NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C.—He jumped on stage wearing a bullet-proof vest, and with “2020” etched in his purple hair: Kanye Omari West’s first campaign rally as the third hopeful for president.
West’s first rally took place on Sunday, much like his church services. Like Donald Trump, he rambled about being a billionaire, and how Democrats are corrupt. He made promises he could never keep, like a pro-life “policy” — guaranteeing expecting women “a million dollars” if they choose against abortion. And, like Trump, he sparred with critics in the crowd and had one escorted out by security.
While Ye spoke for God there—describing himself as “Moses” and proclaiming that Jesus had called him “the Chosen One”—I don’t want to speak for God, but I have a gut-feeling that He was not pleased. I’d figured this rally would be outrageous, but I did not foresee a troubling hour capturing a man’s brokenness, emotionally fragmented by his late mother’s death.
The crowd, where the majority of the 100 or so appeared to be in their early twenties, was there for a show, buzzing when he made a cheeky reference to his famous “Imma you finish” line aimed at Taylor Swift at one confrontational audience member, and chuckling at his finger-wag about TikTok controlling young minds.
The rally, held at a convention center inside a dimmed room usually reserved for Charleston weddings, was an informal one—where participants could hold up their hand or just approach center-stage to pose questions or pronounce concerns about the state of America.
That was the one interesting part of the event: Generation Z’s chance at the mic. One young person talked about police reform, another discussed the school-to-prison pipeline, the last divulged a personal story about aborting her child due to her nine-dollar-an-hour wage.
That anecdote helped center Kanye’s pro-life plan to replace abortion with a $50,000 per year policy for expecting mothers to “help them raise their child.” It wasn’t well received. Some women booed, and one replied, “Then everyone would have kids!”
Things got much worse from there.
West, who apologized in 2018 after telling TMZ that “slavery was a choice,” slandered Harriet Tubman, declaring that she “never freed any slaves. She just had them work for other white people.”
The audience cringed in silence.
Some of the rally-goers left, with one woman who’d been streaming the rally muttering, “Yo, we’re leaving right now.” She later posted the footage to Twitter with the caption, “Kanye said this, and I left immediately. I went for a laugh, and I got one. But when it got disrespectful for me, it was over.”
West then brought up Claudette Colvin, the 15-year-old teenager who refused to move off a Montgomery bus nine months before Rosa Parks did the same thing. “They [lauded] the second woman, not the first,” he yelled, as if he cracked some code. That’s one fascinating theme about Kanye—when he learns a general fact about America, he swears America doesn’t know. Like when he visited the White House to discuss the 13th Amendment with Trump.
But West was most beside himself (one might call it hysterical), after revealing that his father wanted him aborted. He shouted, “There would be no Kanye West! My momma saved my life!” After taking a short breath, he disclosed another secret: He wanted his wife, Kim Kardashian West, to abort their first child, North. “I almost killed my child,” he repeatedly cried to the crowd as they shouted back, “We love you, Kanye! We love you!”
And here’s when empathy ambushed me.
There is no soft way to put this: Kanye West is in trouble. The media may come after him again, but his most formidable opponent is his own trauma.
His friends, his family, and his wife—y’all need to grab the mic, take him off stage before he is finished.