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Why I voted for Kanye West at the 2020 US election

The rapper received 57,000 votes across the 12 states he ran in – here, three people explain why they opted for Kanye at the ballot box

Although it’s likely Joe Biden will become the 46th president of the United States of America, there’s also the possibility that Donald Trump will delay the process through the courts and prolong our collective agony. At the time of writing, the incumbent president is continuing to spread misinformation about the voting process, raising the chance of mass civil unrest.

One thing’s for certain: Kanye West will have to wait another four years to try and become the US president. The rap legend, who launched his 2020 independent presidential campaign back in July, received only 57,000 votes across the 12 states in which he was running. He voted for himself in Wyoming, saying: “Today I am voting for the first time in my life for the President of the United States, and it’s for someone I truly trust… me.”

He has now conceded, pledging to run once again in 2024.

In truth, it’s been hard to know what to make of Kanye’s failed campaign and its pledge to bring Americans closer to God. Although the campaign won high-profile support from celebrities such as Chance the Rapper, Elon Musk, and Rose McGowan, Kanye’s first political rally ended in disaster and an angry tirade against wife Kim Kardashian West for considering aborting their first child, North West. After Kim put out a statement blaming the episode on Kanye’s bipolar disorder, it was fair to assume this was yet another example of a mentally unwell Kanye chaotically pushing himself into the limelight for an album publicity stunt, with no one in his inner circle offering any resistance.

Given his vocal support of Trump, other critics argued Kanye was simply trying to split the Black vote for the Democratic Party, being used as a puppet by the Republicans. Yet perhaps we shouldn’t look at Kanye’s presidential campaign as something that’s out of character. On “New Slaves”, Kanye famously remarked, “There’s leaders and there’s followers / I’d rather be a dick than a swallower”, and the White House is likely seen by the supremely confident musician and designer as the only thing left to conquer.

The reaction to those 57,000 Kanye West votes has been met with widespread anger on social media, with political pundits mocking these voters and accusing them of wasting their opportunity amid one of the most important elections of the last 100 years. So, what would motivate an American citizen to vote for Kanye West?

“I felt better about Kanye than I did about Biden or Trump, in terms of being a free thinker and not using hateful tactics to divide our country” – K3dar

“Voting for Kanye was somewhat of a protest vote to show the Democrats that many of us Black Americans are no longer going to just blindly vote for them without their party providing specific tangibles and policies for us in the same way they do for immigrants, Latinos, women, and the LGBTQ+ community,” explains K3dar, an aspiring rapper from Michigan who voted for Kanye. “I felt better about Kanye than I did about Biden or Trump, in terms of being a free thinker and not using hateful tactics to divide our country.”

Biden won in the state of Michigan, taking 50.6 per cent of the vote and winning it back from the Republicans after Trump defeated Hilary Clinton there back in 2016. When I ask K3dar if he feels like voting for Kanye might have been a waste of a vote, he replies: “As Black Americans, we’re expected to only vote one way, but other so-called minorities are not held to that same standard. At the end of the day, I’m very upset with the actions of the DNC because they practice benign neglect when it comes to providing policies to address issues specific to Black American descendants of slavery, yet they still use POC and minority language in their policies. Their policies seem to benefit white women and practically everyone else (except Black people).”

Gourgen Sargsyan, a 30-year-old based in California – a state which hasn’t been won by a Republican presidential nominee since George Bush Sr. back in 1988 – also voted for Kanye. He was born in Armenia, emigrating to the US as an infant, and says his vote was driven by Trump and Biden’s lack of any real policy around the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, through which he has lost family members.

“I felt like I wasn’t voting for Kanye, but I was voting for God” – Marquis Woods

“I know people look down at me for voting for Kanye instead of Biden, but I see it as exercising my right to vote,” he tells me. Much like Kedar, I sense Gourgen voted for Kanye West as a form of protest. “I would tell the critics that a vote is a vote,” he responds. “If they don’t appreciate my choice for Kanye, then that means they think it’s better I didn’t vote at all. Look, the president is just one of the many props we vote on.”

African-American Marquis Woods is proof Kanye’s persistent religious rhetoric has filtered down to some voters. “Kanye West is a prophet and was smart enough to know that Jesus is King,” proclaims the 32-year-old proud Christian, who’s from Texas, where Trump won 38 electoral votes with 52.2 per cent of the vote. “As a nation, we’re in a time of great tribulation so I felt like I wasn’t voting for Kanye, but I was voting for God. The only wasted vote is one that is not used, and Kanye West was the closest candidate to God on my ballot paper.”

These three voters are disenchanted millennials, who each genuinely feel like their vote was the best possible decision. Kedar, Gourgen, and Marquis voting for Kanye West represents a much wider problem with America’s minorities feeling like the people in power don’t care about them or the issues they hold close to their hearts  – perhaps that isn’t something we should mock, but listen to.