Kanye and Bob

Kanye West at the 2009 Tribeca Film FestivalYou may consider it a stretch, but I have been examining the similarities between Kanye West and the great Bob Marley. I’m not comparing their music and frankly, I know very little about either man’s worldview to make any real comparisons there.

I am thinking about what Kanye said about slavery and I’m comparing it to what Bob said about slavery.

I am not about to defend Kanye West. I am not a fan, though Gold Digger is entertaining. I am, however, willing to put out there that Kanye is being attacked because he had the testicular fortitude to wander off the plantation. He has been attacked. His mental health has been questioned. He has been digitally lynched. This is not the first time Kanye said something controversial. (“George Bush hates black people.” Really?) He’s been acting out for a long time. No one minded until he went against the narrative. He dared to say that people need to take responsibility for their lives. He likened the minority devotion to the American Left to a slavery one chooses. Is he really wrong?

West is know for making controversial statements that lack ideological clarity.
One of my favorite songs is “Redemption Song,” by the great Bob Marley. One line from the song has always stuck with me:

“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our mind.”

Is this not the same thing as what Kanye has essentially said? Did Bob not advise people to do exactly what Kanye is advocating? Did he not liken the blind allegiance of minorities to certain political philosophies to slavery? A slavery that uses mental chains and not metal ones? Why are we now offended when someone says the same thing in a drastically less artful way?

Could it be that the American left is concerned that their grip on their most important constituency may be getting away from them?

In the 2016 presidential election, there were 16 or more candidates on the republican side, and while most of those were the standard white men, there was a black surgeon and two Cuban-American senators. There was a woman and a former governor who is married to a Mexican woman and speaks better Spanish than the aforementioned senators. The left had two white guys and a one white woman. The left’s narrative of identity politics is both false and insubstantial.

There is an enormous shift happening in American electoral politics. The right is suffering through its identity crisis and would probably be in the minority if not for the fact that the left is just as incompetent. Both parties have become so extremely partisan that they’re alienating moderates. We need more free thinking to escape this partisan party trap.

Each side is looking for an advantage no matter how ridiculously small it may be. So when the guy known for making controversial statements makes a controversial statement, both sides look to capitalize. The right is now Kanye’s fan base, and maybe his shows will now look like an Eagles Reunion Concert. The left is reminding minorities that they are lost without the big benevolent government to keep them sheltered and fed – proving Kanye’s point. They call him mental ill because he had the gall to tell people they can think for themselves. He told them they can be free.

He told them the truth and the truth has somehow only tightened the chains.

The mentality that feeds this visceral reaction is the two-party framework. American voters have been led to believe this binary system, this heaven and hell, is all there is. As a libertarian, this offends me, not because I want a piece of the limelight, but because I know what is possible. The Libertarian Party can prove Kanye right and wrong. The Libertarian Party can disrupt the two-party system. We can follow Bob’s challenge to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery.

by Adolfo Jiménez – Vice Chairman, Libertarian Party of Broward County