Kanye West dropped a doozy Sunday night when he declared his 2020 candidacy for president during a bizarre speech at MTV’s Video Music Awards. But as crazy as president Kanye sounds, it’s not impossible.
“As you probably could have guessed by this moment, in 2020 I have decided to run for president,” West told the stunned audience as he accepted the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. While most political pundits believe West would have better luck getting hit by lightning on a sunny Los Angeles day, they also acknowledge that the rules of the game have changed.
“Bill Clinton really lowered the bar when it comes to acceptable behavior in the Oval Office,” professor of government at California’s Claremont McKenna College, John Pitney, told TheWrap Monday.
Celebrities vying for the highest office in the land are not unheard of — Ronald Reagan did it. But West, experts say, is not a person who people associate with politics. At least not yet.
“He needs to show that he’s serious,” Pitney said. “Arnold Schwarzenegger was a big star but he’d been involved in Republican politics since the 1980s… Same goes for Ronald Reagan. Unless there’s something I’m not aware of, Kanye West has done none of those things.”
It’s unclear how serious West is about his presidential aspirations, especially considering he admitted to rolling “up a little something” to knock “the edge off” right before taking the stage Sunday. But that hasn’t stopped reputable news sites like MarketWatch from asking, “If Donald Trump can do it, why not Kanye West?”
Before you laugh the whole idea off, consider this: Candidate West would have more than a few things going for him. He’s got millions of fans. He’s also amassed a huge following on social media with more than 14 million followers on Twitter and another 366,000 on Instagram, more than any candidate in the 2016 race by far, so name recognition won’t be an issue. Not to mention, he already knows all the big Hollywood donors.
The Democratic party seems to be OK with the idea, unless it’s in on the joke. On Monday the party tweeted: “Last Night @kanyewest declared his candidacy for president in 2020. Welcome to the race, Mr. West. Glad to have you.”
Even the White House had something to say about it. Press Secretary Josh Earnest told the Associated Press on Monday that he looks “forward to seeing what slogan West chooses to embroider on his campaign hat.” And West’s sister-in-law Khloe Kardashian has already thrown her support behind him.
Speaking of the Kardashians… If West wins, his wife Kim would the only First Lady in history with her own sex tape for sale, not to mention she has two ex-husbands.
The very idea of a First Lady with Kardashian’s track record has horrified many pundits and commentators who were quick to dismiss the possibility of West going anywhere near the West Wing.
“Would I rule out a ‘President Kanye?’ Yeah I would rule it out,” conservative political commentator S.E. Cupp said on CNN’s “The Situation Room” Monday. “The news is Kanye West seems to think that either a Republican is winning this season or Hillary is going to be a one-termer.”
Either way, experts say, you can thank Donald Trump for this latest political craziness. “In Kanye’s case, he’s looking at this thinking, ‘I have a lot things to say, I can draw big crowds too,’” Democratic strategist Bill Carrick told TheWrap. “This trend is not going away anytime soon.”
West’s announcement has already set the Internet on fire, providing social media with some pretty hilarious memes.
— NF (@nathanillerhaus) August 31, 2015
T-shirts are already available online proclaiming, “Yeezus for President 2020 Bruh!” and “Kanye for President,” complete with presidential campaign buttons in both Hebrew and Yiddish. Last month, West and his wife attended a fundraiser for Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Kardashian even tweeted a selfie that she and West took with Clinton, along with an endorsement: “I got my selfie!!! I really loved hearing her speak & hearing her goals for our country! #HillaryForPresident.”
Whether or not candidate Kanye would get Clinton’s support is another story.