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Kanye West 2020 presidential campaign

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Kanye West 2020 presidential campaign
Kanye 2020 Logo.png
Campaign2020 United States presidential election
CandidateKanye West
Rapper, musician, and entrepreneur
Michelle Tidball
Christian preacher
AffiliationBirthday Party / Independent
AnnouncedJuly 4, 2020
HeadquartersCody, Wyoming
Key people
  • John Boyd (senior advisor)[1]
  • Andre Bodiford (custodian of records/treasurer)[2]
SloganYES![3]
#2020VISION[4]
Website
kanye2020.country

Kanye West announced his 2020 United States presidential election campaign through Twitter on July 4, 2020, Independence Day. Speculation of West's candidacy began when he first announced his intention to run in August 2015. He entered the election after missing at least four states' deadlines to appear on the ballot as a third-party candidate.[lower-alpha 1] West has selected Michelle Tidball, a Christian preacher from Wyoming, as his running mate. West's rhetoric has been described by Al Jazeera as having "a Republican-leaning, pro-Black religious platform".

On July 16, 2020, the campaign filed a Statement of Candidacy with the Federal Election Commission. West has qualified for ballot access in Oklahoma and held a rally in South Carolina.

Background[edit source | edit]

Donald Trump and Kanye West meeting in October 2018
West, wearing a Make America Great Again hat, meeting with Trump in October 2018.

West stated in July 2020 that his initial idea for his campaign stemmed from when he was being offered the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards (VMA). While showering in his mother-in-law Kris Jenner's home, West was writing a rap song and thought of the lyric "you're going to run for president". He started laughing hysterically at the thought of including a presidential announcement in his acceptance speech, along with disparaging remarks about award shows.[3] On August 30, 2015, West announced at the VMA that he would be running for president in 2020.[6] The following month, on September 24, West reaffirmed to Vanity Fair that he was considering a 2020 presidential run.[7]

In December 2015, he mentioned his presidential run on his song "Facts".[8] In November 2016, West announced that he supported U.S. president Donald Trump.[9] On December 13, 2016, after meeting with Trump, West implied that he would be running in 2024 instead.[10] When Trump was still running for the Republican nomination, he was asked about running against Kanye and responded, "You know what? I will never say bad about him, you know why? Because he loves Trump!" Though he added, "Now, maybe in a few years I will have to run against him, I don’t know. So I’ll take that back".[11]

In April 2018, West became popular with conservatives and the alt-right after he publicly supported American conservative pundit Candace Owens, alienating himself from his usual liberal fanbase.[12][13][14][15] In May 2018, West stated that his presidential run would be a mix between "the Trump campaign and maybe the Bernie Sanders principles".[16] In October 2018, West met with Trump at the Oval Office where he gave praise to the president.[17] That same month, West announced he would be taking a break from politics after a falling out with Owens.[18] The following month, West's wife Kim Kardashian stated that he supported Trump's personality but had no understanding of his policies.[19]

In an October 2019 interview with New Zealand radio host Zane Lowe, West declared that he would one day be the U.S. president.[20] In November 2019, an audience laughed when West stated that he would run for president in 2024. He stated that manufacturing for his Yeezy brand would move to the United States, adding that "we would've created so many jobs that I'm not going to run [for president in 2024], I'm going to walk."[21][22] In January 2020, West told GQ that he would be voting during the election cycle and that "we know who I'm voting on."[23]

Campaign[edit source | edit]

Announcement[edit source | edit]

  Qualified for ballot access (7 EV).
  Ballot access pending verification (44 EV).[24][25]
  Ballot access deadline missed (138 EV).[5]

West announced his campaign on Independence Day via Twitter, writing "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".[26][27] West's campaign announcement went viral, receiving over 100,000 retweets and "Kanye" became the number one trending term in the United States.[28] Various sources questioned whether West was truly running for president or not,[29] as his announcement came after the filing deadlines to run for a major party in all 50 states and most primary elections. He also missed at least four states' deadlines to appear on the ballot as an independent candidate.[30][lower-alpha 1] However, there is no official deadline to have a candidate registered with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).[31][lower-alpha 2] On July 7, West argued that he could gain access to appear on ballots beyond their deadline, using complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as precedent.[3]

