West began his meandering speech with an anecdote about visiting the grocery store with his daughter and receiving backhanded compliments from store clerks, as well as the more pronounced experience of being booed by 60,000 people at a baseball game. (This was, of course, an oblique reference to West’s fall from public grace after his 2009 decision to storm the stage at that year’s VMAs as Taylor Swift accepted an award. West felt the award had been bestowed in utter error and should have gone to his friend, Beyonce.)
On Sunday, West’s speech transitioned into a public apology of sorts for past bad behavior, public drunkenness and displays of anger directed at what he seemed to imply was the wrong individual. Yes, he implied it, but never quite said it. West then spoke of a kind of -- we will assume -- metaphorical death for the right of successful artists to voice their real opinions publicly. He lamented the way that corporate giants like MTV, a division of Viacom, exploit the weaknesses, emotions and ideas of artists for publicity and profit.
Amid all this, there are a few ideas that were particularly rich in their Kanye West-ness. He compared a nomination for a VMA award and subsequent loss to time on the auction block. West has long toyed with some ludicrous equations between the historical and current conditions of black America and the fully optional chains of stardom.
But this extended series of non-sequiturs reached its peak when West made the announcement that adds his name to a story that everyone seems to be talking about.
“I don’t know what I stand to lose after this. It don't matter though, because it ain't about me; it’s about new ideas, bro, new ideas. People with ideas, people who believe in truth,” West said. “And yes, as you probably could have guessed by this moment, I have decided in 2020 to run for president."
Yes, that happened. And no, most of us couldn't have guessed that.
By Monday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that he looks, "forward to seeing what slogan he [West] chooses to embroider on his campaign hat," The Associated Press reported.
West's discernible platform: Repealing the artists' enslavement codes and installing “people with ideas.” You might call that the politics of entertainment. Given all that is happening right now in the 2016 race, you might also call this the nadir of politics as entertainment.
And we're not even just talking about Donald Trump. For what it's worth, West isn't even the first rapper to announce a run for the White House this year. Waka Flocka Flame, an artist whose work merited a sort-of-profile in the New York Times this year, did the same. And in a possible homage to the 1992 Dr. Dre Hit, "The Chronic," a 15-year-old Iowa teenager has also announced plans to seek the presidency under the name, Deez Nuts.
Of course, the key difference here -- and the one that Americans who take their politics seriously must note -- is that Waka Flocka and Deez Nuts are constitutionally ineligible for the office due to their respective ages. Therefore neither can mount a more than a jokey bid for the White House. Donald Trump is, right now, the leading GOP contender in the 2016 race, and West has already reached the constitutionally-mandated age to mount a bid.
You might marinate on that until 2019. Enjoy. Weep for the state of American democracy.
You the viewer/voter might decide.