Story at a glance
- Kanye West first expressed an intention to run for president in 2020 during the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards.
- On Independence Day, West announced that he was running for president.
- Less than six months from the election, the artist has not yet officially filed for candidacy.
Somehow, although Kanye West has teased a presidential run for years, his announcement on the Fourth of July still came as a surprise.
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— ye (@kanyewest) July 5, 2020
It’s unclear whether the artist will ever actually appear on a ballot — he hasn’t yet registered with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and has already missed the deadline to file as an independent candidate in many states. But if he does, here’s what we know about his platform.
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West is not a traditional Democrat nor a Republican.
In fact, in an interview with Forbes, he declared that he is running under "the Birthday Party."
“Because when we win, it’s everybody’s birthday," West told Forbes.
The artist known for saying, "George Bush doesn't care about Black people," during a Hurricane Katrina relief concert, has since become increasingly critical of the Democratic Party. While he didn’t vote in the 2016 election, he said he would have voted for Donald Trump, but maintained that he was not a Democrat or a Republican.
Still, he told Forbes that he would run as a Republican, rather than as an independent, if Trump wasn’t running.
West is no longer supporting Donald Trump.
Despite hinting that he would postpone his campaign until 2024 at the beginning of this year, West is breaking off his support of Trump’s reelection campaign with his announcement.
“I am taking the red hat off, with this interview," he told Forbes, adding that he was dissatisfied with the president’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and protests over the death of George Floyd. “I don’t like that I caught wind that he hid in the bunker.”
West denies accusations that the announcement is a publicity stunt for his upcoming album and a form of supporting Trump by taking votes away from the Democratic nominee.
“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," he told Forbes.
West is a devout Christian.
While his music has invoked God and Christianity since his first album, "The College Dropout," West has called himself a “born again” Christian. His most recent album, "Jesus Is Born," is the debut of West's gospel group, Sunday Service Choir, which has since performed across the United States. And his religion informs his political views.
As a candidate, he is anti-abortion and anti-vaccine, and cites God as his reasoning for both those stances.
"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," he told Forbes.
West also wants to reinstate school prayer and end capital punishment, citing one of the Ten Commandments, "Thou shalt not kill." Even when it comes to more secular issues, such as taxes and environmental protections, West told Forbes he still needs to research more and consult "the strongest experts that serve God," before committing to a stance.
West wants to end police brutality, but also protect police officers.
As a Black man, West has come under a great deal of scrutiny for his remarks on race, including a 2018 comment to TMZ that, “When you hear about slavery for 400 years: For 400 years, that sounds like choice.”
West has since apologized, but some of his stances on race and policing remain controversial. He told Forbes that he wants to end police brutality, but also put importance on the fact that, “the police are people too,” citing the example of J. Alexander Kueng, a Black police officer facing charges of aiding and abetting in George Floyd's death.
"So if it’s your first day on the force and it’s your training day, and this OG accredited cop with 18 violations already starts filing out, are you going to jump in front of that person and lose your job that same day? Especially in this climate when 40,000 people lost their jobs? This man was put in a position where—and also he probably didn’t realize that the cop was going to take it that far, he probably was so scared, in shock, paralyzed, like so many Black people. I'm one of the few Black people that would speak openly like this,” West told Forbes.
Kueng, who held Floyd's back down while officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck, has been denounced by two of his own family members and publicly shamed for his involvement in Floyd’s death. But West’s statement highlights the fact that Black voters are not a monolith — and Kanye is certainly not one to conform.
West is still developing much of his platform.
He has never voted in his life, but if he becomes president, he told Forbes that he plans to run the White House in the image of Wakanda, the secret country in "Black Panther."
“Let’s see if the appointing is at 2020 or if it’s 2024—because God appoints the president. If I win in 2020 then it was God’s appointment. If I win in 2024 then that was God’s appointment," West told Forbes.
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