Kanye West announced in a tweet made on the Fourth of July that he was entering the race for President of the United States.
It should come as no surprise that not everyone is taking the announcement seriously. Alex Howard, director of the Digital Democracy Project, noted that as of Sunday, July 5th, West hasn’t even filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Still, his wording suggested he was in earnest. “We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God,” the rapper and entertainment mogul wrote, “unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States! #2020VISION.”
West’s wife Kim Kardashian West seemed to chime in with her support, quote-tweeting him and adding an American flag emoji.
Billionaire Tesla founder Elon Musk appeared to take West seriously.
But given that West hasn’t filed any papers and he has an album to promote, it seems like taking his claim seriously is more of a matter of wanting to be in on the joke.
Democratic strategist Max Burns made a few solid points supporting the “he’s not running, he’s promoting his upcoming thing” argument.
As the Guardian noted, West has a habit of grabbing attention with similar claims.
Indeed, the rapper has floated the idea of running for president before. In January last year, a tweet that said simply “2024” was interpreted as a sign that he would run for the White House that year.
West was criticized last week after declaring: “I am so proud of my beautiful wife Kim Kardashian West for officially becoming a billionaire.” She had sold a stake in her beauty brand for $200m. But he also earned praise for releasing a single about racism and religion.
He also shocked the crowd at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2015 by saying he might run in 2020.
If West is serious, he’d be following a long tradition of third-party surprise candidates–which may not be what he wants.
Both Ralph Nader, who ran in 2000 on the Green Party ticket, and Jill Stein, who ran in 2016 under the same banner, have been severely criticized as spoilers who threw the race in favor of candidates who did not end up acquiring the majority popular vote but won in the electoral college. It might end up being the opposite of a good PR move.
At this point, it’s easier to believe that Kanye West is leveraging his already huge platform as a performing artist to grab extra media attention and ensure big sales when he drops God’s Country, which he’ll likely do soon.
If he’s really running, however, 2020 continues its run as the least boring year of the century—so far.