On July 5, West tweeted a photograph of dome-like personal shelters with the caption "YZY SHLTRS in process". The structures are similar to the prefabricated subsidized housing prototypes West built in August 2019 (inspired by settlements on Tatooine from Star Wars) in Calabasas, California, which had to be torn down as a result of lacking proper permits with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works.[34] The shelters are designed to be used as housing units for homeless people.[35] On July 7, Entertainment Tonight reported that West was allegedly "telling people close to him that his announcement of running for president is serious".[36] That same day, Trump told RealClearPolitics that he was watching the campaign intently, saying it could serve as a trial run for West if he were to run again in 2024.[37] The FEC began investigating fictitious filings under West's name.[38]

Forbes piece and signature collecting[edit source | edit]

West's candidacy was covered by Forbes on July 8. West stated that he would make the final decision to run within 30 days and denied that his campaign was promotion for his forthcoming tenth studio album. He revealed his two campaign advisors were Kardashian and SpaceX and Tesla, Inc. CEO, Elon Musk. West also stated that he proposed to Musk that he would "be the head of our space program". West registered to vote for the first time within the week prior and selected Michelle Tidball, a relatively unknown Christian preacher from Wyoming, as his running mate.[39] West stated that he would run under the Birthday Party, because "when we win, it's everybody's birthday", and that he was running for president as a service to God.[3][40][41]

Promotional logo shared by West in July 2020 to encourage voter registration.

Musk reacted to the Forbes piece by tweeting, "We may have more differences of opinion than I anticipated". He later deleted his tweet.[42][43] Musk reiterated his support for the presidential campaign on July 13 after having a conversation with West where he further explained his views. However, Musk stated his opinion that West running in 2024 would be more preferable than 2020.[44] On July 9, Trump downplayed West's recent criticism against him, stating that West and Kardashian were "always going to be for us". Trump speculated that West would likely support him because the "radical left" needed to be stopped.[45] The same day, West tweeted a video of himself registering to vote for the first time at the Park County Clerk's Office in Cody, Wyoming. In the video, West discussed with an office employee about changing the difficulties of voter registration in the United States.[46]

On July 14, Ben Jacobs of Intelligencer reported that a source stated on July 8 that they were paid $5,000 to collect signatures on West's behalf in Florida. They needed to collect 132,781 valid signatures before a July 15 deadline for West to qualify on the ballot as a third-party candidate. The following day, voter turnout specialist Steve Kramer told Jacobs that he had been hired to get West on the ballot in South Carolina and Florida. Kramer stated that at the time, West's team was "working over weekend there, formalizing the FEC and other things that they’ve got to do when you have a lot of corporate lawyers involved." Kramer followed-up with Jacobs and stated that he had to fire his 180-person staff, made up of paid personnel and volunteers, because West was "out".[47]

FEC paperwork and South Carolina rally[edit source | edit]

West at his first campaign rally in North Charleston, South Carolina on July 19, 2020.

On July 15, a Statement of Organization (Form 1) was filed with the FEC. The filing declared a "Kanye 2020" campaign committee with West running as a presidential candidate under the Birthday Party.[48][49] The filing listed a property bought by West in October 2019 as its address, along with an inactive website and phone number.[49] West notarized an Oklahoma statement of candidacy while in Miami and had a representative pay a $35,000 filing fee on the day of the state's deadline.[50] The Oklahoma State Election Board later announced that West qualified to appear on the general election ballot as an independent candidate.[51] The following day, West filed a Statement of Candidacy (Form 2) with the FEC, indicating that $5,000 has been raised or spent in campaign-related expenses. Form 2 grants West candidacy status under federal campaign laws.[52]

On July 17, West tweeted out a form for collecting digital signatures from South Carolinians so that he could qualify as an independent candidate in the state; the deadline to collect 10,000 signatures was July 20. The campaign set up nine locations near Charleston, South Carolina, to collect signatures in-person, with West sharing the list of locations through Twitter. The petition locations ran from July 18 to 19.[53] West held his first campaign event in North Charleston, South Carolina, on July 19.[54] West wore a bulletproof vest, spoke without a microphone, and called on audience members to speak. West criticized American abolitionist Harriet Tubman and cried during a conversation about abortion.[55] He also discussed his opposition to gun control, his support for the LGBT community, and finding a way to fix drug addiction caused by health care.[56]

