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Can Kanye West Fix Politics?

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Kanye West made international headlines this week by coming out on Twitter in support of President Donald Trump. The two are admittedly an odd pair, one is a narcissistic genius obsessed with his own brand who has defined much of American culture in recent years, and the other a rapper and music producer with humble roots in Chicago. Kanye’s admission of political allegiance to the President polarized his massive fan base, with many declaring they can no longer support his music career, as if they’re not going to pay $24.99 to download the YeezyRecords app which will be the sole medium through which his next album is released.

Rappers speaking out on politics is nothing new. P. Diddy’s Rock the Vote campaign galvanized the youth in the early 2000s, with millions of young people setting up AIM away messages about the importance of voting before forgetting which day the election was held on. What’s unique is that musicians, and rappers in particular, have typically strongly favored Democratic candidates, with some rare exceptions such as Pat Boone and Hank Williams VII coming out in support of the GOP. Chance the Rapper further challenged this notion, tweeting out that “Black people don’t have to be Democrats,” leading dozens of National Review columnists to determine that rap music is cool now.

While it may have upset many in the liberal media, Kanye’s embrace of the President portends a major shift in the American political landscape. The average Republican voter is white, over 60 years old, and has injured themselves on at least one occasion from destroying a Keurig because Sean Hannity told them to. Kanye’s endorsement of the President signals to millions of Americans that supporting Trump isn’t just for people who own Ohio Chevy dealership or peripheral Duck Dynasty family members.

It’s larger than just Kanye and Trump, this moment in time proves that our political identities no longer have to be defined by our demographics and who we are expected to support. Whether we like it or not, celebrities have a large influence on our political culture. But real change will only occur if other celebrities follow Kanye’s lead and do the unconventional. When Scott Baio comes out in support of Medicare for All and Lena Dunham hits the campaign trail to get out the vote for Paul Nehlen, we will know we’ve truly reached a watershed moment where people no longer feel confined to support only the candidates that the media tells them are the right ones.

Politics in general is extremely unpopular in this country. We let nerds who spent their formative years campaigning for student council write our laws, while cool people who played JV football in high school sit on the political sidelines. When icons like Kanye go out on a limb to support a candidate, it signals to those who have been disengaged from the political process that voting isn’t just for adult virgins with posters of Harry Enten on their bedroom walls. Kanye is only trying to save our political system, maybe we should give him a chance.