In what has become a near-weekly occurrence, Kanye West is in the news for a reason other than his music. This past week Kanye West doubled down on his controversial embrace of President Donald Trump and his ideas.
Kanye West is far from the only celebrity to come out as a Trump supporter, but there are three aspects of Kanye West’s Trump fandom that make his case unique:
The juxtaposition of early Kanye West to today
10 years ago, if you had taken a poll and asked which celebrity would become the de-facto spokesperson for a far-right populist president, Kanye West would have likely not even been mentioned. After all his major political contribution to that point had been telling the world “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”
Trump’s embrace of Kanye West
Trump has never been one to shy away from rubbing shoulders with other famous people. However, it would have been hard to picture the President who won’t even attend the Whitehouse correspondent’s dinner holding a summit with a rapper/producer… though some have argued Trump would meet with anyone who speaks highly of him. But for whatever reason, the feelings between Kanye West and Donald Trump appear to be mutual.
How far Kanye West is willing to take it
It is hard to understate just how much Kanye West has leaned into this. It’s one thing to make a passing remark here and there or keep your praise issue based like some other celebrities. It’s another thing to wear a MAGA hat and deliver Trump an inspired monologue on Saturday Night Live to boos and jeers from the media. Given the fact that some of Kanye West’s peers have even stated that they wouldn’t work with him again, it’s not a stretch to say that Ye’s Trump support has hurt his career.
Most self-respecting liberals are going to find fault with what Kanye West is doing and that is understandable. We’ve have written about his asinine remarks on this very blog. But he hasn’t done anything objectively wrong yet. He is using his fame and talent to support the politician of his choice. The issue is less him, and more the response.
It’s easy to sit back and hurl stones at celebrities for speaking on issues and subjects they know nothing about… and please believe I fully intend to. But are the people making fun of Kanye West in the privacy of their friend groups willing to publicly cape for their pet cause or a candidate like he is? Because if they are not, then they may find themselves on the losing side of the election… again.
Too often people who have the agency to make change or influence minds do the mental math of endorsing causes and candidates in their head:
“Do I want to risk alienating my friends or co-workers?”
“Is this the right time or place to talk about this?”
Those are the appropriate questions to ask, but the political process almost necessitates enough people willing to answer yes to those questions to facilitate change.
November is a key election for Congress. Progressives have a good chance to take at least one house of the legislature. It might be time for the left wing to start using their platform in the same way Kanye West is and some of them already have. But instead of the usual barbs at Trump or expressions of discontent with the current situation, it may be time for the endorsement of targeted and specific actions.
Kanye West’s new-found love affair with Trump is a sign of the times. It’s also the way the game is played now. The other team might want to figure that out before early November. What are you doing to counter Kanye’s narrative and support?