Kanye West capped off a long, particularly Westian speech at the VMAs with the announcement that in 2020, he's running for president. Naturally, Terraform set out to tap some of the best writers on the Kanye beat to imagine a West Administration circa 2021. Here are five visions of America under President Yeezus.
The President takes a seat at the head of a long conference table. Kendrick Lamar sits at the other end. The President holds out his hand, and a member of Secret Services steps forward, and places a Snickers in his outstretched palm. "You're the guy with all the money," he says down the table.
"I am now. Secretary of the Treasury," Lamar says. "But why it's me, I don't get it."
"We need to give money to people who need it," says The President. He examines the Snickers and finds the wrapper unbroken; he holds it out again to the Secret Service agent, who splits it open.
"I totally agree."
"Fuck you say," the President says. "Take all my money. I'll get more of it."
"There are still poor people, people on welfare, people who are homeless, people held down by social constructs. They need our help."
"Where should we get it?" Lamar asks.
"We'll get it from the rich people," The President says.
"Well, the rich people don't want to just give us their money. Would you want to to give your money, Mr. President?"
"Fuck you say," the President says. "Take all my money. I'll get more of it. So will they. We seem to be pretty fucking good at it don't you think?"
"Good point. Taxes?"
"Perfect." The President finishes his Snickers, crumples the wrapper. "Why did that take everyone else so long?"
The President gets up, turns and strides down the long hallway leading out the conference room. As he walks, he booms, "I told you to get rid of these old ass paintings, this is some retrograde shit! And this carpet, I said yesterday, -BLACK- -SUEDE- -RUNNER-, what's taking so long? You, your shoes—take them off, and come back tomorrow with something better. Fuck an Allen Edmond, goddamn." Aides grab the frames off the walls and sprint away.
-Casey Johnston. Johnston is editor at the Sweethome. Her work has appeared in Wired, the Awl, Ars Technica, and here at Motherboard.
"Sir, your pocket's buzzing." Kanye didn't need Jeremy, the Secret Service agent assigned to his detail this afternoon, to tell him that his pocket was buzzing—but as he had learned in the two-something years of his first (hopefully, he thought to himself as he did every day, only) presidential term, Secret Service agents were as useless as they were utterly essential. "Sir—" "I know, Jeremy, I know." Without even looking, Kanye knew who was making the phone call to his iPhone 8zQ without even looking at its recyclable-plastic touchscreen: it was James, who, in simpler times, Kanye affectionately referred to as Cudi.
James had called him every day since the accident—specifically, the private plane crash in the Rockies a year and a half ago that took the lives of his wife, Kim, and the rest of her family save for the two children she and Kanye conceived together—to see if he would talk. Kanye wouldn't talk though. Kanye won't talk, he thought to himself; the irony wasn't lost on him. He sighed deeply, and put his phone on silent.
When the 2020 election finally arrived, the people elected Kanye as a write-in with 97% of the popular vote.
"We're about thirty minutes from the airport, Mr. President." Another trip to China. When would this job end? Kanye knew the answer wasn't readily available, and he wished it was. How many times had he thought back to that night on stage in the fall of 2015—when, as a simple diversion from getting out of performing a medley of hits to cover up for the fact that he'd recently scrapped all work on the never-to-be-released SWISH (What a stupid title, he thought), he unleashed a brilliant ramble of a speech inspired by the lit end of a blunt and capped off with the proclamation that he'd run for president in 2020.
As it turns out, he didn't have to run: after President Hilary Clinton's 2017 impeachment for attempted murder resulted in a life sentence, the country spent several years under the reign of her VP, Donald Trump (Why did Hilary even make Trump her VP?, Kanye thought to himself, a buoy of inquisitiveness briefly bobbing above the melancholy sea raging in his mind) spent the remainder of his term attempting to physically secede the land mass that is the United States from the rest of North America by placing depth charges along its border.
When the 2020 election finally arrived, the people elected Kanye as a write-in with 97% of the popular vote. Until he received the phone call from Trump himself—the call in which Trump and his running mate, Josh Duggar, conceded the Presidential race that Kanye never officially took part in—he'd forgotten about his initial proclamation completely, having been too busy licking his wounds following mixed critical reception of his final record to date, 2019's psychedelic R&B blowout Strings of My Soul.
"Mr. President, Biden wanted me to give you this." Of course Kanye made Biden his VP—why not? He seemed like a good guy and a smart politician, and in the intense period of grieving that had been the last year and a half, he'd been a true friend, too. Sometimes, though, Biden's suggestions were…unorthodox. Kanye unfolded the piece of paper (How archaic!, he thought with an invisible grin, classic Joseph) which read in hand-scrawled chicken scratch: "You should pardon the 'What are those?' guy." "Jeremy," Kanye called the agent to attention. "Who is the 'What are those?' guy?" "Mr. President, do you remember Vine?" Jeremy asked, politely. Kanye tried to, but he didn't. "Yeah, sure—let's arrange a pardon for him when we get back," he said to no one in particular. He didn't know what he was even incarcerated for; it didn't matter.
