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A Psychologist’s Perspective on the Kanye vs. Trump Presidential Candidacy

Dr. Rachel Kitson

Well, Kanye has done it again, complicated and conflicted man that he is: blown up the VMA’s with yet another borderline coherent, questionably profound, and at times maniacal, bizarre-o rant. The world is your stage, Mr. Yeezy, and we are all awaiting your next move. After being awarded the VMA Video Vanguard Award, and deservingly so, Ye launched into a 12 minute acceptance speech. He rightfully called out MTV for their ratings generating stunt of having Taylor Swift present the award to Kanye, and then waxed poetic about the impact his own daughter has had on his reflections on his infamous interruption of Swift during her acceptance speech 6 years ago. He launched into a litany of non-sequiturs and contradictory ruminations connected loosely by a very thin thread of what the world is coming to understand as Kanye’s consciousness.

lasvegasnvblog_c2a5lasvegasnvblog_kanye-west-president1You could practically see the mental gymnastics undergone, as Kanye battles his own inner demons and conflicting thought processes. He provides a full access view of his internal combustion machine. The 38 year old identified himself as a millennial, hopefully as reference to his perceived youthfulness at heart rather than his chronological age, and called upon ‘his generation,’ his bros, to teach their kids to stand up for theyselves. There were a few genuine head scratchers, such as when he stated/asked/proposed: “Just worry about how you feel and don’t NEVER … you know what I’m saying?”

Nope.

He goes on poignantly, to reference his own insecurities and desire just to be liked by more people, and in the same breath references his Christ-like sacrifice for art and ideas. The fact that Kanye tempers his egomania with his almost cringe-worthy openness about his anxieties, does have a humanizing effect. He was a step ahead of the critics, when he called himself out on the tangential thinking. Lest someone wonder whether other substances contributed to his flight of thought, Yeezy forewarned that, yes, he did indeed roll up a little something to “knock the edge off” before accepting the award.

Tortured genius he may be, what has generated the most spin from Kanye’s speech was his bid announcement as a presidential candidate for 2020. And if you turned away or blinked (and who could during such a riveting train wreck that was much of the VMA’s performances?) you might be confused based on his initial stance on the matter, since at the beginning of his monologue he states: “I’m not no politician, bro!” And while he then goes on to pontificate on art and ideas and the industry, in the background of his thoughts, it’s clear this notion of whether or not he indeed has a role in the political arena has not been settled in his mind.

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During the next ten minutes Kanye apparently crunches some numbers and realizes that while a chance at political office is impractical for 2016, or maybe just because 2020 sounds more dope, there had been a meeting of the minds, the prophecy had been revealed, and he announced: “And yes, as you probably could have guessed by this moment, I have decided in 2020 to run for president.” I’d like to know who, besides perhaps one of Kanye’s alternate personalities, would have possibly guessed at that moment he was going to announce that.

But why not? After all, would a Kanye presidential bid really be such a shocking notion in this political climate with the likes of Donald Drumpf, with his clementine complexion and cotton candy hair of Towers and reality TV show fame, putting in a bid for the big office? Let’s say we somehow survived a Drumpf term and Kanye fulfills his promise to run in 2020. Are we talking race to the finish between potential blowhards or revolutionaries? While it may be demoralizing to our democracy, a presidential election between Kanye and Drumpf would make for the most excellent spectacle. And, it might potentially lead to the highest poll numbers in history.

shutterstock_180961934In some circles (a.k.a. most major minority demographics in the voting public), Drumpf is considered a jerk, to put it nicely. He’s fallen in with the ranks of other cyber bullies who tweet insults that might otherwise be heard being tossed around by some catty teenagers: calling people out for looking “bloated,” having “a bad complexion,” and for being a “moron,” “dummy,” and a “loser.” He’s referred to Mexicans as druggies and rapists, stated laziness is a trait of “blacks,” and made numerous derogatory comments about women, various religions, and even environmentalists! He also takes time out of his day to espouse ludicrous and unsolicited advice to celebrities via the throne of his Twitter account—it was Drumpf who cautioned Robert Pattinson to not take Kristin Stewart back and Katy Perry to watch out for John Mayer because he “dates and tells.” He self-assessed his own intelligence as being “one of the highest,” so other “losers” and “haters” wouldn’t feel “so stupid or insecure.” The guy is a megalomaniac of astronomical proportions. If we could divvy up his cockiness and siphon it to every middle school aged child, it would end the world’s “self-esteem” crisis. Regardless of your persuasions on Drumpf, his epic notoriety has its own gravitational pull.

