least six states whose ballots he will be absent from come election day, including New York and Texas. Yet for all this his campaign is the beneficiary of a swathe of endorsements, from the inventor and billionaire Elon Musk, to fellow rappers like 2 Chainz, and sports personalities such as Dez Bryant, and of course his wife, whose own wealth is set to underwrite Kanye’s campaign. Kanye 2020 is a tragedy in the making, within which candidate Kanye is merely a sideshow. The real tragedy is that the anti-politics mood, and the disillusionment with democracy that is sweeping America, makes otherwise intelligent people thing Kanye 2020 is an optimal outcome.
In many ways the election of President Trump was an act of ‘anti-politics’. The business mogul had been a fixture of reality television for some time, as creator and host of ‘The Apprentice’ he had spent decades touring chat show studios. But it would be disingenuous to say “America elected a reality show star” of Trump, as it is to say “America elected an actor” when referring to Reagan. Donald Trump has been involved in politics, supporting both Democrats, Republicans, and even the Reform Party for decades, and had been toying with the idea of a presidential run for the best part of 40 years before his 2015 announcement.
Donald Trump interviewed by Oprah in 1988 on his prospective Presidential bid
For example, in 1987 Donald Trump took out full page newspaper adverts criticising the Bush (H) administration’s foreign policy, particularly in relation to the Gulf, for which he was interviewed by Larry King on his position, a position which has remained consistent on ever since. Similarly, Trump has been solid on trade, criticising free trade agreements with poorer countries, publicly and vocally, since the 80’s, if not before. These two positions have emerged as pillars of his presidency, as the past few years have seen major withdrawals, and widespread renegotiation of existing trade deals.
Donald Trump on his 1987 intervention into foreign policy
Of course, Trump has flip flopped on a number of issues. Born and bred in New York he was, and probably still is a liberal at heart, from gay rights to abortion he’s more closely aligned to the Democrats than the Republicans. But his election campaign marked an about turn on his previously held liberal stances, particularly on the issue of abortion, about which he has become increasingly reactionary in order to court the so called ‘Bible belt’, who make up a key part of the Republican Party voter base. So yes, ostensibly America did elect a ‘reality star’ but they elected a reality star with a half century record of business, from real estate to casinos, and some 40 years of engagement in the political arena, much of which was marked by unerringly consistent policy positions.
The same can not be said of Kanye
West has spoken at length about criminal justice reform, legalising cannabis, and bringing an end to capital punishment, and often poetically so. But every display of his eloquence and understanding belies mountains of discarded policy positions, inane ramblings and outlandish conspiracy theories. For example he refers to vaccines as the “Mark of the Beast”. Real Clear Politics characterised his industrial policy as a call to “return to a pre-industrial agriculturally organised society”. He wants Israel to pay for the entire continent of Africa to not have to work for 6 months. He believes “homicide is a product of the welfare state”. The list is endless.
The tragedy of Kanye 2020 is not the humiliation of one man, but that anti-politics has become so prevalent that this humiliation is being beamed into every household in the western world, underwritten and legitimised by people who ought to know better.