Kanye West’s presidential campaign — such as it is — is getting a little hard to watch. After a freewheeling interview with Forbes in which he highlighted Wakanda as a model for his White House and decried vaccines as demonic, he took the stage in North Carolina for his first campaign event. In front of a crowd of supporters, West stated his belief that Harriet Tubman “never actually freed the slaves,” suggested everyone who gets pregnant be given a million dollars and got into several heated exchanges with audience members.
Kanye West at his “campaign rally” in South Carolina: “Harriet Tubman never actually freed the slaves, she just had them work for other white people.”
Loud groans from the audience, “come on man” can be heard pic.twitter.com/Q9g92UvZ27
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) July 19, 2020
West also got emotional while discussing abortion, saying he’d considered ending he and his wife’s first pregnancy, though Kim Kardashian West ultimately chose to give birth to the couple’s first child, North. “I almost killed my daughter. I love my daughter. …God wants us to create.”
West will appear on the Oklahoma ballot, after paying the state’s $35,000 fee in lieu of getting the required number of signatures. He asked supporters sign a petition to get him on the South Carolina ballot, and will presumably be asking fans across the U.S. to do the same in their own states, though the deadline has already passed in several parts of the country.
For over fifteen years, Kanye West has been an unavoidable and frequently fascinating fixture of the cultural landscape. At his creative zenith, he released some of the most groundbreaking and important music of anyone in his generation. He’s also showed a keen mind for design, fashion, live music and discovering new talent, and he’s done it all while speaking his mind. Sometimes he said true things people didn’t want to hear. Sometimes he just said things people didn’t want to hear.
None of his excuses his past behavior, but it is important to remember just how we got here. West’s pivot to gospel music with Jesus Is King seemed to signify a new leaf and hopefully, in some ways, it did. But his haphazard campaign for the nation’s highest office shows that he’s still got some personal demons that would be better off wrestled in private with a strong support system.