I may be the only person in America who didn’t know who Kanye West was when he announced he would be running for President in 2020. I had to look him up. As it turns out, he is an entertainer. The Guardian newspaper describes him as a “rap superstar. ”
That explains why I’ve never heard of the guy. I don’t listen to rap music – not on purpose, anyway.
But a lot of people do. So many that Kanye West is reportedly worth more than $130 million.
The notion of a rap superstar as leader of the free world seems bizarre to me. But I am obviously out of the loop. If Ronald Reagan of “Bedtime for Bonzo” could be president, why not a rapper named Kanye West? If Donald Trump can lead in the Republican primary polls, just about any celebrity is a viable candidate for the highest office in the land.
This is America after all. And in America, life’s a cabaret.
Many more people watch the Kardashians than Downton Abbey. American Idol enthralls millions of viewers while 24-hour news channels scramble to attract a few thousand.
In this society, any of the myriad celebrities who populate our TV screens – and, increasingly, social media – could get elected to public office in a heartbeat.
Does this mean the American public is shallow and dumb?
Or are “we the people” smart enough to see through the political charade? Have we figured out that the politics game is just a reality show?
Candidates can promise to give us the moon when they become president but it’s Congress that makes federal laws. And Congress is a mess.
Then there are the state legislatures to contend with. Not to mention the civil servants who actually get things done.
The BBC used to air a program called “Yes Minister,” which hillariously revealed how civil servants manipulate elected officials. But that’s only half the story.
In America, there are lobbyists, representing various special interests. They often pull the strings while elected officials dance obediently like so many puppets. I understand that lobbyists actually write a lot of the legislation for the elected officials. Apparently, it’s the lobbyists who churn out those endless pages of arcane gobbledygook, and it’s the civil servants who “interpret” them.
Increasingly, politicians are actors and actresses, making speeches and raising campaign money while the lobbyists, legislative aides and civil servants do the grunt work that keeps the government running. Often, the elected representatives haven’t even read the legislation they’re voting on.
And I’m sure you’ve read or heard about civil servants who are treated to lavish parties and plied with sex, drugs and alcohol by those deep-pocketed lobbyists. Remember that scandal involving employees of the Minerals Management Service?
So why not Kanye West for President? Or Caitlin Jenner? Or… You fill in the blank …