Kanye West’s 2020 presidential “campaign” has so far been a great contribution to the ongoing comedy that is American politics. It can hardly be taken seriously. Kanye himself has no governing experience, having spent his career thus far as only a rapper. His mental health is also an obvious problem; being bipolar is bad enough if he didn’t also have the help of the spotlight and the Kardashians to drive him bonkers. (In all seriousness, those latter two factors are probably far worse than the actual mental disorder.) That Kanye West as we know him now is fit for any public office, particularly the highest in the land, is not a serious proposition.
But if he’s on my ballot in November, I’ll probably still vote for him.
Why? It’s worth stepping back for a moment to consider that our whole political order is deeply broken. It has descended almost entirely into self-parody at this point. Just a few years ago Donald Trump ran for President, broke the GOP by conquering all of its other, mostly better, candidates, and then actually won the whole election. The Democrats, meanwhile, have intensified their most liberal and radical rhetoric in both traditional and social media while selecting for their presidential campaign another old, white, relatively moderate
creeper man. Both sides stick to increasingly polarized party lines on controversial issues and bundle often unrelated issues for no reason except inertia.
The Democrats are gradually becoming more publicly and outspokenly opposed to anything resembling orthodox Christianity or any kind of moral worldview older than the 60s. A handful of preachers, pundits, and other sillykins continue to try to persuade people that Christianity and “conservatism” have a home in the GOP, usually using abortion as leverage, but in fact the party will pretty much sell out anything—in religion, ethics, culture, or policy—for corporate interests. And the growing minority of Republicans who reject the Mammon-centric approach often end up either flirting with white nationalism or, perhaps more often, a replacement of all principles with raw anti-liberal reaction.
To vote for Biden or for Trump gives, in my opinion, a little too much consent to the worst evils and corruptions of this farce. Both, I think, are best resisted. So enters Kanye West. Kanye has a mix of views and instincts that don’t line up with either party or their worst shenanigans too closely. Where he disagrees from either party, his principle are usually better than what he rejects.
We have come to a point where traditional political merits like experience, maturity, credentials, sanity, and competence no longer really matter, at least for the office of President. Trump’s election marks the turning point here. The President is rarely doing real work on his own; most of it is signing off on the labors of his administration and staff. Those who surround him are the real engine of the White House; the President’s function is more symbolic than anything. He doesn’t need to do a job; he needs to represent a prescription and a vision.
This is where Kanye becomes a proper candidate. In no sensible world is he a fit or competent Chief Executive for the United States of America. But it would be a very sensible world where his vision reigned as king. For Kanye stands largely for the forgotten virtues. He pledges, and seems to practice or attempt to practice, support for a pro-life ethic, family, subsidiarity, economic independence, criminal justice reform, localism, and the like. Neither the gods of unrestrained corporate indulgence nor the LGBTQ+ and radical social justice movements capture his allegiance. Instead, he rather explicitly and unabashedly proclaims his sole allegiance to Jesus Christ, and he seems to genuinely wish to honor God and obey the Scriptures in the whole prokect.
Of course, this isn’t to say all of his policy proposals are good. Some of them are downright idiotic, or even a little unjust. But the policy details are exactly what no longer matter in the Presidency. What he represents, the vision he has for what is right for the world, this is what counts. And Kanye’s vision is the only one, at least between his, Trump’s, and Biden’s, that I recognize at all as a Christian.
Moreover, though I would still argue for the priority of this symbolic function over the traits of the person himself, it is worth noting that I actually do have, in one respect, more faith in Kanye as a person than in Trump or Biden. Those two are, quite simply, wicked, and at best their characters are on the wrong road. Kanye, for all of his faults, seems sincere in his faith and repentance since his public Christian conversion last year. He still has many vices, pride not least among them, but he strikes me (and many others) as genuine, honest, and devoted to his new Lord, and this bring with it the guarantee by God’s Word and Spirit that he is moving on what is fundamentally the right path. So even if he is quite bonkers and not a shining emblem of Christian virtue now, I have hope in where his character is going. And, given the choice between insanity on the side of the angels or sanity on the side of the devils, I can only happily throw in my lot with the nutters.
None of this, I should stress, means I think Kanye is a plausible, sane, or even good Presidential candidate by any proper standards. In anything resembling normal circumstances, nothing could persuade me to vote for him. But we are long past normal circumstances, and the whole system is breaking down into a parody of a farce of a circus. The whole thing is going to burn down, maybe even before my kids are old enough to vote. So in this sinking ship full of clowns, I have no real qualms hopping into the boat with the clown who’s at least trying to steer toward dry land. If by chance he were to win, it would hardly be interesting as a victory for a mentally unstable rapper, but it would mean everything as a victory for his vision, a vision which ultimately, more than any of the others, has at its center a greater kingdom.