Is It Time to Take Kanye West Seriously as a Presidential Candidate?

Kanye West has a history of making outrageous claims, and — for the most part — fans and critics alike are more likely to roll their eyes than to take him too seriously. However, his latest talk about running for the highest office in the land certainly sounds pretty serious, and it wouldn’t be as unprecedented as it might first appear. Is it finally time to start taking West’s claim that he’s running for President of the United States seriously?

Kanye West has a history of outrageous claims and actions

Kanye West speaks during a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in the Oval office.
Kanye West | Oliver Contreras – Pool/Getty Images

West is no stranger to the spotlight, and he seems to intentionally seek out controversy with his bold claims and actions. In this way, a future as a political figure might be familiar territory for the rapper.

He’s not afraid to speak his mind, and he would already be vetted against most of the smear campaigns opponents would try to throw at him. After all, critics have already dug up information about his mental health, his financial status, and his past relationships. It’s difficult to think of a campaign scandal that would take West by surprise. 

Some of his past outrageous claims include arguing that he is a billionaire. While the musical artist and fashion icon has certainly amassed himself an impressive fortune — and married into a family with even more money — he is not a billionaire. And claims to the contrary have gotten him ridiculed. 

West’s latest antics center around his new persona. As he changes his public image to one rooted around a very consumer-driven version of Christianity, West has even toyed with the idea of changing his name to better reflect this “new” self. With some seeing West’s latest antics as dangerous — and maybe even cult-like — it’s clear that any presidential run would be up against a lot of pushback. 

Kanye West been talking about running for president for a long time

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While West’s latest comments may seem like they came out of nowhere, he actually has a history of talking about running for president. His political ambitions may be traced all the way back to his “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” comment in 2005.

West has certainly commented on sociopolitical issues throughout his time in the celebrity spotlight. Sometimes, like when he said that slavery was a choice, these comments have gotten him a lot of negative attention. 

As early as 2015, West alluded to aspirations for a presidential run, and his unlikely (and controversial) friendship with Donald Trump has made that ambition even more complicated. 

Kanye West sounds serious about running

While it may be easy to write off West’s latest antics as just another flashy moment in a long line of surprises, he certainly sounds serious about his goals. When he made the announcement about a potential 2024 run, he was met with laughter from the audience. 

He responded: “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!”

West certainly isn’t going to use humility as part of his platform. He went on to explain: “I think if my family wasn’t so . . . if they didn’t work so hard and they weren’t so omnipresent, maybe I would just rest on my laurels of just being the greatest artist of human existence, and that would just be enough. But that’s shown that that is not enough.” 

West is not the only celebrity who has fans wondering if they’re planning a leap from entertainment to politics. Will Smith, Ben Affleck, and Oprah Winfrey are all possibilities as well. Even more importantly, many celebrities have successfully transitioned into politicians including Ronald Reagan, Clint Eastwood, and Al Franken.  

While West’s presidential run is not impossible, it does seem unlikely that a man who gets so obviously flustered by attempts to control his image and his actions would want to put himself in a position with that much international scrutiny. Perhaps he will find a way to influence the issues he cares about without getting quite so involved in the process.