Kanye's 2020 campaign can't bring about transformative change—it can only help Donald Trump get reelected.
Before you came along, the career you've had would have been impossible to imagine.
There was no model for the kind of independent artist you set out to be. You stood up to record labels that wanted to throw money at you to give up your independence. You gave up nothing and continued to succeed.
Recording Acid Rap at 19 was an insane achievement. You followed it up with Coloring Book at a time when a streaming-only album had never won a Grammy. It won three. You've credited God for your success. Maybe you're right, but my own preference is to credit your optimism, your immense talent, and your unshakeable will.
You stand up for what you believe, and you're not in the habit of letting long-shot odds deter you. I'm going to let that attitude inspire me while I try to convince you to stop supporting Kanye 2020. I know I probably can't do it, but I feel like I have to try.
Are we pro two-party system?— Chance The Rapper (@Chance The Rapper) 1594647544.0
What We Agree On
I'm going to start where we agree. America's two-party system needs to be dismantled. It's an awful, corporatist sham of democracy whereby citizens' rights to exert influence over the system that rules them is reduced to a false binary.
Even when one option is obviously better than the other, the powers that be have ways of making sure that neither of them is really a threat to the system that keeps them in power. In Chicago—as you pointed out in 2018—that has led to decades of complacent Democrats "with no investment or regard for black schools, neighborhoods, or black lives."
Joe Biden absolutely fits into that mold. His record on criminal justice, school bussing and so many other issues make him unappealing regardless of what he says in 2020—and it turns out that what he says in 2020 is far from great.
I recently compared Joe Biden to a slice of stale white bread, and I stand by that. I won't try to convince Chance the Rapper or anyone else to start getting excited for that bland, outdated flavor, but we need to stay focused and excited about the prospect of spitting out the poison we have in our mouths right now.
The Poison Is Donald Trump
Donald Trump has done irreparable damage to our country. You said yourself—after rejecting his thanks for sticking up for Kanye—that Trump has "made a career out of hatred, racism and discrimination." We can't give him another four years to ply that trade in the oval office. We can't afford it.
If that's not clear from nearly 140,000 disproportionately Black Americans dying as a result of a pandemic that Donald Trump continues to downplay and mismanage, then let's ignore what's going on now and look back at the last three years.
We can look at how he's championed massive tax breaks for the wealthy while pushing for cuts to essential programs like SNAP, public housing, Medicaid, and health care subsidies. We can look at the men he's put on the Supreme Court—effectively killing the chances of pushing back against racist voter suppression made possible by the gutting of the Voting Rights Act—and at the liberal justices he will likely get the chance to replace in the next four years...
Right now the polls make Trump's chances of winning in November look slim—just like they looked in 2016. But there is a giant, well-funded machine that will be kicking into gear for him in these next few months, and before long this race is going to be tight and Joe Biden—the disappointing, past-his-prime candidate that he is—is going to need all the help he can get to squeak out a victory.
You say that you hope whoever wins in 2020 will "abolish the prison system as we know it, honor black reparations and all treaties with Indigenous folk and lastly end homelessness." That would be nice, just like it would be nice to dismantle the two party system. But neither of us has that power and neither does Kanye—not in time for November.
Ok this is me slowly trying to get down from this hill without falling and dying: Whoever you vote for I hope they… https://t.co/k7m8im0Kkd— Chance The Rapper (@Chance The Rapper) 1594669330.0
Two Bad Options... Again
We are left with two bad options. And while maybe Joe Biden can be bullied into doing the right thing on some of those issues, we know that Donald Trump will add active harm to Black, Indigenous, and homeless Americans if he gets the chance… and we know that Kanye— whatever his intentions or policy positions—cannot win.
I get that people are too quick to treat Kanye as a joke—and I know I've been guilty of that too. Your loyalty to your friend and mentor—even when it means catching some of the backlash aimed at him—is admirable. But when you ask for an explanation of "why Joe Biden would be better [than Kanye]." it's like asking why floss is better than ice cream that cleans your mouth—as much as flossing sucks, it's an actual option that exists in the world.
Kanye—even if he had great policies and would be an amazing leader (big ifs)—cannot win the presidency in 2020. With all his money and all his talent, he still doesn't have the power to reach that position this cycle in order to fix things.
But as with any complex system—especially a broken one like American democracy—it's far easier to make things worse than it is to make things better. All Kanye can accomplish at this point—and all your support can help him do—is to siphon enough votes from Joe Biden in key states to tip a tight race in favor of Donald Trump.
Are u more pro biden or anti ye and why? I get that you’ll want to reply that you’re just tryna “get trump out” but… https://t.co/zif2ea3msg— Chance The Rapper (@Chance The Rapper) 1594648513.0
And judging by the way that—even after he ditched the MAGA hat—Kanye still has kinder words for Trump than he does for Biden… it's hard not to wonder if tipping the election toward Trump isn't Kanye's actual goal. You supported his right to be on team Trump, but what makes you think he's actually switched sides?
Biden is the option, and that sucks. If I had the choice I would prefer Bernie Sanders (or Michelle Obama, or Elizabeth Warren, or Chance the Rapper). But if Briahna Joy Gray can give up on Bernie 2020 and throw her grudging support behind Joe Biden, then you can give up on Kanye 2020—and encourage Kanye to give it up too (though it's possible he already has, in which case this letter is completely redundant...).
What Kanye Could Do Instead
If Kanye wants to push for a position in Biden's cabinet, cool. You did great work with Obama. Maybe, given his work on YZY shelters, Kanye can get involved in a federal fight to end homelessness. Or if he would rather spearhead a push to impeach Biden as soon as he's in office, that's cool too—I certainly won't miss him if he gets removed.
And if Kanye immediately starts campaigning for 2024 and making the Birthday Party into a real political force—something that could start the work of dismantling the two-party system—that would be something to celebrate (especially if he drops the anti-vax stuff and fully renounces Trump).
@chancetherapper We need to think strategically about how to get better options next time. I wrote this a couple… https://t.co/liHhSbzeaU— 💀🎃Briahna Joy Co-pay 🕸👻 (@💀🎃Briahna Joy Co-pay 🕸👻) 1594651055.0
The one thing that Kanye cannot get support on is getting involved in the 2020 election. Because we cannot miss this opportunity to spit that Trump poison out of our mouths. And you don't want your friend and mentor to end up shouldering the blame if we do.
Even if you actually end up reading this, I doubt it will change your mind. You don't let long-shot odds deter you, and Kanye is family. Some random white guy on the Internet probably isn't going to convince you to stop supporting his dreams.
But as slim a chance as I have of changing your mind—and getting you to work on changing Kanye's—it's still a chance. Kanye 2020, on the other hand, only has the chance to help Donald Trump win. And we can't afford that.