As #FvckTheFourth trended on Twitter on Independence Day, many of the willfully ignorant people using the hashtag fail to realize that the reason the hashtag is able to exist is because of the freedoms provided to them in America. Another example of that same freedom arose on the night of Independence Day, as Hip-Hop sensation Kanye West announced that he is running for the United States presidency. In many other countries around the world an entertainer, a Black entertainer at that, would not be able to run for that nation’s presidency.
(Now, he did not actually say he will be running for the Oval Office this year. He ended his tweet by using the hashtag #2020VISION. That is not a clear announcement that he is running this year, but time will tell. He did say previously that he would run in 2024.)
Kanye’s only option to run for POTUS would be to run as an independent. The deadline to file has already passed in 6 states; Indiana, Maine, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, and Texas, which have a combined 102 electoral votes. Reaching the 270 electoral votes needed would be a mighty tall task. Also, running independently is very expensive. He just achieved billionaire status. He might not want to relinquish that title so soon in what could be an impromptu presidential run. Do we have another Ross Perot or George Wallace? Doubtful, but Kanye will impact this election in an immense way.
Donald Trump and Joe Biden are both slapped with the same labels: “old”, “White supremacist”, “not mentally fit for President”. Because of these labels, there are barriers impeding their impact in certain areas of society. Exhibit A is the Black community.
Both parties realize how crucial the Black vote is in the upcoming election, especially in today's racially charged social climate. According to Census data, Black voter turnout decreased from 2012 to 2016.
The graph above shows that non-Hispanic Black voter turnout decreased sharply, going from a record-high 66.6% down to 59.6%. Non-Hispanic White voter percentage never dipped below 60% during the same time period.
This is where Kanye will have a profound impact. He will elicit action from Blacks who were absent from the polls the last go around. Kanye has always had a knack for dropping thought-provoking gems in his music. This is illustrated by his verse on the Ty Dolla $ign single “Ego Death”. He ends his verse with, “All these admirations, likes, and false validations/Feeding to our ego, talk for somethin’, negro/One in four get locked up, your girlfriend get knocked up/Plan B was they Plan A, to lower the count of our families/To lower the count on our damn votes”. Music, Hip-Hop music especially, is a great tool (or weapon, depending on how you look at it) in a politician’s arsenal to garner Black support. Many studies have been done on the seductive nature of music and how influencers use it to control the masses. Hip-Hop was certainly one of the forces that propelled Barack Obama into office. All of the celebrity endorsements turned Obama into an overnight celebrity. With an album supposedly on the way, Kanye could use his music platform to inspire Blacks who did not vote in the 2016 Clinton/Trump election to exercise the power of the 15th Amendment.
Kanye’s most recent political antics leads us to believe he is conservative (if not, a full-blown Republican). Contrary to the wave of music being churned out lately, he is not the only Hip-Hop star with conservative thoughts. Lil’ Wayne has definitely rubbed the vastly liberal Hip-Hop audience the wrong way, especially with his comments about the George Floyd murder. In an Instagram Live conversation with fellow Hip-Hop cohort Fat Joe, Wayne said, “If we want to place the blame on anybody, it should be ourselves for not doing more than what we think we’re doing”. This is a sentiment shared by many Blacks on the right. Kanye and Wayne have worked together numerous times in the past. What if the two them were to orchestrate a conservative movement in Hip-Hop? Both Ye and Wayne have audiences who skew younger, typically 13-30 years of age. The 18-29 Black age group voted nearly 6.5% less in 2016 than in 2012. That is a swing of hundreds of thousands of votes. Lil’ Wayne does have an album on the way. Maybe a coincidence, maybe not.
Kanye winning the upcoming election might not be realistic, but do not underestimate the impact he would have in the months leading to November 3rd.