President Kanye West's approval rating currently stood where it'd been since he first took office: 100%. Ridiculous, Kanye thought at the time, and it seemed no less ridiculous now. The first three years of his term had been—if he were being crass, maybe how he would have characterized it to his wife, if she were still alive—a shitshow. There had been several economic downturns, an assassination attempt from Mr. Trump during the inauguration, and a Republican-led House and Senate who tried, unsuccessfully but constantly, to pass impeachment measures based on "impure thinking and past crimes of impoliteness." On top of all of that, the massive sinkhole had opened up in North Dakota in 2021—which had since grown to the length of the entire state, which had taken thousands of lives already—had, as of this morning, officially expanded into neighboring states and threatened to cover the whole of the Midwest lengthwise a year from now.
None of this was his fault—the economic downturns a result of Trump's mere existence—and so his approval rating stayed at 100%. The DNC had already awarded him the nomination, despite his protestations against a second term, in summer of 2022; the election was nine months away, and he was running unopposed from all parties. (Rand Paul's robot son built in the image of Ayn Rand herself, Pinchfeather, briefly attempted to run for the RNC—but a spate of racial slurs directed Kanye's way during a speech was attributed to a "circuit board malfunction" and Pinchfeather was swiftly removed from the race.)
There was nothing Kanye wanted less, at this point, than to continue becoming President. It wasn't that he was bad at it—he was decent, as decent as you could be in an office that had been governed by crooks and murderers throughout history—but he missed his privacy. He missed his family—even Caitlin's son Brody, who he'd never liked along with the rest of America. He missed being Normal Kanye, which still wasn't a "normal" existence by anyone's definition of the word but was at least something he was used to.
"Airport's just a few minutes away, Mr. President," Jeremy informed Kanye in a flawless monotone. He must think I'm restless, or bored, Kanye thought to himself. There's no one around to understand me anymore. He reached over and rolled down the window dividing the front seat from the back. "Could you turn the radio on?" he asked the driver, who promptly complied.
The first station that the dial was turned to burst with color—immediately recognizable color, a bombastic crash of drums and synth. It was Kanye's own music—the radio stations played his music constantly now, it was pretty much all they played, especially after the Great California Earthquake of 2021 that took the lives of a sizable portion of the music industry, as well as the state at large—and typically he avoided hearing his own music these days. Too much pain attached. As T-Pain's voice on "Good Life" soared like a freed dove, Kanye looked out the window and sighed, somewhat pleasantly. The landscape coating the freeway sped by, and for a moment or two, he felt peace.
-Larry Fitzmaurice. Larry is the executive editor of Live Nation TV. As the former reviews editor at Pitchfork, he named Yeezus his favorite album of the first half of this decade.
President West was very happy to have won the election. DONDA had just finished the remodeling blueprints for the White House in a stunning coffee table book and he was ready to settle in. "If I gotta live here for four years I gotta be comfortable. I can't just live in a house some cornballs designed." He had also requested a new Presidential pen.
"You know white people." he whispered to himself, "Wallpaper look like boy band costumes."
Sure, it seemed trivial to everyone but those pens were constantly being photographed and given away and Kanye never believed in shoddy merch. He sent back an email with his thoughts on glow-in-the-dark ink and prepared for the committee meeting. Kim wanted to attend but North had just got a new hover board and was insisting on making her little brother feel like he could fly while holding him above her head. He would let her take over production but he had to rally against these dreadful colored Rooms. If it was a White House why the pea green room? Couldn't they have found a better shade of green? "You know white people." he whispered to himself, "Wallpaper look like boy band costumes."
Kanye's advisors walked in unsurprised to see him. They'd been briefed that he would be a very hands-on POTUS. Normally the First Lady took over the decor but Kim had already made her first request of selfie mirrors in every room—a "joke" from the campaign, in the sense that everyone thought it was a joke until she ordered 132 mirrors election night. "OK everyone if you'd each take a packet we can get this shit crackin'."
"Mr. President where would you like to begin?"
President Kanye had considerd giving a speech about themes but for once he was a little speeched out. This job involved more talking than he'd ever encountered.
"Honestly? Credenzas. I know there's a bunch of rules but fuck rules! Most of this furniture is corny and really what's the point of having a special house for me if the design can't evolve. I may be the President but I'm still an art student. I could Frank Gehry this shit today…" President Kanye cut himself off. "I apologize I'm getting ahead of myself. I just don't want World Leaders like Putin coming up in here and thinking I have poor taste. Presentation matters!"
"Sir, Putin hasn't visited the White House in over five years."
