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On Aug. 30, 2015, Kanye West received an MTV Video Music Award and added a surprise announcement to his acceptance speech. In 2020, he will be running for president of the United States. It may sound absurd for a man with no political background, a track record of publicity gaffs, and a history as a meme to be considering the role of president, but if Donald Trump can do it, why not Yeezy?

Trump, a billionaire real estate mogul and television host, has been the popular front-runner for the Republican Party’s nomination. His popularity stems from his lack of previous involvement in politics, his forthrightness, and his business success—attributes which can also be attributed to West. He has no political experience to date, and his public candid outbursts are passionate and frank. As for business, if the accumulation of wealth makes for effective leadership—as Trump would have us believe—West has the same advantage.

At the age of 38, Kanye is worth an estimated 130 million, and his wife, Kim Kardashian, an additional 85. At the age of 44, Trump’s ex-wife claimed that he was worth a paltry 400 million, a far cry from the billions he supposedly owned at the time. Additionally, he inherited a portion of it, giving him a sizeable head start. Trump’s inheritance also included all of the benefits of being born to a millionaire, with financial direction from his father and a private school education. Even with these advantages, Trump’s financial history is not spotless: his company required a bailout in 1990, only 10 years after he took charge. West, on the other hand, came from a middle-class family, building his wealth from scratch. His effective personal branding and acclaimed musical career have rapidly developed his personal wealth. Trump is not the only aspiring president in possession of a fortune; however, the difference between the two is that West has actual experience amassing one.

An argument against West might be that he is not formal, refined or “presidential” enough, but let us take a moment to consider what that objection might actually mean. Let’s pretend for a second that expectations of presidential decorum are not inherently tied to white privilege. What exactly about Trump carries more of the essence of the “presidential” than Kanye West? Trump’s hairstyle has been a longstanding joke and his sexism and racism are rampant and ubiquitous. Trump’s behaviour is far from decorous, and leagues from what I would desire in a political leader. Let us instead agree that the quality that defines someone as presidential is the process of being elected in a presidential race.

Another advantage that West has over Trump is that he understands systemic racism. West has made multiple public comments about issues regarding race in America, whether it be about the alarmingly underwhelming government aid for Hurricane Katrina’s largely Black victims, or his comments on the persistence of racism despite some steps forward for people of colour. In the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, with police brutality against Black Americans and people of colour being rife, I care more about a leader’s desire to fight racism than fulfilling Trump’s crackpot plan to build a wall along the Mexican border. Instead of recognizing racism to be a large scale, systematic and nuanced challenge for the next president, Trump has been known to blame immigrants and people of colour for crime rates and sexual assault statistics. Trump announced his candidacy alongside a comment that Mexican immigrants are largely drug dealers, rapists and criminals. This shows a complete lack of comprehension about the state of contemporary America. West understands that racism bars young Black men from positions of leadership or power in America, and we can be certain that as president he would want to change that. Trump may not care about Black people, but West sure does.

So, yes, if I could vote in the 2020 presidential elections, I would choose Kanye West over Donald Trump.

Photo Credit: Michael Tran

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