Is “Kanye For President” Really That Far-Fetched An Idea?

Photo: Chelsea Lauren/Rex/REX USA.
Last night, Kanye West set a new bar for awards acceptance speeches when he announced that he would seek the nation's highest office five years from now. "I don't know what I finna lose after this. It don't matter, though; It's not about me. It's about ideas," the rapper said. "New ideas. People with ideas. People who believe in truth. And yes, as you probably could've guessed by this moment, I have decided in 2020 to run for president." (Metaphorically drops mic. Actually exits stage.) It's unclear how serious Yeezus really is about a bid for the White House, especially when you consider some of the choice phrases from earlier on in his speech. But he certainly wouldn't be the first celeb to leverage a highly public profile into a political campaign — or the worst, for that matter. Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Sonny Bono are just a few examples of famous faces who have sought — and secured — positions of public office in California. And, of course, Ronald Reagan got his pre-presidential start in show business, appearing in movies and on television for the better part of 30 years before the Oval Office was even a sparkle in his eye. What's more, Kanye — a self-admitted non-politician — might not be half bad as a presidential candidate. Sure, his bravado is reminiscent of a certain other contender who is currently in the running; and yes, West, like Trump, suffers from a particularly acute case of foot-in-mouth syndrome. But there's an attractive sincerity about the musician, who isn't afraid to call out the issues as he sees them. Remember: Almost 10 years ago, long before marrying into American reality TV royalty or posing as Jesus on the cover of Rolling Stone, West made a solid point about how victims of Hurricane Katrina were being treated in New Orleans. "George Bush doesn't care about Black people," the award-winning artist said on live television. And while it wasn't exactly sophisticated or nuanced commentary, he did make an impassioned statement about a pressing issue facing America: that racism is institutional in the U.S., and that vulnerable populations are consistently underserved and under-protected. For better or worse, Kanye West says what he thinks, a characteristic sorely missing among many U.S. legislators. While that kind of directness doesn't necessarily make him a serious contender for president, there is something undeniably refreshing about West's compulsion to abandon rhetoric and speak off the cuff. Inevitably, pot-stirring statements would be among the things that would ultimately sink the artist's campaign. But — even if Kanye never made it on to the Democratic ticket — he would likely bring up plenty of issues that politicians might otherwise sweep under the rug. American voters could use an instigator of his ilk. Plus — on a totally separate and slightly more frivolous note— Kim Kardashian, North, and baby No. 2 would make a pretty adorable first family.

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