Despite Reports, Kanye West Apparently Still Running for President
He has added strong anti-abortion and anti-vaccine views to his public profile, and said it was racist to think blacks needed to vote Democrat.
[Correction: Despite widespread reports based on on-record assurances from a named campaign advisor, Kanye West is still going ahead with specific actions to run for president, including—according to Fox News, which insists it has seen the document—filing a "statement of candidacy" with the Federal Election Commission. He also has gotten on the ballot in Oklahoma, though as an independent and not with his planned "Birthday Party." West did not choose to emulate Donald Trump, as he allowed false reports of his non-candidacy to spread yesterday without tweeting that it was Fake News. The original post follows as written for context on this unusual campaign. The original, no longer correct, headline to this piece read "Kanye West No Longer Running for President."]
Kanye West is now reported to not be running for president. The controversial hip-hop artist and fashion mogul made a very late in the game announcement of the intention of a presidential run on July 4. As this Reason article reports, had he chosen to pursue that goal as an independent, it was not too late for him to get on a majority of state ballots if he was willing to scramble and spend money to gather petitions.
In the only substantive interview about politics after his announcement, with Forbes, West said he intended to start a whole new party to be called the Birthday Party, which would unfortunately for him, if attempted, present in many states harder and earlier deadlines for actually getting on the ballot, making the whole effort a likely waste of time.
Still, he only commenced with part of the necessary Federal Elections Commission filing and did not seem to begin all the state-level petition drives that an actual run would have required. West told Forbes in essence that he figured he'd be able to sue his way on to ballots (Forbes paraphrased him merely using the word "argue" but such arguments would need to be made in court to be effective), never mind official filing deadlines. (The Libertarian Party had some success this year with that strategy in Illinois, but it was a risky stance had West really wanted to contend.)
Since he would ostensibly have been trying to unseat Donald Trump, West rescinded his previous loud public support for the president to Forbes, though the only quasi-substantive thing said against him was, "I don't like that I caught wind that he hid in the bunker."
West agreed that his actual effect in the race would likely harm Democratic candidate Joe Biden more than Trump, but posited it as a feature, not a bug: his whole point, with his public MAGA campaign, was proving blacks were not required to be Democrats. "To say that the Black vote is Democratic is a form of racism and white supremacy," he told Forbes.
As discussed in my February 2019 Reason feature trying to make sense of West's pro-Trump dabblings, besides generic appreciation of the man's "dragon energy" the only actual policy stances West seemed serious about was criminal justice reform to get more people out of prison, support for returning jobs to American cities, and the very un-Trump causes of asylum for those "fighting to protect their children from violence and war" and "common-sense gun control."
To Forbes, he added strong anti-abortion and anti-vaccine beliefs to his set of political ideas. But mostly he seemed to think in some inchoate way that he, and also Trump, were "special" in a way Biden was not. ("And Joe Biden? Like, come on man, please. You know? Obama's special. Trump's special. We say Kanye West is special. America needs special people that lead. Bill Clinton? Special. Joe Biden's not special.")
Randall Lane, who nabbed that Forbes interview, writes now that it all seems to be over that another fresh obsession of West's is something he could pursue running for president or not: making it easier for more people to vote.