In the all-American tradition of celebrities running for president, rapper and designer Kanye West has announced his presidential candidacy. The cryptic announcement has set off a firestorm of confusion, amusement, and panic across the internet.
The Tweet to Start It All
On Saturday night, Kanye West took his Twitter shenanigans to a new level, announcing his intention to run for president.
“We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States! #2020VISION”
The tweet immediately led to memes, support, and condemnation.
Kim Kardashian West, reality star and Kanye’s spouse, quickly retweeted the announcement with an American flag for the caption.
Tech mogul Elon Musk also retweeted Kanye’s announcement, adding, “You have my full support!” Only days earlier, the two had posted a picture together, with a caption that read, “When you go to your boy’s house and you’re both wearing orange.” Irreverent Twitter feeds and inflammatory political commentary are a trademark for both West and Musk.
But not everyone was so supportive. Many have blasted Kanye for treating such an important election with nonchalance. Ahmed Baba, writer and founder at Rantt Media, tweeted:
“Kanye West and Elon Musk are treating the most consequential election of our lifetime as a joke – consequences their money will shield them from.
We’re sick of being trolled by oversized egos.
Step up in a meaningful way to help us defeat Trump or sit down quietly.”
Publicity Stunt or Political Maneuvering?
The timing, wording, and context of this announcement have raised more than a few eyebrows.
West recently released a new single, “Wash Us in the Blood.” He also teased a new album, God’s Country, less than a week before his presidential tweet. And only a few weeks before that, West announced a new clothing partnership with Gap. All in all, the timing of this announcement suggests a publicity stunt.
West’s past involvement with politics is also raising some questions. President Trump and Kanye West have been friendly for some time now. West has worn a Make America Great Again hat on numerous occasions, notably when he visited Trump in the Oval Office in 2018. Whether he still supports the president or plans to launch an opposing campaign is yet to be answered.
Meanwhile, Democrats are concerned that a West candidacy could draw young and Black voters away from presumptive nominee Joe Biden. On the other hand, it’s very clear that West is a fiscal conservative, meaning he could attract a small number of Republican voters, namely the few Black voters who supported Trump in 2016.
Is He Too Late?
For the time being, it’s still unclear whether West actually intends to run in this cycle. While he has previously discussed making a run for the White House in 2024, the use of the hashtag #2020Vision suggests he might be competing in an election that is only four months away. Either way, West has not yet taken the measures necessary to technically qualify for the ballot.
West’s announcement has come quite late in the game. He’s already missed a few key deadlines, and it’s now too late to file as an independent candidate in the following states:
- Indiana, June 30 registration deadline.
- Maine, June 1 registration deadline.
- New Mexico, June 25 registration deadline.
- New York, May 26 registration deadline.
- North Carolina, March 3 registration deadline.
- Texas, May 11 registration deadline.
But he can still apply to appear on ballots in most states. Still, seven states have July registration deadlines. If he’s serious about this decision, he’ll have to take quick action, including getting thousands of people to sign petitions in each state.
West has also yet to register with the Federal Election Commission, but there is no deadline for that requirement.