Kanye For President
When Kanye announced that he was running for the Oval Office he literally dropped the mic. Kanye is no stranger to shifting culture and cultivating it -having already likened himself to Jesus, Pablo Picasso, Steve Jobs and even Walt Disney (all influential cultural figures) it was difficult not to wonder where he would take it next and what reaction he would inspire. Being a master of manipulating controversy he had Taylor Swift who he famously parred on stage, present him with a lifetime achievement award, strategically placing her as a running mate of sorts before dropping the news he would be running for President.
In the 6 years since his altercation with Swift he has managed to change public opinion on himself (more or less). He is very polarising figure, you either love him or hate him and this is reflected in the response to the news he was running for president. Immediately social media went crazy (something him and his family are very good at orchestrating) there were the (new) Conservatives who quickly ridiculed the thought of Kanye West being President of the Free World and the (new) Liberals who instantly embraced the idea and started a weeklong hype cycle. Businesses were made, memes were generated, and publishers had something to talk about, a micro-economy just burst into life from Mr West letting the world know he felt like running for the White House.
The thing is Kanye has a lot of fans in high places. People who love Kanye, and are of age, work in various different fields, from the creative to the financial fields that he can (or has) readily activate their advocacy. Graphic designers and artists have taken to Instagram to show their support creating art, merchandise, and campaign themed work in support which landed in this amazing ass picture of Obama showing his support for Yeezy in 2020 (sources indicate it’s a Photoshop job but it might as well be real). Obama welcomed Mr West ‘s bid for the presidency and offered some comical advice saying Kanye Running for President “ That’s Cray” (referencing the mega Hit with Jay Z — N*** in Paris). Kanye returned the salute with a couple pairs of Yeezy Boosts for Mr & Mr’s Obama.
It could actually work out for Mr West in 2020: no one really trusts politicians at the moment and Kanye has been known to be politically active in his music and on screen (George Bush incident). He has political issues he would like to address from a creative angle, which is an interesting thought within itself, given how ‘design thinking’ is a new force changing the world today. The stigma of a celebrity running for office has already been dispelled by Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. Is this what the future looks like? Where celebrities with money and influence can actually run the country. A clue was in the speech Kanye delivered before his announcement, “ Listen to the kids bro!”
Looking at age demographics we can see that the majority of US citizens (over 300m) are aged between 15–64 with an extra 19% aged 14 and under.
Come 2020 there will be a shift from that youth demographic with those aged 14 and above reaching voting age and if we look at the Obama Election which was fuelled by a lot of first time youth voters gives us a rough picture of the 2020 electoral landscape. If you are under the age of at least 40 you cannot deny the influence Kanye has had on youth culture from music to fashion to nebulous influence on creativity and breaking boundaries and the kids do listen to Kanye bro, so maybe its not too farfetched to think he would be a serious candidate.
Kanye as president
What would an electoral campaign look like in 2020 with Kanye west running? I reckon it would be decided by social media influence and network effects. A bevy of celebrity friends with collective followers over 100 million supporting the campaign; legions of fans on different platforms advocating with their creativity on terms that are true to them, to some of these social professionals being recruited on the official campaign trail. TeamKanyeDaily would be the campaign party communications lead providing daily updates on the campaign
Ian Connor and Virgil Abloh would be on wardrobe and creative direction respectively, effectively communicating his message and philosophy through the clothing and stage designs. Vanessa Beecroft & DONDA would be on the campaign visuals and the campaign tour set design. A presidential concert tour anyone? In 2008 the question was: is America ready for a black president, for 2020 the question is: will America be ready for a creative one?