“The moderator would be pulverized…”
If Kanye and Drumpf were to go head to head in a political debate we could certainly count on the fact that there would need to be at least two translators and one urban dictionary involved the way these guys throw words and concepts around like they are re-writing the OED. The moderator would be pulverized, if not by the inflation of so much ego in one space, but by simply having absolutely no opportunity to get a word in edge wise. No more passive aggressive digs under the guise of faux-polite rhetoric.

Drumpf and Kanye both know how to stir the pot and certainly drive ratings. They both understand how to use social media and hashtags; more so than most political fuddy duddies. They are both known for being equal opportunity offenders and for lacking a filter, much less a politically correct one. And frankly, people are sick of the political filter and infantilizing of the American public, not to mention most politicians’ lack of touch in terms of connecting with voters. shutterstock_312956195After being called out for his offensiveness and ignorance Drumpf responded that “I’ve been challenged by so many people, and I don’t frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time either.” Touché.

Kanye and Drumpf have a lot of things in common with some of the stereotypical traits of politicians, and celebrity of course. They both possess inflated egos, a sense of entitlement, almost paranoid and conspiratorial notions, have a relatively shallow knowledge base about a lot of things paired with no qualms about being an expert despite a lack of qualifications, and have been rampantly successful in an unrelated industry so therefore have enough money to fund a campaign and pay off corporations and sponsors. The first families each would bring to the White House are comparable, and what we could expect in terms of public speaking would probably be equally unpredictable, heretical, and debauched. The following are some surprising, and maybe not so surprising, things these presidential wannabes have in common:

Both are operating in the 1% but claim to relate to the common man

Even though Kanye supported the Occupy Wall Street movement, or at least used Zuccotti Park for a media appearance, he makes up the elitist circles the movement was reacting to. Drumpf, as a populist, is concerned with the backbone of American capitalism: the small town business person. Despite this, the two couldn’t currently be more out of touch with the common everyman or everywoman.

Kanye: “I don’t even listen to rap. My apartment is too nice to listen to rap in.”

“Fur pillows are hard to actually sleep on.”

“My greatest power…I’m not a billionaire. I may not be the richest person on the planet. I might not be the most attractive guy. I might not be the most liked, but, I right now, because of ‘New Slaves’, and because of the position I’ve always taken, have the most powerful voice by a mile. By a mile. And I’m gonna use that…I’ve got a trillion dollars worth of voice!”

Drumpf:  “Part of the beauty of me is that I am very rich.”

“The point is, you can never be too greedy.”
…”You know the funny thing, I don’t get along with rich people. I get along with the middle class and the poor people better than I get along with the rich people.”

Both could be considered savants and madmen

Both have moments of idiocracy and moments of clairvoyance. They speak in such extreme and yet round about ways it can leave one wondering if they really know what they think they are saying.

Kanye: “You should only believe about 90 percent of what I say. As a matter of fact, don’t even believe anything that I’m saying at all. I could be completely f**king with you, and the world, the entire time.”

“If I were to write my title like going through the airport and you have to put down what you do? I would literally write ‘creative genius’ except for two reasons: Sometimes it takes too long to write that and sometimes I spell the word ‘genius’ wrong. The irony.”

Drumpf: “The point is that if you are a little different, or a little outrageous, or if you do things that are bold or controversial, the press is going to write about you.”

“I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created.”

Both want to incite, not be polite

Their commitment to provocation may be an antidote to increasingly partisan politics, and lead to more honesty, frankness, and transparency. These guys don’t know the definition of a filter and are equal opportunity offenders. They don’t shy away from a controversial statement.

Drumpf: “@ariannahuff is unattractive both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man—he made a good decision.”

