When Kanye West* first announced he was running for president about a month or so ago, I noted in a comment that this was a planned operation intended to provide a landing place for voters. Specifically, that West’s run, if he could get on the ballot in enough of the actual states that will count – Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan – that his stunt candidacy had the ability to spoil the presidential race, which would allow the President to once again lose the popular vote while eking out a very narrow victory through the Electoral College. Because this is Balloon Juice, and despite the fact that I have a PhD in political science (as well as criminology) and have provided some inputs to some candidates in the past (don’t ask, I have NDAs in place), hilarity ensued. And by hilarity I mean: let’s explain politics to the political scientist. Or as we call it here at Balloon Juice a day ending in day.
We’ve had ever more specific reporting over the past several days that not only is West’s attempt to run for president an actual attempt to spoil the election, but that it is one being directed by Republicans. West gave an interview by text to Forbes today where he confirmed that his candidacy is indeed an attempt to spoil VP Biden’s chances of getting elected (emphasis mine).
Amid various reports that Republican and Trump-affiliated political operatives are trying to get Kanye West onto various state ballots for November’s presidential election, the billionaire rap superstar indicated, in an interview by text today, that he was in fact running to siphon votes from the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden.
Asked about that directly, West said that rather than running for president, he was “walking,” quickly adding that he was “walking . . . to win.”
When it was pointed out that he actually can’t win in 2020—that he won’t be on enough ballots to yield 270 electoral votes, and that a write-in campaign isn’t feasible—and thus was serving as a spoiler, West replied: “I’m not going to argue with you. Jesus is King.”
And West was eager to criticize Biden, and expressed comfort with the idea of doing damage to the former vice president’s White House chances. “I’m not denying it; I just told you.”
I know that Kanye West is mentally ill. I also know that he needs serious, long term help that most likely includes some custodial care. I am pretty sure that the people who are taking advantage of him don’t care. None of that actually matters. If he can get onto the ballot in the states where the Electoral College battle will be fought, then he can spoil the election on behalf of the President. It won’t matter if by that point his family has finally been able to intervene and he’s in custodial care. It won’t matter if he’s so decompensated that he’s wandering around Wyoming claiming to be Vince Clortho, Frodo Baggins, the Bodhidharma, or the second coming of Jesus as Christ. Because he’ll already be on the ballot and that’s the way to achieving the objective of this influence operation.
If West is on the ballot in these states that are key to winning the Electoral College and he can peel off a few percent of the vote in each of them, he has the ability to create the opening for the President to once again eke out a very narrow Electoral College victory. The reason for that is not because he’s a serious candidate or have serious ideas on how to deal with America’s and American’s problems, but because he becomes a landing pad for those who are left of center and are in perpetual search of purity. And this isn’t just for low information voters or the poorly informed, it is for the highly informed who are searching for something radical. For instance, Professor Ricky L. Jones (emphasis mine):
Let’s start off with clarity. I am NOT a Republican! With that said …
It was ONE minor social media post from ONE man about his ONE vote. I wrote, “I’ve voted in every election since I was 18 and will vote this year as well. But I won’t be voting for Mitch McConnell OR Amy McGrath in Kentucky’s senate race. I’ll be writing in Charles Booker’s name. I encourage you to do the same.”
No big deal, right? WRONG!
The post certainly inspired some. Almost immediately, a number of Kentuckians chimed in that they were having difficulty accepting the milquetoast, fickle McGrath as well. They were looking for options and a potential Booker write-in movement seemed like a good one.
One of my own fraternity brothers, who garnered no traction in his obscure bid for McConnell’s seat, fired off an angry missive, “Dr. Ricky L. Jones attempts to HIJACK legitimately elected U.S. senate candidate Amy McGrath …” Oh my! Hijack?
“Get over it. Booker lost!” they said. “Even Booker wants us to support Amy,” they lectured. “We have to vote for the Democrat, no matter what!” Really? The hell I do!
