Rapper and fashion designer Kanye West has threatened to claim the role of US presidency before in 2015, and now he’s done it again. On Saturday 4 July, West announced on Twitter that he would be running for president by tweeting: “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 Flag of United States! #2020VISION.”
And, just like everybody else who heard the news, we wondered: is he serious? Surely if West meant it, we would be seeing a mad dash to catch up on campaigning with just four months until the election? Although West has already missed the deadline to appear on 6 major state ballots, 2020 has taught us that impossibility is always questionable. Has the celebrity taken any steps to certify his new shocking statement? And, more importantly, is West really running for president?
With 44 states plus the District of Columbia to go, we’ve dissected the possibility of West gaining a seat in the Oval Office. As an American citizen older than 35—fact: he’s 38—and having lived in the US for longer than 14 years, West already checks a few of the requirements for running for president in America.
Speaking to Reuters about what exactly West would have to do to launch a late White House bid, political scientist James McCann explained that the rapper has two options in doing so. Option one, he could try to secure the backing of a smaller political party such as the Libertarian Party (LP), among others.
In case that option didn’t work out, West could choose to appear as an independent candidate, which means he would have no affiliation with any political party. This would also require him to gather support and momentum very quickly from now, which usually means getting recruiters to collect thousands of signatures before the next two deadlines in August and September—a tricky task to perform in the midst of a pandemic, even for West.
Getting elected is complex. Each state has its own benchmark rules, and there are two key components for successful candidacy: time to persuade and money. West’s time is evidently limited compared to other candidates, however, the surreal following that West and his wife Kim Kardashian West both have on social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram is immense, which could be seen as an advantage. For example, Elon Musk was quick to answer West’s #2020vision tweet with his support.
If West sets some forward motion to his promises, it’s hard to imagine what this means for Trump or Biden. Who will lose the votes that the rapper gains? From endorsing Trump to now potentially running against him, I can’t help but look at this and question West’s alter-motives as someone who has vocally shown his admiration towards Trump in recent months. Is he really wanting to run for president, or is he just trying to interrupt the current voting trends?
Another critical step that West would have to take is to register with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), and so far, there’s no public proof of him doing that. This has led to some speculation on whether this is all a publicity stunt in preparation for his upcoming album God’s Country due to be released soon. Convenient enough?
Yesterday, Twitter saw Anonymous, a group of hacktivists known for its cyber-attacks against governments, institutions and corporations post a new video after a few years of absence. In it, an activist wearing the group’s recognisable Guy Fawkes mask promises to expose Minneapolis Police Department’s “many crimes to the world,” following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin. The footage ends with the message: “We are legion. Expect us.”
Furthermore, unrelated to the protests currently happening all over the US, Anonymous has also tweeted that it has uploaded documents with evidence against Donald Trump, Jeffrey Epstein and other high-profile figures. So who exactly is Anonymous and what else has the group of hacktivists revealed yesterday?
The group named Anonymous began on 4chan in 2003. It is a decentralised group of hackers with no leadership and famous for never revealing its members’ identity. When posting videos online, Anonymous members usually wear a Guy Fawkes mask, the same mask worn by protesters in the novel and film V for Vendetta. Members also disguise their voices by using voice changers or text-to-speech programmes.
Originally focused on entertainment, Anonymous gradually became associated with activism on many international issues. 17 years after its conception, Anonymous is mostly known for its highly publicised cyber-attacks against specific institutions. This reputation began in 2008, when the group targeted the Church of Scientology in a series of cyber-attacks which incited in-person protests against the church.
Two years after that, in 2010, Anonymous went after Airplex software, a company that worked with film studios to shut down copyright infringement websites. Anonymous shut down Airplex’s website for a day, saying: “Anonymous is tired of corporate interests controlling the internet and silencing the people’s rights to spread information, but more importantly, the right to SHARE with one another.”
In 2012, Anonymous brought PayPal’s website down in retaliation for shutting off service to Julian Assange’s Wikileaks, which cost the company millions.
In 2011 and 2012, Anonymous took actions to support the Arab Spring movement by helping Tunisians protect web browsers from government surveillance and helping dissidents in Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Jordan and Zimbabwe. The collective also hacked Israeli websites after the 2012 Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip.
In 2014, Anonymous hackers attacked Ferguson City Hall’s website after the shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer, which started riots throughout the city. At that time, Anonymous went on to threaten local police with cyber-attacks if protesters were abused or harassed.
Back to 2020, new protests have erupted in the US for the same reason as the demonstrations that took place in 2014: protesting against police brutality and systemic racism. While the group of hacktivists has clearly stated it will go after the Minneapolis Police Department’s, it also released some other shocking documents.
If you haven’t followed the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, here’s a little recap for you. After working as a teacher, Epstein moved into high finance when he persuaded the father of one of his pupils to give him a job at Bear Stearns. He quickly rose through the company and set out on his own as a financial consultant after just five years with the bank.
In 2008, Epstein was charged with soliciting prostitution from underage girls, and served a short jail sentence thanks to a plea deal widely seen as too clement. While awaiting trial on charges of sex trafficking, Epstein took his own life in his jail cell in New York in 2019.
Prince Andrew met Epstein in 1999. Last year, after a picture emerged of Prince Andrew with one of Epstein’s accusers, he became part of the Epstein scandal. The picture was said to have been taken at Epstein’s London address. Further claims were made against Prince Andrew, who has since said he only saw Epstein once or twice a year and stayed “in a number of his residences”, but cut ties with him in 2011 after a photo of the pair walking together attracted criticism.
The duke denied ever witnessing or suspecting any concerning behaviour from Epstein. That being said, the Duke of York has now been relieved of his public duties due to his involvement in the scandal and his friendship with the late Epstein.
Although it was already known before Anonymous posted its recent video that Trump was friends with Epstein, the US President has recently always been quick to dismiss any kind of friendship. And yet, Donald Trump was pictured with Epstein at many events through the years and had once called him “terrific.”
Both moved in the same circles for years, but Trump insisted he only knew Epstein because of his own club in Palm Beach, where Trump was photographed with Epstein in 2001.
On the 31 May, Anonymous tweeted that it has uploaded documents which contain incriminating evidence against Donald Trump in the cases of Epstein’s alleged sexual assault. The collective also claimed it has evidence that the British royal family had Princess Diana murdered. Many of these tweets have since disappeared, but screenshots are still circulating online.
After launching a threat against the US government following the death of George Floyd, the group of cyber activists explained that if the government was not willing to bring justice in the case, Anonymous would then begin to expose some of the crimes that the US has been hiding.
A few hours after the Anonymous video hit the internet, the collective exposed the connection of many celebrities to the Epstein child trafficking scandal. As mentioned before, Trump was listed in what Anonymous called ‘The Little Black Book of Jeffrey Epstein’—a list of all the people who attended parties organised by Jeffrey Epstein, where it is said that he “recruited the children.”
These names included Ivanka and Ivana Trump, Chris Evans (the English TV host, not to be confused with the American Marvel actor), Mick Jagger, Will Smith, and more. Among those names was the English supermodel Naomi Campbell.
Not only did Anonymous threaten the US government and the Minneapolis Police Department, it then took down the Minneapolis police website and hacked Chicago’s police radio to play ‘Fuck the Police’ on loop in order to stop officers from communicating with each other.
More secrets are expected to be revealed as long as the US police keep arresting protesters instead of “the real criminals.”