Kanye: “So the next day I went to the studio with Daft Punk, and I wrote ‘I Am a God,’Cause it’s like, yo! Nobody can tell me where I can and can’t go. Man, I’m the No. 1 living and breathing rock star. I am Axl Rose; I am Jim Morrison; I am Jimi Hendrix.”

“Sometimes people write novels and they just be so wordy and so self-absorbed. I am not a fan of books. I would never want a book’s autograph. I am a proud non-reader of books”

Both are angry about a lot of crap

Kanye seems to be part of a constant open ended protest against inherent evils of the world, and interested in inciting a basically aimless coalition against injustice, however Kanye terms to define it. He seeks to enlist the “authentic” masses in his army. Drumpf rages on all those he identifies as the idiots, morons, light weights, and losers of the world on the regular. He also makes no qualms about blatantly trashing current government practices, not to mention spreading asinine rumors about the current president.

Drumpf: “Free trade is terrible. Free trade can be wonderful if you have smart people. But we have stupid people.”

“How come every time I show anger, disgust or impatience, enemies say I had a tantrum or meltdown—stupid or dishonest people?”

“Obamacare kicks in in 2016. Obama’s going to be out playing golf. He might even be on one of my courses, I would invite him, I actually would say. I have the best courses in the world, so I would say — you know what, if he wants to — I have one right next to the White House, right on the Potomac. If he’d like to play, that’s fine. In fact, I’d love him to leave early and play.”

Kanye: “I’m not gonna be Tesla, in my basement, inventin’ all kinds of shit and people stealin’ they ideas and you die broke!…And I’m not talking about the car. That’s why I’m turnin up! That’s why I’m turning! Cause I want my turn!”

“I believe that utopia is actually possible—but we’re led by the least noble, the least dignified, the least tasteful, the dumbest, and the most political. So in no way am I a politician—I’m usually at my best politically incorrect and very direct.”

Both evoke paradoxes and talk in hyperbole

Both men are often walking contradictions, but they don’t care. They shoot from the hip and espouse very black and white / all or nothing viewpoints then turn around and espouse the opposite and seem to have no qualms doing so, in fact, it may be a point of pride or egocentricity.

Kanye: “I believe that bad taste is vulgar. It’s like cursing. I think the world can be saved through design, because what is the most distasteful thing someone can do? Kill someone. So, good taste is the opposite of that.”

“I’m a pop enigma. I live and breathe every element in life. I rock a bespoke suit and I go to Harold’s for fried chicken. It’s all these things at once, because, as a taste maker, I find the best of everything.”

Drumpf: “I do great with Latino voters. I employ so many Latinos. I have so many people working for me. I’m a job creator. I create jobs. I’m a master job creator. No politician knows how to create jobs. They’re all talk, they’re no action. They don’t know what they’re doing. And you know, the Latinos love Drumpf and I love them.”

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

“The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts.”

Both desire to exert massive global influence and feel no modesty about announcing it

It’s not that these guys just both have healthy egos, but the staggering grandiosity which they both credit themselves with time and time and time again! And each have referenced their deity like and deity given talents.lasvegasnvblog_c2b3lasvegasnvblog_kanye-west-donald-trump-250x2521

Kanye: “I am so credible and so influential and so relevant that I will change things.

I feel like I’m too busy writing history to read it.”

“I’m like a vessel, and God has chosen me to be the voice and the connector.”

Drumpf: “I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created. I will bring back our jobs from China, from Mexico, from Japan, from so many places. I’ll bring back our jobs and I’ll bring back our money.”

Both fulfill their industry stereotypes

They both reference their occupations as their passions and life’s purpose constantly, but also seem to think that these talents in specialized areas give them free range access and mastery in all other skill sets. The bottom line is, you only really need to pass them on the street, much less hear them speak, to know that they consider themselves the living embodiment of PERFORMANCE ARTIST and REAL ESTATE MOGUL.

