In his acceptance speech Sunday night at the Video Music Awards, Kanye West hinted at running for President. Considering the Trump phenomenon, a potential West run for president may not seem so odd. It remains a mystery how sincere West was, but he seemed serious as he announced his potential candidacy for 2020. Some fans are looking forward to how his platform will develop while others are concluding it was a clever publicity stunt.
What many are saying about Donald Trump applies to the rapper in an “on steroids” sort of way. Many doubt Trump’s ability to effectively verbalize the issues that face the nation but admire the uncanny way he can rally people to his cause with emotion and well-chosen catch-phrases. West demonstrated a similar ability in announcing his potential run for president.
The multimillionaire walked on stage Sunday night at the Video Music Awards and after accepting his award calmly announced, “I have decided, in 2020, to run for President,” then dropped the mic and walked off stage. West running for president sounded more authentic than it might have during this season of Trump surprises. Was this a stunt or have the campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Trump fueled enough craziness to actually trigger the real thing? Was this a preconceived stunt meant to leave the audience with a startling notion on their brains? Only time will tell but the suspense created by the moment only set the stage for major speculation.
Even the White House weighed in on the surprise announcement. White House press secretary Josh Earnest jokingly reacted to the announcement saying he looked …”forward to seeing what slogan he chooses to embroider on his campaign hat.” Earnest may have been joking but think about the impact of having the ready-made connections, including hat slogans and T-shirts, that come second nature to the pop star. President Obama has made some comments that imply his dissatisfaction with West’s antics. He once called West a jack— for his 2009 interruption of Taylor Swift. That too is a reminder of how the opponents have reacted to Trump’s outlandish statements.
The pop star may have borrowed from the Trump bag of tricks by bringing up the apparent controversy between Taylor Swift and him. At one point in the speech he said, “You know how many times MTV ran that footage again? Because it got them more ratings. You know how many times they announced Taylor was going to give me the award? Because it got them more ratings.” That could have been Trump saying, “The media twisted what I said. They never get it right. They’re just out for themselves.” The big difference, of course, is that West is not an official candidate for the highest office. On the other hand, he certainly knows how to get attention and draw that attention to himself.
Even though the chances of him running for president are somewhere between 0 and a negative number, his announcement made people stop to think that anything can happen in this weird political climate. A teen running as Deez Nuts is garnering 9 percent of the vote in North Carolina, Trump is leading the Republican candidates in most polls and an avowed socialist is rapidly rising in the polls. In such a climate, a presidential run by West seems plausible. For sure, there are people thinking that his announcement was for real and others may be secretly harboring a hope that it is.
A man who raps out the name Yeezus and a song entitled I am a God might just have what it takes if the voters somehow are sealed into this “emotion is more important than issues” political climate. One can only hope that West running for president is only a passing fancy that fades as the serious business of choosing a president gets underway.
By Lloyd Gardner
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