Upon his death, many are now revisiting one of the most famous quotes from John Lewis, the Prince of Troy (Alabama), “We do not want our freedom gradually. We want to be free now! We are tired.” Lewis was 23 years old when he uttered those words at the 1963 March on Washington. He could have spoken them yesterday and they’d still be relevant.
I have nothing against Amy McGrath personally. I don’t know her. From what I’ve seen, she doesn’t really endeavor to connect with many people who look and think like me. She’s a symptom, not the disease. My issues are with the type of politician the Democrats repeatedly shove down our throats.
Since the 1960 presidential election, Black people have been the Democrats’ most loyal constituency. In return, they’ve been given little to nothing. At best, the Democrats demand we support gradualists of the sort Lewis and his mentor Martin Luther King Jr. railed against. At worst, it is expected that we religiously trot out and vote for candidates who don’t give a damn about us at all.
If the Democrats were plied with bourbon and truth serum they’d say, “Yes, our candidates are terrible and are, for the most part, status-quo oriented. We continuously try to get them through by using the tired argument that we aren’t as bad as the Republicans. Therefore, you should be scared as hell and keep voting for us even though we’re gonna screw you. We cool? Good. We’ll see you in two, four or six years when we need those Black votes again, OK?”
It’s truly amazing. The Democrats’ core arrogantly refuses to change but accuses citizens of good conscience who finally get to the point where they can no longer stomach supporting their woeful candidates of “handing elections to Republicans.” The argument would be amusing if it weren’t so insidious.
More at the link.
I have no idea who Professor Jones will vote for on November 3rd, he certainly doesn’t explicitly indicate one way or another in this op-ed, and I’m not particularly sanguine about McGrath’s chances to defeat McConnell, but Professor Jones is one of the people that a Kanye West candidacy is intended to target. The exceedingly diverse group of candidates that the Democrats fielded in 2018**, as well as again in this year’s congressional election appear to have escaped Professor Jones’ notice. As did the most diverse group of presidential primary candidates this year. But for people like Professor Jones, specifically highly educated left of center to far left Americans the sorting functions of primaries is not democracy at work. Nor is the recognition that politics is the art of the possible, of getting what you can when you can, then building off of it when the opportunity arises. Instead, the Democrats are really not much better, if they’re better at all, than the Republicans. A spoiler third party candidate is intended to provide a landing pad for the votes of Professor Jones of Michael Moore of Brianna Joy Gray of David Sirota of Susan Sarandon and all of those who will listen to them that the game is rigged, that both sides of the political coin are the same, and that positive chance, even if all that is possible is incremental, is unacceptable unless every demand is met and every ask is fully filled.
Kanye West’s candidacy is one part of a Republican influence operation, which will be paired with the Black PSYOP to dirty up Vice President Biden and his senior advisors and aides and attempts to paint whomever he chooses as his running mate, especially if that running mate is a woman of color and specifically an African American woman, which will be micro-targeted at young African American voters via social media in the attempt to both discourage them from voting or move them on to a third party protest vote.
Professor Jones and everyone else has the right to vote for whomever they want. That’s not the point to my highlighting his op-ed. The point is to highlight his understanding and beliefs about the Democratic Party, how it functions as a party, and politics. Professor Jones’ own description of these things make him the ideal target for the influence operations I’ve been documenting here for several years. His own words demonstrate that he’s the perfect target. It is not my place to tell anyone how they should vote or who they should vote for. But my job here is to explain what the influence operations, as well as the lines of effort and operation of those influence operations are so that we can be aware of them and be able to combat them. It will only take moving a couple of percentage points of voters to a third party candidate to spoil the 2020 election, which is why the Republican Party is using a vulnerable African American celebrity as one of the ways to achieve that end. It isn’t the joke, but it is the point.
** Congresswoman Omar drives me nuts with a lot of her positions, or, perhaps more accurately, with how she articulates them, but having the voice of an actual refugee who fled from danger through danger to reach the safety of the United States in the US Congress is something we desperately need and if I lived in her district I’d vote for her for just that reason.