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Yes we Kanye! Time for a rapper in the White House

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Unlikely challenger: Former staunch Trump supporter Kanye West, with wife Kim Kardashian. Photo: Reuters

Unlikely challenger: Former staunch Trump supporter Kanye West, with wife Kim Kardashian. Photo: Reuters

REUTERS

The White House

The White House

Unlikely challenger: Former staunch Trump supporter Kanye West, with wife Kim Kardashian. Photo: Reuters

Because 2020 has been far too dull and uneventful, Kanye West has decided to shake things up. The rapper-turned-fashion-guru-turned-Christian-evangelist declared this week that he is running for the White House.

West is doing so under the banner of "the birthday party", because if he wins, "it's everybody's birthday". Somewhere Hillary Clinton is shaking her head wondering why she didn't think of it first.

His candidacy is a shock on several levels. Until this year, West wasn't even registered to vote. Now he is seeking the highest office in the land.

He is doing so on a platform that includes "returning fear and love of God" to the education system, scepticism about a possible Covid-19 vaccine and opposition to abortion. It's unclear whether he will furthermore agree to stop making terrible Christian rap records, though we live in hope.

It is also a surprise because he will be standing against Donald Trump, of whom West has been a vocal supporter. Indeed, he was still singing Trump's praises even as he threw his cap into the presidential ring.

Trump, West said, was "the closest president we've had in years to allowing God to still be part of the conversation".

Kanye has been hard to take seriously for a number of years now. When he started wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat, for instance, the general assumption was that he was trolling fans. And yet he appears perfectly sincere about his desire to be president. He's gone so far as to unveil a running mate in Michelle Tidball, a preacher from Wyoming.

West has been bunkered down with wife Kim Kardashian and their four children at a $14m ranch in the state.

In view of the poor sales of his recent albums, it has even been suggested that his bombshell this week is a cynical grab for free publicity.

However, he has denied that, hinting to Forbes that he will give his next LP away "for free" (some disillusioned Kanye fans will say that it is at the point where West would have to pay them to listen to his new music).

West has never been just another superstar of course. This was already clear back in 2014 when, after marrying Kim Kardashian in Florence, he decided he wanted to spend his honeymoon driving around the midlands, including a stop-off at a cinema in Portlaoise to catch the latest X-Men film.

What's striking about his announcement is the degree to which America has taken it in its stride. The news has been widely reported, yet without much disbelief or amusement. In view of Donald Trump's handling of the Covid-19 crisis, voters may wonder whether West could make any bigger a mess of the pandemic.

It is also the case that bizarre presidential hopefuls are no novelty in America. In 2016, long before his Tiger King fame, wild animal enthusiast Joe Exotic, for instance, was running for the presidency.

And he wasn't even the wackiest candidate that year. One of Joe's rivals was Vermin Love Supreme, who had a penchant for wearing a boot on his head and whose policies including going back in time and killing Adolf Hitler and advocating for "Zombie" awareness.

Homer Aubrey Tomlinson, a pentecostal preacher, ran for five straight elections until his death in 1968.

Tomlinson's platform included the creation of new cabinet posts of "secretary of righteousness" and "secretary of the Holy Bible".

He later declared himself King of the World and "ruled" from a hotel room in Jerusalem, so full marks to him for sticking with it.

A more serious candidacy was that of punk singer Jello Biafra who vied with Ralph Nader to become Green Party nominee in 2000, but never made it on to the ticket. He vowed to abolish the military, legalise drugs and sentence "slum lords" to "live in their own buildings".

Could West give Trump a chance by diverting votes away from the Democrat candidate Joe Biden?

It's hard to imagine many Biden voters opting instead for West. But if 2020 has taught us anything, it is that strange things can and will happen. If President Kanye is the worst the future has in store for us, then we will be doing alright.

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