Opinion

No room for jokes in politics

Too many voters aren’t taking politics seriously.

PaigeGrossBeing skeptical of politicians and the political process is nothing new. Since Watergate, my “Recent American History” professor and many others would argue, we, as a public, have developed a hearty disdain for the carefully coded language and gestures professional Washington types rely on.

Maybe that is why current presidential candidates Ben Carson, Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina, as part of their appeal, market their lack of political experience as one of the reasons they’d make a good world leader.

Is it that absurd, then, to consider Kanye West for the Oval Office?

West announced in his VMA acceptance speech last month: “Yes—as you probably could have guessed by this moment, I have decided in 2020 to run for president.”

Moments after his announcement, fan pages and Twitter accounts sprung up in support. The trend, #Kanye2020 was the most-tweeted phrase of the night. Days later, he had an official PAC, registered by a University of Maryland student, “Ready for Kanye.”

Whether or not Kanye was serious about running, the world—at least the internet world—has embraced the idea. Many have speculated the stunt was a joke—at least, we hope so, right?

But the reality is, some prefer West over any current candidate. One Bowie State student, Eugene Craig III, told the Huffington Post, “We think [West] is a champion of a lot of issues and he has an interesting perspective. [The PAC] is not just a joke.”

The sad fact is  even some part of the population would be willing to vote for a musical artist whose most up-to-date political experience is a selfie with current candidate Hillary Clinton.

I’ll try to fathom it. It’s understandable to be frustrated with the political system, to feel like no candidate completely fills your needs and aspirations. There will never be one person that a voter completely aligns with.

But, to ignore sifting through the thousands of tweets, stories, minutes of debate and commentary about those candidates to favor a rapper, who, in the face of Hurricane Katrina, blurted out, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” feels like a disgrace to the American people.

I’m a strong advocate for voting—it’s one of the few ways we truly get to interact with our government—but using that right to elect pop culture stars makes a mockery of our system.

West himself isn’t even sure what he wants in a political leader; last month he told Vanity Fair, “As soon as I heard [Ben] Carson speak, I tried for three weeks to get on the phone with him. I was like, ‘This is the most brilliant guy.’” Last week, though, BET reported West donated $15,000 to Clinton’s campaign.

In the past, presidents have come from a range of professions. While many have law and military experience, some shy away from that to come across more relatable. Jimmy Carter advertised himself as a peanut farmer, despite his time in the Navy and Ronald Reagan was president of the Screen Actors Guild before running for Governor of California.

Maybe Americans are hinting they need something new out of a candidate. It’s possible the career politicians aren’t representing the majority of citizens, but I won’t buy into the idea that Kanye West would be the best person to run our country.

It’s time we turn discontent into action and realize politics are not a joke. Though the 2016 election is almost locked down (we’re looking at you, Joe Biden). I’m hoping candidate Yeezus has some serious competitors in 2020. The state of affairs—and your place in deciding who runs them—is no laughing matter.

Paige Gross can be reached at paige.gross1@temple.edu or on Twitter @By_paigegross.

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