The Corner

Politics & Policy

Why Kanye Can Be Healthy for American Politics

Kanye West arrives at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards in New York City, August 28, 2016. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Producer-turned-rapper-turned-entrepreneur-turned-politician Kanye West is about as likely as you or I to become president. And even if he had a conceivable chance to ascend to the highest political office a few days ago, he has since confirmed all the accusations of his mental instability by claiming that Harriet Tubman didn’t really free slaves, and by getting into high-profile arguments with Kim Kardashian (his wife) and several of his in-laws. Still, we should be hesitant to dismiss Kanye West as utterly pointless. At least in one respect, he is actually a good guy to have around: He is like the child exposing the emperor’s nakedness.

Needless to say, the dignitas of past American leaders like Washington and Adams is sorely lacking in Kanye West. But no one expects or needs Kanye to be dignified and noble — he is not even a major threat to our two-party system. Still, Kanye’s comical presence can counter the religious obsession with politics as the end-all of human existence, present in its purest and most lethal form in the Marxist and fascist regimes of the 20th century.

As many of us are stuck in vicious daily partisan battles, neglecting the most important things in life in attaching ever-growing importance to our politics, ecce Kanye: He bursts our bubble, perhaps without intending to, speaking of his new movement, the “Birthday Party,” and pondering million-dollar government checks for people who have babies. Ecce Kanye, infusing light-hearted pop culture into the political process even as the media ominously proclaim that the November election is the most important of our lifetimes. As we momentarily direct our attention from our ostensibly grave and somber politics to the figure of “Ye,” might we not be reminded through the man’s ridiculousness of the utter insignificance of our political spats in the face of more important callings such as faith, hope and charity?

None of this is to say that there aren’t issues worth fighting for. Each day, our constitutional freedoms are put in danger as far-left activists push to shut down even the most subtle dissenters. China looms in the East, crushing any helpless entity in its path while the West stands idly by for the sake of financial advantage. Thousands of unborn children are torn to death in abortion clinics. But can we honestly say that the majority of our daily battles, whether on Twitter, Facebook, or in real life, are in the service of important principles and not in the service of an indulging self-entertainment akin to rooting for one’s favorite sports team? I, sadly, cannot. I suspect that many others can’t either. So let’s enjoy Kanye West’s run while it lasts, making sure not to fall into the trap of regarding him as a legitimate example of the “new normal” of our politics but rather beholding the rapper as a reminder of what most of our political activity really is under the surface: a well-decorated and flashy puff of air.


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