Kanye West: I'm taking off the red hat and thinking about running as an independent

Kanye West: I'm taking off the red hat and thinking about running as an independent

Lot going on here, as tends to be the case when West starts talking. “I am taking the red hat off, with this interview,” he told Forbes in a lengthy piece today about his nascent presidential bid. When asked why, he answered, “It looks like one big mess to me… I don’t like that I caught wind that [Trump] hid in the bunker.”

But he’s far more critical of Biden than he is of Trump, calling POTUS “special” and “the closest president we’ve had in years to allowing God to still be part of the conversation.”

The best thing about Kanye’s flirtation with politics is his righteous indignation at the idea that black Americans should be expected to vote a certain way. He describes his famous donning of the MAGA hat as “a protest to the segregation of votes in the Black community” and complains more than once about Biden’s infamous comment that “you ain’t black” unless he support him this fall:

“That is a form of racism and white supremacy and white control to say that all Black people need to be Democrat and to assume that me running is me splitting the vote. All of that information is being charged up on social media platforms by Democrats. And Democrats used to tell me, the same Democrats have threatened me…. The reason why this is the first day I registered to vote is because I was scared. I was told that if I voted on Trump my music career would be over. I was threatened into being in one party. I was threatened as a celebrity into being in one party. I was threatened as a Black man into the Democratic party. And that’s what the Democrats are doing, emotionally, to my people. Threatening them to the point where this white man can tell a Black man if you don’t vote for me, you’re not Black.”

That’s the good part of the interview. The bad part is that policy is an afterthought to his presidential aspirations, which is perfectly true to the spirit of America 2020 and and yet highly sub-optimal in a healthy country. Foreign policy? “I haven’t developed it yet.” Tax policy? “I haven’t done enough research on that yet.” Policy generally? “I don’t know if I would use the word policy for the way I would approach things. I don’t have a policy when I went to Nike and designed Yeezy and went to Louis and designed a Louis Vuitton at the same time. It wasn’t a policy, it was a design. We need to innovate the design to be able to free the mind at this time.”

As I said a few days ago, this is a guy who clearly wants to be a religious leader but is channeling his grandiose ambitions into politics because that’s what modern American culture prescribes for people with grandiose ambitions. His running mate is a Wyoming “Bible life coach,” in case any further evidence was needed. He explains his sudden decision to run by saying, “God just gave me the clarity and said it’s time” and “If I win in 2020 then it was God’s appointment.” His commentary throughout the Forbes interview is far more religiously than politically geared. Nothing wrong with that, but if he’s uninterested in policy then he’s barking up the wrong tree ambition-wise. Even Trump had certain policies he was passionate about, like protectionism and withdrawal abroad, when he ran in 2016.

So much for the good and the bad. There’s also the ugly:

“It’s so many of our children that are being vaccinated and paralyzed… So when they say the way we’re going to fix Covid is with a vaccine, I’m extremely cautious. That’s the mark of the beast. They want to put chips inside of us, they want to do all kinds of things, to make it where we can’t cross the gates of heaven. I’m sorry when I say they, the humans that have the Devil inside them. And the sad thing is that, the saddest thing is that we all won’t make it to heaven, that there’ll be some of us that do not make it. Next question.”

Asked about his proposal for curing coronavirus, he called for prayer and said, “We need to stop doing things that make God mad.” Which, in his defense, isn’t all that different from certain woke approaches to the virus.

And then, because Kanye is Kanye, there’s a certain amount of garden-variety kookery where you’re left wondering if he’s all there: “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…That is a positive idea: you got Kanye West, one of the most powerful humans—I’m not saying the most because you got a lot of alien level superpowers and it’s only collectively that we can set it free.” He also promises to reopen the NBA “from Nigeria to Nanchang” once he’s president and reiterates three times that he loves China.

If you thought there was never a dull moment during Trump’s presidency, just wait for the wild, wild West administration.

He told Forbes that he has 30 days to make a decision on running and might sue if he misses the ballot deadline, alleging that coronavirus made it difficult this year. David Byler of WaPo wrote yesterday about his fledgling campaign with a gentle reminder that Kanye isn’t actually very popular. That’s not to say he can’t pull enough votes from one candidate or the other (likely Biden) to play spoiler, just that the demand for West as a public figure outside the hip-hop context may be more limited than everyone thinks. Here’s how he polled two years ago at the height of his MAGA period:

Just nine percent of black adults rated him at least somewhat favorably. Less than a quarter of young adults (21 percent) did so, almost indistinguishable from the number of senior citizens (20 percent) who did the same. He doesn’t need to be popular to affect the outcome of the election, but his grandiosity is such that I think he might be legitimately surprised and dismayed if he ran and discovered he was a five-percent niche candidate. Would he and his “Birthday Party” (“Because when we win, it’s everybody’s birthday”) campaign steadily for three months to win five percent of the vote or would he quit after a month once his polling didn’t improve?

Given how low opinion of him was already among black Americans because of his friendliness with Trump, I’d be curious to see how they’d react to him if he jumped into the race and saved his harshest criticism for the Democratic nominee, as he did in today’s interview. Suspicions that he’s a stalking horse for Trump would dog his candidacy from its first minute to its last. If he actually succeeded in tipping the election to Trump in close states, he’d be despised by liberals like few other figures in American life.

Stay tuned. Exit quotation from the man himself: “Planned Parenthoods have been placed inside cities by white supremacists to do the Devil’s work.”

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David Strom 3:21 PM on March 24, 2023