As the roundtable format has grown into an effectively direct way for a publication to think out loud for its readers’ perusal, we’re happy to debut SPINfighting, a new column where the SPIN staff will debate about a new wrinkle in the musical landscape every week. In this edition, we discussed the realities of whether or not Kanye West could actually become president after his impromptu bid for the 2020 candidacy at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards.
What are the best and worst case scenarios of a Kanye presidency?
Harley Brown: Worst case scenario: poor impulse control, last-minute vetos. Did you see how Van Toeffler had to deal with the possibility that he might change his mind at the last minute? That’s very worrisome.
Rachel Brodsky: Best case: Kanye unites the world with a shared adoration of Kanye West.
Dan Weiss: Kanye West: Uniter. At last!
Rachel Brodsky: Worst case: Kanye West accidentally insults every world dignitary.
Dan Weiss: “Accidentally.”
Rachel Brodsky: Also, being the president only pays something like $400,000 a year, and I don’t see Kanye standing for that.
Andrew Unterberger: I think both the best and worst case scenario is that he loses interest a week in and resigns.
Dan Weiss: Or asks Rick Rubin to finish the presidency for him.
Harley Brown: See I don’t think so, though, because he’s very passionate about fashion. I guess that in and of itself is also troubling: My counterpoint to him losing interest in the United States presidency is, “He has a passion for fashion.”
Kyle McGovern: Worst case: We vote someone not at all qualified to be president into the White House.
Colin Joyce: Look Kyle, neither was Reagan.
James Grebey: Guys, I think we all know that, similar to how Woodrow Wilson’s wife ran the show after he had a stroke, Kim is going to be the power behind the West White House.
Dan Weiss: I feel like his impulse control isn’t so bad compared to other presidents; for some reason I believe in his monogamous abilities. What scandal could threaten his bid?
James Grebey: Kim’s sex tape is a non-issue at this point, as well it should be.
Dan Weiss: That’s why she’s the perfect first lady, post-scandal invulnerability. No double jeopardy in the court of public opinion.
Harley Brown: The question is, could he still have a musical career?
Colin Joyce: Does he still have a music career now?
Dan Weiss: COLIN.
James Grebey: Barack has two Grammys!
What are Kanye’s strengths and weaknesses as a candidate?
Rachel Brodsky: Strength: says what you want to hear, calls bulls–t on bulls–t. Weakness: He’ll spend two hours doing it, and you’ll never get back to your previous broadcast.
Harley Brown: Was about to type the same thing.
Andrew Unterberger: Strength: He’s very good at collecting input from a number of well-chosen consultants and then presenting his own take as a unified front.
James Grebey: Kanye West cares about black people, even though he hasn’t really been all that openly responsive to the Black Lives Matter movement. He could be hiding the open support of the movement, biding his time before 2020.
Kyle McGovern: Weakness: Impatient with wait staff, particularly those serving croissants.
Andrew Unterberger: Weakness: Oft-avowed distaste for punctuality. And he’s kind of played fast and loose with correct recognition of the nationalities of others (“No, that’s Brazilian,” “Like the Romans,” etc.).
Harley Brown: Well, his weakness, if we’re speaking in terms of superhero movies, is North.
James Grebey: Like in the season four finale of The West Wing, where Zooey Bartlet gets kidnapped, and President Bartlet needs to temporarily withdraw from office because he can’t make rational decisions.
Harley Brown: He would also probably try to redesign the White House.
Rachel Brodsky: Oh, it’s long overdue.
Who should be his running mate?
Harley Brown: Travis Scott, lol. Barack!
Andrew Unterberger: This is probably too obvious, but I feel the only logical choice is Taylor Swift. She balances him in all the necessary ways.
James Grebey: But she won’t be 35 in 2020.
Rachel Brodsky: Tay would be a good Secretary of State, I think.
Andrew Unterberger: Very fair point. Beyoncé would be other most obvious choice.
Rachel Brodsky: Yeah, but that would require Beyoncé to speak to the press.
James Grebey: A White House that doesn’t like to speak to the press is hardly unprecedented.
Colin Joyce: Provided Joe Biden is still alive, I feel like that’d work out OK.
Kyle McGovern: Biden definitely listens to Kanye’s records. They both hate malarkey.
REPORTER: Mr. President, what’s your favorite Wu Tang album? OBAMA: What kind of question is — [biden grabs podium] BIDEN: LIQUID SWORDS
— Flatulence Incarnate (@blippoblappo) April 26, 2014
Colin Joyce: Biden definitely loves Graduation and MBDTF. He really wanted to like Yeezus.
Dan Weiss: I could see Biden using the term “swish.”
Kyle McGovern: Hov?
Andrew Unterberger: Too much natural competition with Hov, and neither of them could actually ever play a role that explicitly subjugated one to the other.
Are there other musicians who seem like they could legitimately hold office?
Dan Weiss: Wyclef was widely criticized when he ran for president of Haiti.
James Grebey: Well, because he also ran a charity that’s a scam, raised millions and donated, like, $30 to earthquake relief.
Rachel Brodsky: Bruce Springsteen?