Kanye: One of the problems with being a bubbling source of creativity – it’s like I’m bubbling in a laboratory, and if you don’t put a cap on it, at one point it will, like, break the glass. If I can hone that… then I have, like, nuclear power, like a superhero, like Cyclops when he puts his glasses on.’
“It’s only led me to complete awesomeness at all times. It’s only led me to awesome truth and awesomeness. Beauty, truth, awesomeness. That’s all it is.”

Drumpf: “I’m a builder by nature.”

“I’m passionate about real estate, and that’s what works for me.”

Both have a moderate degree of paranoia

Both Drumpf and Kanye can come off a bit as conspiracy theorists. This gets at some of their fear base and fear mongering, as well as plays into their belief that they are experts on all and therefore can make declarations debunking science.

Kanye: “[AIDS is] a man-made disease. [It was] placed in Africa just like crack was placed in the black community to break up the Black Panthers.”

Drumpf: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

“A certificate of live birth is not the same thing by any stretch of the imagination as a birth certificate.”

“No more massive injections. Tiny children are not horses—one vaccine at a time, over time.”

They are both obsessed with their wives’ attractiveness

Both men have married attractive women and seem to place a high value on a woman’s appearance. Whether this his brutish objectification or worshipful praise is in the eye of the beholder.

Kanye: “Y’all are acting like this ain’t the most beautiful woman of all time. Wait a second, wait a second – I’m talking about arguably of human existence. The top 10 of human existence… I don’t give a f*ck what type of jacket she got on.”

Drumpf: “I think the only difference between me and the other candidates is that I’m more honest and my women are more beautiful.”
“You know, it really doesn’t matter what the media writes as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.” 

Some may wonder how the heck we got to a point where celebrities throwing their hats into not just the political but the presidential arena has become acceptable and not just satire. I think it has to do with the fact that we are a society which is increasingly easily bored, and with Fox News and Comedy Central providing their hyperbolic commentary we have become, in some ways numb, to the sources of our information.

“To make a true impression one needs to appeal to the masses sense of impropriety.”
And with the constant stream of information our attention span requires big, bold, and bite size morsels of information to capture our consideration and make a big enough impression to store itself somewhere in our more accessible parts of our memory, or the increasingly common consciousness. Memory itself is becoming obsolete as we operate as a collective hive of knowledge, and this influences our taste for politics among other things. To make a true impression one needs to appeal to the masses sense of impropriety. In this sense, the likes of Kanye or Drumpf running our country forecasts a potential revolution in the political climate where boundaries are increasingly blurred. Globalization has impacted the way we form our identities with relations to what were formerly considered hard and fast roles, including gender, sexuality, and race; not to mention professions. We increasingly want to “do it all” in our ever lengthening lifespans. Who’s to say that little boy can’t be a fireman, a youtube star, a ballerina, a politician, a slacker, or even a little girl if he wants to? Kanye and Drumpf certainly want it all, and in some ways reflect polarizing sides of the ego hungry celebrity; perhaps setting the scene for a new dichotomization of the political party system: Kanyocracy and Trumpetarian. Or if they formed some sort of superpower mutant-hybrid alliance and were on the same ticket, forming their own party. The Tru-Ye Party? After all, I think few would argue with our political system’s need for a shakeup in the party system.

Unfortunately, the likes of Kanye and Drumpf in a political debate would seem less like parody but more like a reality TV show. And would such an election really even be that demoralizing? When you think about it, there really aren’t that many things that differentiate celebrities from politicians. Take a look at our political landscape now—just a bunch of candidates with huge ego needs, bordering on narcissism, who seem better at tearing each other apart than communicating directly with the average American.

Want more from Rachel? Check out some of her other articles!
A Psychologist’s Perspective on Kanye West
A Psychologist’s Perspective on the Kardashians: All About Kim K
Why We Love and Love to Hate the Kardashians
 Also be sure to check out:
Does Kanye West Need Psychological Help?

About the author

Dr. Rachel Kitson

Dr. Rachel Kitson

Rachel enjoys blogging about pop-culture through a psychological lens. Topics of interest include celebrity culture, disturbing trends, social media, and other existential predicaments. She has been interviewed by Vice, Refinery 29, Expert Beacon, and contributed to Politini and Entertainment Shrinkly podcasts.

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