In an interview with Kris Kaylin of Charleston radio station WWWZ, West outlined the ten principles of his campaign and stated that he asked fellow rapper Jay-Z if he wanted to replace Tidball as his running mate.[57] The South Carolina Election Commission confirmed on July 20 that West failed to submit his petition on time.[58] The campaign submitted its signatures in Illinois, where West's home city of Chicago is located, on that same day, four minutes before the submission deadline. Election officials have until August 21 to verify if the campaign has submitted the minimum 2,500 valid signatures that are required for ballot access.[24] On July 22, West tweeted that he may postpone his presidential run to 2024, though he subsequently deleted it.[59]

Petition submissions[edit source | edit]

On July 27, the campaign submitted its signatures collected in Missouri on the day of its deadline.[25] West also filed as a candidate in New Jersey.[60] On July 29, TMZ reported that the campaign was canvassing in New York and West Virginia.[61]

Former Democratic congressional candidate in 2018 and attorney, Scott Salmon, challenged West's signature submissions in New Jersey on July 29. Salmon alleged several signatures were written by the same person, stating, "[t]he odds that 30 people in a row from all over the state would have a little circle about the Is is a little hard to believe".[62]

Analysis[edit source | edit]

On July 4, Jack Dolan of the Los Angeles Times speculated that West's presidential campaign "might be part of an effort to draw Black supporters away from [Joe Biden] to help Trump."[63] Andrew Solender of Forbes wrote that available polling data suggests that West's run would likely hurt Trump rather than Biden.[64] On July 7, West stated that he was okay with splitting off Black voters from the Democratic Party.[3] Trump stated on July 11 that it "shouldn't be hard" for West to siphon Black voters from Biden.[65] In his South Carolina rally, West stated that "the most racist thing that's ever been said out loud" was the idea that he would split Black voters.[66]

Several publications, including Politico, The Guardian, and Forbes, have questioned whether West's campaign is a legitimate effort or a publicity stunt.[67][68][69] West disputed allegations that his campaign was promotion for his music in July 2020.[3]

Endorsements[edit source | edit]

Elon Musk (left) and Kim Kardashian (right) endorsed West on the day of his campaign announcement.

The following individuals have endorsed West:

Political positions[edit source | edit]

Al Jazeera described West as having "a Republican-leaning, pro-Black religious platform".[79] West stated in July 2020 that he would run for president under the banner of the newly formed Birthday Party, but that if Trump were not running, he would have affiliated with the Republican Party.[3] The following is a list of political positions adopted by West since he initially announced his intentions to run in August 2015.

Abortion and birth control[edit source | edit]

In October 2019, West spoke out against abortion, stating "thou shalt not kill". He also alleged that the Democratic Party was pushing black people to use levonorgestrel, commonly known as Plan B, as a form of voter suppression. West's comments were praised by anti-abortion organizations Live Action and Students for Life, and the conservative news website The Daily Wire.[80] In July 2020, West stated "I am pro-life because I'm following the word of the Bible" and expressed his belief that "Planned Parenthoods have been placed inside cities by white supremacists to do the Devil's work."[3] Nia Martin-Robinson of Planned Parenthood criticized West's statements, asserting that "[a]ny insinuation that abortion is Black genocide is offensive and infantilizing".[81]

At a July rally in South Carolina, West stated abortion should be legal because "the law is not by God anyway". However, he proposed giving every mother that does not abort their child a financial incentive, using "$1 million or something in that range" as an example. He did not disclose how he would pay for such incentives.[55]

Black Lives Matter and police brutality[edit source | edit]

In November 2016, West told black people to "stop focusing on racism", but clarified that his support for Trump did not mean he did not "believe in Black Lives Matter."[82] In June 2020, West participated in the George Floyd protests and donated $2 million to help victims of the rioting that took place during demonstrations. He also paid off Floyd's daughter's college tuition.[83][84] The following month, West stated that one of his priorities would be to end police brutality, adding that "[the] police are people too".[3]

Cannabis legalization[edit source | edit]

In July 2020, West voiced his support for the legalization of marijuana.[85]

Capital punishment[edit source | edit]

In July 2020, West announced his opposition to capital punishment, citing the biblical phrase "thou shalt not kill."[3]

COVID-19 and vaccines[edit source | edit]

