When rapper Kanye West tweeted “I like the way Candace Owens thinks” earlier this year, Americans on both sides of the aisle took notice. When West later tweeted about his love for President Donald Trump, conservatives became excited. Was one of the most famous rappers in the world really expressing his support for a Republican president who has been reviled by the culture dominated by the left?
For many on the right, it was a dream come true, believing that West’s repudiation of the worst aspects of far leftist ideology was an indication that a black exodus from the Democratic Party was imminent. This belief is understandable, considering that black support for the president has been steadily climbing. However, it is not known how much of this increase can be attributed to West.
After West praised her on Twitter, Candace Owens, the director for Turning Point USA, a conservative advocacy group, jumped on the opportunity to connect with the artist. They later formed a friendship and made multiple appearances together. Now, it appears West’s honeymoon period in the world of politics has come to an end.
Kanye West Splits From #Blexit
Recently, Owens launched a campaign called Blexit, a movement designed to convince black Democrats to leave the left. Similar to the #WalkAway campaign, it gives a platform to blacks who have become fed up with the antics of the Democratic Party. Along with a snazzy new website, the campaign offers apparel featuring the organization’s logo.
Soon after the launch of the campaign, people began associating West with the logo design, and this is what sent the hip-hop artist over the edge. He posted a frustrated tweet which read: “I introduced Candace to the person who made the logo and they didn’t want their name on it so she used mine. I never wanted any association with Blexit. I have nothing to do with it.”
When West sent his tweets, progressives gleefully reported that the rapper was no longer supporting the president. Unfortunately for them, they were wrong. West later called TMZ to say that his post was directed at only Owens, not Trump.
West continued: “My eyes are now wide open and now realize I’ve been used to spread messages I don’t believe in. I am distancing myself from politics and completely focusing on being creative!!!”
Well, that was rather short-lived, wasn’t it? But is West’s frustration justified?
Owens Issues a Problematic Apology
The day after West posted his tweets, Owens issued an apology on her blog. She wrote:
“I never once said that Kanye designed the T-shirts for BLEXIT. This is a lie that seems to have made its way around the world; a lie I would like to again correct for the record. Kanye was completely right to feel used in that regard and as I have done personally, I would like to publicly apologize to him for any undue stress or pain the effort to correct that rumor has caused him, his business relationships, or his family. He simply never designed them.”
The controversy would likely have passed after Owens’ apology, but there was one problem: Her claim that she never said that West designed the T-shirts is inaccurate. At the recent Young Black Leadership Conference, Owens told the audience that: “Blexit is a renaissance and I am blessed to say that this logo, these colors, were created by my dear friend and fellow superhero Kanye West.”
What Should Conservatives Learn From This?
Conservatives’ delight over West’s public support of the president makes sense given the fact that most in the entertainment industry are progressives. Moreover, celebrities who lean to the right are pressured to keep their political opinions hidden. But the situation with Owens and West provides a lesson for those involved in the conservative movement.
When West jumped into the world of politics, his message was one of thinking freely and rejecting victimhood. It was about finding your own way instead of having your opinions foisted upon you. At no point did West claim to be a conservative — although his music is full of right-leaning messages. Even then, it was clear that he is a mixed bag when it comes to his political viewpoints.
If the details given about this story are true, it is understandable that West would feel as if he were being used to promote a particular agenda, and nobody wants to be leveraged as a political tool. One of the most critical lessons that conservatives can learn from this story is that it is essential that they resist the temptation to immediately glom on to a celebrity who dares to speak out against the left.
The GOP has won victories without the help of prominent entertainers.
As most know, publicly leaving the left is a perilous proposition, especially if the person doing it is a minority. For this reason, conservatives need to allow such individuals to articulate their opinions without pushing conservatism on them. West may not have been a right-winger, but he certainly was open to other ideas. Associating him with Blexit without his consent likely made him feel forced into a niche in which he did not fit. The natural reaction is to push back and then pull away.
Would conservatives benefit from more celebrity support? Sure. But they are not necessary for the success of the movement. The GOP has won victories without the help of prominent entertainers. Therefore, if a famous person decides to reject the left, conservatives should avoid turning into political fangirls fawning over their new idol. A better choice would be to allow these individuals to come to their own opinions without foisting conservatism upon them. Besides, nobody likes annoying fans anyway, right?