Kanye West declared his independent candidacy for President on the Fourth of July in a surprising rebuke of the Democratic and Republican parties. In a recent Forbes interview that reads like a fever dream, West announced the formation of the “Birthday Party” with the help of Elon Musk.
We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States 🇺🇸! #2020VISION— ye (@kanyewest) July 5, 2020
His principles are vague at best. West said, “I don’t know if I would use the word ‘policy’ for the way I would approach things." Despite the ridiculous non-platform of the Birthday Party, West’s candidacy gives remarkable insight into the current state of national politics. West is a reflection of Americans whose ideological views are not represented by either party.
It is common knowledge that the Democratic party represents those with a liberal ideology and the Republican party represents conservatives. This method of representation is heavily flawed, as it assumes a dichotomy of political beliefs. The two major party platforms simply cannot account for the wide spectrum of political beliefs held by Americans.
The West campaign is reminiscent of Ross Perot’s 1992 Reform party. Both were started by billionaire political outsiders with a contempt for both major parties. While Perot’s campaign failed to secure any electoral votes, he secured nearly 19% of the popular vote.
While the Reform party has since fizzled out, the anti-establishment sentiment remains. I don’t know a single Democrat that has an ounce of enthusiasm for Joe Biden. He is prone to embarrassing gaffes and has been accused of sexual misconduct by eight women. His 1994 "tough on crime" bill stands in direct opposition to his current position on mass incarceration and racial justice.
Yet, Biden is the only person that remotely even stands a chance to defeat the incumbent president. West’s campaign was doomed to fail the moment he announced he would be running outside of party boundaries.
What can be done to include a third or even fourth party in the national dialogue?
The issue lies with the way we cast our votes. We vote for one single candidate to lead the nation. The winner is determined by the electoral college, which assigns presidential votes based on whoever receives the most popular votes in any given state. This is known as First Past The Post (FPTP) voting. The FPTP option leads voters to pick the candidate they believe has the best chance of winning, not the one they agree with the most.
Voters in the 2020 Kansas Democratic Primary may have noticed that instead of selecting one candidate, they were instructed to rank them in order of preference. This is known as ranked choice voting, the preferred method of nations such as Ireland and Australia. Being able to vote this way enables voters to participate more in giving an opinion on more than one politician.
When you cast your vote in November and are forced to decide on a candidate, do not write in Kanye West or anyone else’s name as a protest against the broken electoral system. Instead, demand a candidate that commits to reforming our voting system to be more accessible and representative of the American people.
John Harris is a sophomore from Shawnee studying political science.