West has stated that he contracted COVID-19 in February 2020.[3] In July 2020, West raised his concerns about a hypothetical COVID-19 vaccine, calling vaccines the "mark of the beast". West expressed hesitancy with vaccines, alleging that vaccinated children become paralyzed and that "the humans that have the Devil inside them" want to implement microchips into people, therefore preventing them from entering Heaven.[3] West provided no evidence for his claims.[86] When asked about how to address the disease, West suggested prayer and that people "stop doing things that make God mad".[86]

Economy[edit source | edit]

In November 2019, West called for a more sustainable economy, which would include plans to commence hydroponic cotton, wheat and hemp farming in Cody, Wyoming. West envisioned that manufacturing for his Yeezy brand would be entirely moved to the Americas, including his ranch in Cody.[21] In July 2020, West called for the return of a pre-industrial agrarian society.[87] That same month, West stated that he wanted to revitalize the economy by reducing household debt, national debt, and student debt. He stated that the U.S. should remain as a net exporter of gas, oil, and coal.[57]

Education[edit source | edit]

In November 2016, West stated he wanted to create "new schools that approach the way we should receive our education post-the internet" instead of a "1930s idea of how to put everyone in the same factory."[82] In October 2019, West condemned "woke" culture, saying it would soon "take Jesus out of school."[88] In July 2020, West stated that schools were "made for us to not truly be all we can be but to be just good enough to work for the corporations that designed the school systems". West expressed his belief that removing prayer in school was a plot by the Devil that increased the suicide rate among children and murder rate in Chicago.[3]

That same month, West stated he wanted to restructure the education system by providing multiple vocational options, with a focus on aiding the most at-risk students.[57]

Environment[edit source | edit]

In November 2019, West called for research on making the process of dyeing more eco-friendly, stating that "dyeing is one of the main things that's impacting the planet and the fashion industry".[21] In July 2020, he stated that he wanted "environmentally-friendly solutions in every area".[57]

Foreign policy[edit source | edit]

In July 2020, West stated that he would adopt an America First stance; however, he also stated that he needed to further develop his foreign policy. West expressed his admiration for China, stating: "The money is gonna come back. I love China. I love China. It's not China's fault that [COVID-19] disease. It's not the Chinese people's fault. They're God's people also."[3] West lived in Nanjing, China, during his childhood.[89] That same month, West stated he wanted to build strong relations with nations committed to fair trade.[57]

Gun control[edit source | edit]

In an Oval Office visit in October 2018, West voiced his support for the Second Amendment, stating: "The problem is illegal guns. Illegal guns is the problem, not legal guns". His statement drew support from the National Rifle Association (NRA).[90] In July 2020, West stated that foreign countries would enslave Americans if guns were taken away, adding that "Guns don't kill people. People kill people."[56]

Immigration[edit source | edit]

In July 2020, West expressed his support for illegal immigrants.[91]

Legal system[edit source | edit]

In July 2020, West stated that he wanted to reform the legal system. He claimed that the Department of Justice has unfairly treated its citizens, especially African-Americans.[57]

West has advocated for the release of Chicagoan gang leader Larry Hoover, who is serving six consecutive life sentences. In October 2018, West elaborated that "in an alternate universe, I am [Hoover] and I have to go and get him free."[92]

Military[edit source | edit]

In July 2020, Kanye stated that he wanted to cut the military budget while maintaining "commitment to rule of law and strong national defense".[57]

Prison reform[edit source | edit]

In September 2018, West called for the alteration of the Thirteenth Amendment because of a loophole that suggests it is legal to enslave convicts.[93] During a meeting with Trump the following month, West called the Thirteenth Amendment a "trap door".[94] In October 2019, West stated during a performance with the Sunday Service Choir that people were too busy discussing music and sports instead of focusing on a broken system that allows "one in three African-Americans [to be] in jail in this country."[95] The following month, West alleged that the media calls him "crazy" to silence his opinion, connecting this to the incarceration of African-Americans and celebrities.[32] On his album Jesus Is King (2019), West discussed the Thirteenth Amendment, mass incarceration, criticized the prison–industrial complex, and connected three-strikes laws to slavery.[96][97][98]

Welfare[edit source | edit]