President Kanye responds flatly without hesitation "Oh I'll get him here. You guys just make sure he's not sitting in some 17th century bullshit. We can talk foreign policy but he can't tell me nothin about my damn interior design! Now where were we? Oh yes…this green room is trash."
-Judnick Mayard. Mayard is a freelance writer in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the Guardian, Gawker, the Daily Beast, and elsewhere.
WASHINGTON, July 21, 2021 — White House Creative Director Rick Rubin said on Wednesday that President Kanye West's Donda Project would be going forward despite objections from Senator Donald Trump (Ind-Fla.), who has been a vociferous foe of the ambitious public works plan since West unveiled it at the 2019 Made In America Festival.
The runner-up in the 2020 Presidential contest called West a "loser" during a tirade about the program that aired on his Periscope account
The runner-up in the 2020 Presidential contest called West a "loser" during a tirade about the program that aired on his Periscope account Monday this week and vowed to "run [the Donda Project] into the ground." West, late Tuesday, released the self-produced "Trumped," a nine-minute instrumental based around samples of Trump's lengthy concession speech and his former "Celebrity Apprentice" catchphrase "You're fired," through First Lady Kim Kardashian-West's Instagram account.
"Kanye speaks from the heart, and through his music," said Rubin. "With the Donda Project, millions of Americans will be empowered to use their minds in similar ways."
Trump had not responded to West's salvo at press time.
The Donda Project was crucial to West's successful 2020 Presidential run, which he announced at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards. A reimagining of the Works Progress Administration's Federal Project Number One, and named after West's late mother, the Donda Project is an attempt to employ artists, musicians, actors, and writers from across the country to establish arts organizations and build state-of-the-art performance spaces in blighted communities.
West has appointed Rubin; Donnie Smith, former executive director of West's Chicago nonprofit Donda's House; Keith "Chief Keef" Cozart, who unsuccessfully ran for mayor in Chicago in 2019; and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter as public ambassadors for the program until funding is secured.
Enthusiasm for the Donda Project has grown as the federal unemployment rate has swelled to 15.3%, particularly among the younger demographic that pushed West to victory.
But Congress, which has been plagued by gridlock in the run-up to the 2022 midterms, has stalled on passing budget resolutions that would kickstart the project, and other big names in American politics have pointed at the previous work of Knowles-Carter and Cozart as reasons to shut it down entirely.
"The lack of regard for life shown in Chief Keef's lyrics should prevent him from ever working with the American government," Tipper Gore, executive director of the relaunched Parents Music Resource Coalition, said in a statement released Tuesday. "We shouldn't have to show the American people a warning label before introducing government staffers who rose to prominence because of inappropriate lyrics and imagery."
Cozart did not comment, but the White House seemingly responded to Gore's statement via its official Periscope account. On Wednesday, its focus lingered on an image of his stark 2020 campaign poster that had been covered almost completely by a sticker that resembled the PMRC's "Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics" badge, only with text reading "No Child Left Behind."
-Maura K. Johnston. Johnston is a writer, editor and music critic. She's the founder of Maura Magazine.
In one of his boldest policy moves since his inauguration, President West has moved forward with his plan to ban the wearing of socks and sandals for all federal employees in the District of Columbia. The administration has shown no sign of backing down despite multiple threats from House Republicans to shut down the government over this new controversial rule. If approved by both chambers of congress, the law would come into effect immediately forcing all politicians everywhere to up their shoe game.
"I refuse to let this administration turn our country into a fashion police state"
Critics of the President's "stop socks-n-sandals task-force" have been vocal about their intention to do anything in their power to block the administration's plan. Rand Paul, who has been spotted, according to multiple DC staffers, sporting what appears to be "sock-like fabric" and "open-toe crocs" is leading the opposition to West's initiative. "I refuse to let this administration turn our country into a fashion police state," he told reporters outside the Capitol. "This country was built on freedom and President West can't keep imposing his radical views about footwear on hard-working Americans."
Others worry the President's proposition is a slippery slope. On Fox and Friends, when asked to comment on the proposed bill, Ted Cruz told Steve Doocey, "This is another example of the Washington elite telling us what to do. I don't want big government dictating what I can or cannot wear with socks. It's downright unconstitutional. He vowed to filibuster the law wearing flip-flops and ankle socks.
According to White House Communications director Daniel Pfeiffer, the President hoped both chambers of congress could come to a bipartisan agreement on the issue. In a heated press conference this afternoon, when pressed about whether this was government overreach, President West simply pointed to a reporter's last season knock-off birkenstocks and simply said "why" followed by "bro."
No official word yet on the President's stance on guys coming back from vacation with ill-fitting Che Guevara t-shirts and the growing presence of baggy cargo pants on college campuses, but given the administration's unusually rigorous commitment to bettering men's fashion decisions so far this year, a vote on those issues could be expected as early as November.
-Elizabeth Plank. Plank is the senior editor of Mic News.