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COMMENTARY: A brief history of musicians running for president of the United States

Rapper Kanye West speaks during his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 11, 2018.
Rapper Kanye West speaks during his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 11, 2018. SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Every four years, a new crop of people declare their intentions to run for president of the United States. Many are serious about ascending to that high office while others are just plain loopy.

My favourite perennial candidate is Vermine Supreme of Rockport, Mass., who has run as an independent, a Republican, a Democrat, and a Libertarian in a series of elections since 1988.

He’s easy to spot. He’s the guy wearing the large rubber boot on his head and carrying a giant toothbrush. If you’re concerned about proper dental hygiene, someone who will protect you against the zombie apocalypse, and a president who will invest in time travel research, Vermine is your man. And he’s running again in November. Hey, it’s his constitutional right.

A number of musicians have heard a similar calling. Here’s a brief history of those who have aspired to be the leader of the free world.

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Alice Cooper

The Campaign: Alice first announced his attention to run for president in 1972, heralded by his single, Elected. The lyrics promise that his Wild Party acknowledged the problems in U.S. society but ending with the phrase “And personally, I don’t care.” He last made a bid in 2016 with Tom Hanks has his VP with the campaign slogan, “I can do nothing as well as they do nothing” and a succinct platform: “I have absolutely no idea what to do.”

The Result: Some fun press and more play for Elected.

READ MORE: (Aug. 23, 2016) Alice Cooper makes a political ‘bid’ to run for U.S. president

Joe Walsh

The Campaign: Yes, this is the fun lovin’ guitarist for the Eagles, not the conservative talk show host of the same name who actually managed to get elected to congress before crashing out of the 2020 presidential race. Through the ’70s, Eagle Joe often joked about running for president before finally declaring his candidacy in 1980. His platform included cheeseburgers for all, free gas for everyone, and changing the national anthem to his 1978 hit, Life’s Been Good.

The Result: The 1980 campaign was a non-starter because at age 32, Joe was three years too young to run for president under constitutional rules. He tried again to run as vice-president in 1992 with the Rev. Goat Carson under the slogan “We Want Our Money Back.” However, Joe did get serious about public service. He was president of the Santa Cruz Island Foundation, an environmental organization that he’s supported since the ’80s.

Waka Flocka Flame

The Campaign: The Atlanta rapper flirted with a presidential bid in 2016 (announcing on 4/20, of course), although at 28, he was too young. His platform? “Waka Flocka is a product, a franchise, a brand, a label… And a good guy!” Digging a little deeper, he was in favour of legalizing pot, freeing Palestine, and freeing Kurdistan. Oh, and he thought that Canada was mad real.

The Result: Two campaign videos, including this one.

 

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Ozzy Osbourne

The Campaign: Ozzy’s people say he’d like to lead the U.S. in 2020. That’s about it.

The Result: TBA, of course, but since Ozzy isn’t a natural-born U.S. citizen, he’s out before he could get started. Besides, he’s just trolling Kayne (see below). Some good campaign merch, though.

READ MORE: (Jan. 30, 2020) Ozzy Osbourne says he doesn’t think he’ll be around ‘that much longer’

Kanya West

The Campaign: After going all-in with Donald Trump’s MAGA platform (and apparently becoming BFFs), Yeezy started floating the idea of running for president in 2024 after his friend was out of office. But this last week, he apparently had a change of heart and has decided to run as an independent in 2020. Ready for this? Here’s what he told Forbes.

  • Kanye will run under the banner of The Birthday Party. Why? “Because when we win, it’ll be everybody’s birthday!”
  • His VP running mate is Michelle Tidball, an obscure preacher from Wyoming where Kanye has a ranch.
  • Although he’s running against Trump, he still likes him. “Trump is the closest president we’ve had in years to allowing God to still be part of the conversation.”
  • When asked to outline his platform, he indicated that he opposes abortion, saying that Planned Parenthood is run by white supremacists who have successfully implanted locations in America’s big cities “to do the Devil’s work.”
  • His strategy for dealing with COVID-19 is to “pray for Freedom” [sic] and to “stop doing things that make God mad.”
  • He’s against vaccinations, calling them “the mark of The Beast,” emphasizing that “They want to put chips inside us. They want to do all kinds of things to make it where we can’t cross the gates of heaven.”
  • Upon taking office, he will organize the White House based on what he learned about Wakanda from Black Panther.
  • Elon Musk, an alleged early supporter, will be named to head up the U.S. space program.
  • Foreign policy? That’s for later, he says, although he does have some thoughts on China: “When I become president — let me make some promises — the NBA will open all the way back up from Nigeria to Nanchang and the world will see the greatest athletes play. The world will experience the change in their element. The money is gonna come back. I love China. I love China. It’s not China’s fault that disease. It’s not the Chinese people’s fault. They’re God’s people also. I love China. It changed my life. It changed my perspective, it gave me such a wide perspective. My mom as an English professor taught English in China when I was in fifth grade.”
  • Chemicals are bad. “Clean up the chemicals. In our deodorant, in our toothpaste, there are chemicals that affect our ability to be of service to God.”

READ MORE: Kanye West breaks from Trump, science in bid for ‘Wakanda’ presidency

The Result: TBA but it doesn’t look good. Consider:

  • Kanye has no campaign infrastructure of any kind other than support from his wife, Kim Kardashian and Musk. No volunteers, no network of offices, nothing.
  • He’s already missed the filing date in a number of large states. Without those states, he has zero mathematical chance of winning anything.
  • Kanye has never run for anything before. In fact, he’s never voted in his life. Actually, he’s never even been registered to vote.
  • Yet he remains optimistic: “Let’s see if the appointing is at 2020 or if it’s 2024 — because God appoints the president. If I win in 2020 then it was God’s appointment. If I win in 2024 then that was God’s appointment.”
  • Meanwhile, his family is, wondering if he’s going through a serious bipolar episode.

Ain’t American politics great?

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Alan Cross is a broadcaster with Q107 and 102.1 the Edge and a commentator for Global News.

Subscribe to Alan’s Ongoing History of New Music Podcast now on Apple Podcast or Google Play