In May 2018, West espoused the "Democratic plantation" theory that welfare is a tool used by the Democratic Party to keep black Americans as an underclass that remains reliant on the party.[99] During a September 2018 special guest appearance on Saturday Night Live, after the show had already gone off the air, West alleged to the crowd that it was a Democratic Party plan "to take the fathers out [of] the home and promote welfare."[100][101]

The following month, West alleged that homicide was a byproduct of a "welfare state" that destroyed black families. While there is evidence supporting the assertion that the American welfare system or aspects of it increase crime,[102] Jelani Cobb challenged West's claim in The New Yorker (at least as much as it applied to Chicago), arguing that "the catalysts for violence in that city predate the 'welfare state' and the rise of single-parent black households, in the nineteen-seventies." He pointed to findings from Chicago Commission on Race Relations regarding the violence of the Chicago race riots of 1919 and a 1945 study entitled Black Metropolis, published by sociologists St. Clair Drake and Horace Cayton, which Cobb wrote, "detailed the ways in which discrimination in housing and employment were negatively affecting black migrants." He also noted similar observations made by W. E. B. Du Bois in Philadelphia, in 1903.[103]

Polling[edit source | edit]

National polls[edit source | edit]

Poll source Date(s)
administered
Sample
size[lower-alpha 3]
Margin
of error
Kanye
West (B)
Donald
Trump (R)
Joe
Biden (D)
Other Undecided
Retfield & Wilton Strategies July 9, 2020 1,853 (RV) ± 2.9% 2% 39% 48% 4%[lower-alpha 4] 6%
Study Finds/SurveyMonkey[lower-alpha 5] July 8, 2020 469 (A) 8% 37% 55%

Kanye West vs. Donald Trump[edit source | edit]

Poll source Date(s)
administered
Sample
size[lower-alpha 3]
Margin
of error
Kanye
West (B)
Donald
Trump (R)
Other Undecided
July 4, 2020 West announces his candidacy
November 8, 2016 Trump wins the 2016 presidential election
YouGov/Huffington Post September 1–2, 2015 1,000 (A) 8% 41% 48% 3%

Favorability[edit source | edit]

Poll source Date(s)
administered
Sample
size[lower-alpha 3]
Margin
of error
Favorable Unfavorable Unsure
July 4, 2020 West announces his candidacy
SSRS/CNN May 2–5, 2018 1,015 (A) ± 3.6% 23% 53% 24%[lower-alpha 6]
YouGov/Huffington Post April 27–29, 2018 1,000 (A) ± 3.9% 18% 56% 26%
November 8, 2016 Trump wins the 2016 presidential election
YouGov/Huffington Post September 1–2, 2015 1,000 (A) 13% 69% 18%

Notes[edit source | edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 According to Ballotpedia, the deadline for independent candidates to register passed in Indiana, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Texas by July 4, 2020.[5]
  2. At the time of his announcement, the only presidential candidate in the FEC database named Kanye West was a parody Green Party candidate named "Kanye Deez Nutz West", who filed in 2015.[32][33]
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Key:
    A – all adults
    RV – registered voters
    LV – likely voters
    V – unclear
  4. 2% for Jo Jorgensen; 1% for Howie Hawkins; 1% for other.
  5. Poll aggregator FiveThirtyEight ranks SurveyMonkey as, despite being in the top 10 most-analyzed, having the lowest accuracy grade of any pollster other than those banned outright for suspected falsification.[104]
  6. 9% for "Never heard of"; 15% for "No opinion".

References[edit source | edit]

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  2. "Form 1 for Kanye 2020". Federal Election Commission. July 15, 2020. Retrieved July 15, 2020.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 Randall Lane (July 8, 2020). "Kanye West Says He's Done With Trump—Opens Up About White House Bid, Damaging Biden And Everything In Between". Forbes. Archived from the original on July 8, 2020. Retrieved July 8, 2020.
  4. Heran Mamo (July 19, 2020). "A Timeline of Kanye West's 2020 Presidential Run". Billboard. Archived from the original on July 18, 2020. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
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  12. Lua error: bad argument #1 to 'fetchLanguageName' (string expected, got nil).
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  30. Lua error: bad argument #1 to 'fetchLanguageName' (string expected, got nil).
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  39. Lua error: bad argument #1 to 'fetchLanguageName' (string expected, got nil).
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