Dan Weiss: Bruce doesn’t seem like a behind-desk kind of guy, he’d maybe work in the White House garage and fix the secret service limos.
Harley Brown: More like on top of the desk HEYOOOO
Dan Weiss: I feel like Bono could legitimately hold a seat at the U.N., and his record is annoyingly clean.
James Grebey: Bono already has some unofficial ambassador role.
Andrew Unterberger: Pitbull will almost undoubtedly be an elected official in Florida at some point in the next decade.
James Grebey: Oh 100 percent, Pitbull actually is a current political force.
Colin Joyce: I could see Billy Corgan getting elected as a libertarian congressman.
Andrew Unterberger: Also we’re probably well overdue for someone from the post-Garth Brooks country explosion to hold office somewhere down south, maybe Garth himself.
Dan Weiss: Or Miranda Lambert.
Colin Joyce: Somehow the idea of Bruce Springsteen in politics is more depressing than like, actual evil men running the world. Like, I will take my chances, thanks Bruce.
Is Kanye better-suited for the presidency now than in his telethon-disrupting days?
Andrew Unterberger: It does seem like fatherhood has made him second-guess his more impulsive instincts more, at the very least. Also, the stable family life makes him a more attractive president.
James Grebey: He’s more used to criticism. And marginally — marginally — better at taking it.
Rachel Brodsky: Yes and no; if his VMA speech showed anything, it’s that he’s still a stream-of-consciousness-style speaker.
Harley Brown: He was also high though, you can’t do drugs in office.
Dan Weiss: Pretty sure in 2020 that will be different. Plus, if you think Barry and Joe haven’t lit one up in the Oval Office…
Colin Joyce: But legal marijuana is definitely a majorly appealing part of his potential campaign.
Dan Weiss: I will say that, since I view his stalling on SWISH to be a sign of artistic fatigue, that something like politics being his next target looks more legit to me. I don’t see him struggling to do both at once. He seems like the kind of dude to throw a giant retirement-from-music bonanza for himself a la Hov and LCD Soundsystem.
Harley Brown: The thing is: Would the average American have a beer with Kanye? And the answer to that is, I think, no. Which will be a problem.
Andrew Unterberger: It’s impossible for me to imagine Kanye drinking a beer, period.
Rachel Brodsky: Would the average American smoke a spliff with Kanye?
Dan Weiss: YES.
James Grebey: The cool ones would.
Dan Weiss: And the smart ones.
Colin Joyce: It took Kanye for me to get excited about pop music as a pretentious teen, maybe that’s what it’ll take for me to get excited about politics.
Whether or not he was joking, what else could ‘Ye do to surprise us at this point?
James Grebey: Release SWISH.
So would you vote for President Kanye in 2020?
Rachel Brodsky: It depends on who he’s up against. If it came down to ‘Ye vs. Trump, I’d go with ‘Ye.
Dan Weiss: I mean, if it came down to a packing peanut versus Trump…
Harley Brown: What about ‘Ye versus Hillary? That’s what I’m curious about; we’ve already had a black man in office but not a woman.
Dan Weiss: Imagine if Hillary won this primary and picked Kanye as her running mate. Then EVERYONE would win.
Harley Brown: Maybe he’ll create his own party.
Dan Weiss: If anyone could legitimize a third party to like, televised debate level, it would be ‘Ye.
Kyle McGovern: Have we ever elected a college dropout president? (Honest question, wondering if there’s a historical precedent.)
James Grebey: Scott Walker currently running for Republican nomination…
Kyle McGovern: But not elected.
Colin Joyce: If he is divine, wouldn’t it be against the constitution for him to sit in any political office? Like, we couldn’t have President Jesus , so why is President Yeezus okay?
Andrew Unterberger: Even if he was just a god of something relatively small-stakes? God of Leisurewear or something?
James Grebey: I don’t think the constitution explicitly prevents gods from running.
Colin Joyce: We’ll have to double check this. Dan, I expect you to read the constitution and put an editor’s note in here.
Kyle McGovern: But to actually answer the question: Would I vote for ‘Ye? Nah.
Rachel Brodsky: As much as I love the entertainment value of a Kanye presidency, no, I wouldn’t vote for him.
Dan Weiss: I voted for Kerry and would feel a lot less stupid voting for ‘Ye. It would definitely feel more meaningful ten years out.
Andrew Unterberger: It depends on the platform and the opposition, but if I’m still working on the Internet in 2020, it’d feel like a betrayal of my people not to at least see what would happen.
James Grebey: I would not vote for current Kanye West. I do truly believe it’s possible, though unlikely, that at some point he could become a legitimate and attractive candidate. I still have doubts that he could get elected even then. We’ll always be able to look back and wish that we’d voted for the ‘Ye ticket, because hindsight is…2020.
Colin Joyce: If I have enough to care about in life that by 2020 I’m already registered to vote, I would do something responsible. But if not, then I’d totally vote for him to piss on the electoral process, why not?
Harley Brown: I would quit whatever job I have in 2020 and campaign for ‘Ye. This country needs a good, swift kick in the ass.