Rapper, producer, fashion designer and professional controversy generator Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, recently entered yet another phase of rampant public stupidity.
After repeatedly making bizarre and disturbing antisemitic comments, Ye announced on Thanksgiving that he would be making his second attempt at a presidential campaign for 2024. He then sat down for dinner with former President Donald Trump and brought outspoken white nationalist Nick Fuentes as an unannounced guest.
This is an ugly and chaotic situation. Ye is doing serious damage to himself and others with his racist rants and associations, and as a person who has long been a fan of his art, I am sad to see him going even further off the deep end.
That being said, I am here to tell you that Ye’s campaign announcement is not important news. You have every right to take the campaign lightly or even ignore it entirely.
The first thing to remember if you are worried about Ye running for president is that he does not stand a serious chance of winning.
Looking at the numbers from his last rush for the White House in 2020, we have no reason to expect him to get the votes necessary for a victory. That year, Ye received 70,296 votes. Granted, that feels like a higher number than it should have been, but let’s put it in perspective.
Those 70,296 votes made up 0.04% of the total 160 million. Jo Jorgensen was the nominee for the Libertarian Party, which – though a long established party in American politics – is never a serious contender for the presidency. Jorgensen received around 1.9 million votes – 27 times the amount of Ye.
To be fair, Ye was late to announce his candidacy in 2020, which meant his name was only on ballots in 18 states. However, if he were to have a similar average performance in all 50 states, he would still only land at around 195,000 votes – not nearly enough to compete with even the Libertarian candidate, let alone a Republican or Democrat.
The next thing to realize is that treating Ye as a legitimate political candidate – even in criticizing him – is likely to add fuel to the dumpster fire.
Ye’s long and turbulent career has proven that he is largely motivated by attention, whether or not it is positive. This was demonstrated well on the day of the Super Bowl earlier this year. In the middle of ranting about his ex wife, Kim Kardashian, having a relationship with comedian Pete Davidson, Ye took a moment to point out that his name was trending higher than the Super Bowl on the day of the game.
He probably did have strong feelings about the mother of his children moving on from him, but he also clearly knows how to get people talking about him, and that is what he did.
Many other moments throughout his career show him to be driven by criticism as well, such as his 2013 interview with DJ and producer Zane Lowe. Ye passionately called out fashion leaders for keeping him from their industry, claiming that in 10 years they would see the brilliance of his words, actions and products.
Now, if people are committed to telling him all of the reasons he would be a terrible president, he could very well push even harder to try and reach some vengeful level of success. That is not to say that he could really win, but he could gain more political influence in other ways that we really do not need as a society.
The final reason to take a casual observer’s perspective on Ye’s presidential campaign is simply to avoid adding any more political stress to your life than you already have.
This is a politically volatile time. With how polarized most issues are today, my guess is that if you pay attention to politics at all, no matter where your opinions line up, you are deeply worried about some aspect of our country.
Those concerns are not a bad thing. I am not suggesting that you throw up your hands and give up on taking any social issues seriously because everyone is corrupt, and we can’t hope to change anything. Rather, I am recommending that you allocate your mental resources carefully.
You cannot think about everything. Pick important topics that you care about and focus on learning and talking about those in an effort to do some good. If you feel overwhelmed with anxiety over election results and are now tempted to direct some of that worry toward Ye taking over the White House, I hereby give you permission to relax.
There is an argument to be made that making light of this situation is insensitive both to Ye – whose mental health has long been suspect – and to those who are actually hurt by his outrageous statements.
I will address the artist himself first. Mentally stable or not, he has put himself in a position to be seen by just about everyone. Along with that comes all the praise, criticism, mockery and eye-rolling that the public can muster. Yes, we should have some compassion for him, but we are also justified in laughing when he acts like a buffoon.
The more important issue here is the effect his words have on others. That should absolutely be taken seriously. Podcaster Lex Fridman recently interviewed Ye and gave him excellent pushback while also showing love and decency. He talked about how Ye’s incessant use of the term “Jewish media” is all too reminiscent of the Nazi propaganda that led to the Holocaust.
It may not be Ye’s aim to incite a genocide, but when he paints an ethnic group as a conspiratorial force controlling our access to information, it can create resentment and hatred that we know can lead to violence. Of course this is a serious problem. The fact that he wants to be the leader of the free world without a real chance of doing it is just a meaningless distraction taking away from the real issue.
Ye is going to keep doing what Ye does: saying outlandish things hoping to stir up a reaction. He is free to keep the clown show going, and you are free to sit back and see it for what it is. Don’t promulgate his racist rhetoric, and don’t view his political campaign as an existential threat to our democracy.
2024 is going to be another pivotal time in America’s history. Pay attention to the key players, and do what you can to promote worthy causes. Whatever else you do, do not let Ye’s pointless and narcissistic campaign add any weight to your shoulders.
Will Cook is a junior philosophy and journalism major. Reach him at email@example.com.