In 2015, when Kanye West accepted the Video Vanguard lifetime-achievement honor at the MTV Video Music Awards, he wrapped up his rambling, 11-minute speech with this declaration: “And yes, as you probably could have guessed by this moment, I have decided in 2020 to run for president.” Spectators in the Microsoft Theater guffawed at the time, but it seems like the “Power” rapper wasn’t joking — as he celebrated the 4th of July this weekend by announcing on social media that he is actually launching a last-minute presidential campaign.
“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,” West posted early Saturday evening, quickly setting off fireworks across the Twitterverse.
With the presidential election only four months away, it is unclear if West is serious about making it onto the 2020 ballot, or if that’s even possible. (Several fans referenced his sophomore album’s title in Twitter jokes about his “late registration.”) Last November at the Fast Company Innovation Festival, West had once again declared his intention to run for president — but in 2024. That speech also elicited crowd laughter, to which West retorted, “What y’all laughing at? We would create so many jobs! I’m not going to run, I’m going to walk. When you see headlines saying ‘Kanye’s crazy’ — one in three African Americans are in jail and all the celebrities are in jail also because they can’t say nothing, they got no opinion, they’re so scared!”
On Saturday, many people on Twitter were still snickering at West’s latest campaign announcement (some replied with memes suggesting that West’s nemesis dating back to the 2009 VMAs, the newly politically vocal Taylor Swift, would be a more qualified candidate). Many others understandably assumed that this was all just some publicity stunt to promote new ‘Ye music dropping soon. And others seemed excited by the news, namely West’s pal and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who said West has his “full support.”
However, many other alarmed tweeters expressed the valid concern that if West really were to run, presumably on an independent ticket, he could siphon votes from Democratic nominee Joe Biden, split the vote, and thus ensure President Trump’s reelection — and they theorized that that is indeed the rapper’s true agenda.
West has recently distanced himself from President Trump, with the lifestyle blog High Snobiety even reporting that he was supposedly faking his Trump support all along order to get innocent Black prisoners out jail. (West’s wife Kim Kardashian West, an advocate for prison reform, met with Trump in 2018 to argue for the commutation of the sentences of Chris Young and Alice Marie Johnson, and she was instrumental in persuading Trump to support the First Step Act, a bipartisan criminal justice bill passed by Congress in December 2018.) But Kanye has certainly shown enthusiasm for Trump in the past, proudly wearing a “Make America Great Again” red hat and even meeting with the president on several occasions.
Trump and Kanye’s extraordinary bromance
Here’s a look at how Donald Trump and Kanye West’s unlikely friendship has flourished since the 2016 election.