Ardent Trump supporter and self-professed God, Kanye West, has put himself forward as a 2020 Presidential candidate.
If you’re wondering why a notable Trump acolyte would run against his own preferred candidate in a deeply controversial presidential race, the answer quite simple.
Kanye and Trump have been working cooperatively for the last five years on a plethora of issues including prison reform. During one of those heavily publicized events that saw Kanye and the American President hugging in the Oval Office amidst a cacophony of snapping cameras, Trump told journalists that Kanye, “Could very well be” a future presidential candidate, to which Kanye responded, “Only after, 2024!”
Trump has implemented a number of questionable tactics to ensure his re-election bid cannot fail. He has suppressed voting in minority communities, attempted to invalidate the process of mail-in voting, peddled conspiracy theories about his democratic presidential opponent, ex-Vice President Joe Biden and his family, preemptively accused opposition leaders of cheating, and harping about how his loss would equate a literal doomsday scenario.
Some experts have speculated that, even in the event of a loss, and with the increasingly bizarre loyalty of his followers, he may very well refuse to leave office. He may also use the Coronavirus pandemic and the crippling stronghold it has on the United States, abetted by his inaction and misinformation campaigns, to cancel or postpone the 2020 election.
Another tactic implemented by Trump and his allies in news media has been to mimic the practices of using poll number to mobilize his base. Just as we saw in 2016, pollsters are releasing numbers that predict a grim loss for Trump and a victory for Joe Biden. Even Fox News polls, who have devoted their channel to propping up the president, claim polls they’ve taken demonstrate him losing in November.
In 2016, those same polls showed Donald Trump losing in record numbers to then opposition candidate Hillary Clinton. Newsweek reported that Clinton had a 95% chance of becoming President in 2016 according to reputable pollsters.
These reports did the Trump campaign an enormous favor. It provided an urgent call-to-action from his base while simultaneously lulling Clinton supporters and undecided democrats into a false sense of security. Democrats suffered a blight of overconfidence while Trump Supporters actually rallied in a frenzy at the ballot box. It is reverse psychology at work. The idea of losing is the best way to stir the ire of the Trump body, especially now. Unlike in 2016, they have developed an entirely independent body rife with racism, homophobia, bigotry and violence that they have tethered to Trumpism… a loss in 2020 would be a devastating blow to their movement. Once the mask is off and you’ve shown who you are, you can’t disappear again. They have more to lose this time and are afraid of a reckoning. It’s more personal to the Trump Supporter than it was in 2016. They’ve tied themselves indelibly to Trump and the protections he’s afforded their various acts of public prejudice and discrimination.
The Electoral College will also be Trump’s safeguard. He can lose the popular vote, but still win the presidency, just as he did in the last election. Knowing this, he has spent the majority of his term actually campaigning for the next- he’s never stopped campaigning, says David A. Graham for The Atlantic:
“He can’t turn back to campaigning from governing, because he never really bothered to start governing in the first place. With the exception of cutting taxes and especially building a wall on the Mexican border, he’s never shown much interest in learning how the levers of power work or in using them. Whereas Barack Obama held rallies in early 2009 to support the passage of his health-care bill, Trump held rallies in early 2017 for the purpose of being reelected nearly four years later.”
The President’s allies in state government levels have been pivotal in guaranteeing him a second term by refusing to fix states with gerrymandered districts. On June 25th 2019, after multiple challenges, in a 5 to 4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that “Partisan gerrymandering is beyond the reach of federal courts,” allowing state leaders to divide their maps to favor specific political outcomes during an election.
“Today, the Supreme Court refused to stop politicians rigging our democracy by writing election rules for their own benefit,” said former vice president Joe Biden of the ruling.
With all of these elements in place, it will be extremely difficult for Donald Trump to lose….
But why not add just a little extra insurance?
Enter his friend, Kanye West. Although a polarizing figure, Trump knows that Biden is on very thin ice with the majority of Back voters. In 2016, many complained about having to choose between “The lesser of two evils” when weighing in on their thoughts about Clinton and Trump. Many Democrats were so convinced that Hillary had it in the bag that they voted for a third party candidate or not at all.
Trump and his team have had to twist Joe Biden into an equivalent evil in order to give voters pause when visiting the ballot. He knows that Democratic voters also have a history of making their candidates meet impossible standards and pass purity tests that Donald Trump himself has never been asked to. In fact, the worse Trump behaves, the more aggressive his attacks, the more appealing he is to his base.
With Kanye West in play, Trump can reasonably accept that his participation in a time of tremendous racially charged unrest will promise to siphon votes away from Biden and further divide the democratic voting base who will fight among themselves while Trump’s Make America Great Again crew unifies beneath a sea of red hats, chanting his name.
All of this, despite West having no intentions of actually winning against his ally but possessing a keen understanding that if he can’t garner votes for Trump, he can take them away from Biden.
(Cover image provided by Pieter-Jannick Dijkstra used under Creative Commons 2.0)