John Legend issued a sober warning about electing inexperienced people to higher office on Monday (July 13) in a series of tweets in which he reminded anyone considering a third-party run to seriously think about the implications of their actions during these challenging times. In his most dire red flag, Legend wrote of running in the midst of an out-of-control pandemic and a turbulent domestic economy, “This is not merely an intellectual exercise. It’s life and death.”
Legend, who has been politically active for years and who performed at a virtual fundraiser for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden last month, did not point to any candidate by name, but his tweet spree came a week after his friend Kanye West launched a purported third-party bid for the White House, and just hours after Chance the Rapper appeared to back West’s bid while questioning why people are supporting former Vice President Biden’s attempt to unseat Pres. Trump.
“Reporters always ask me if more artists should speak out about politics. I always say ummmmmm not necessarily,” Legend said, taking some of the wind out of his own sails as he seemingly opined about West’s quixotic political aspirations; to date West does not appear to have taken any concrete actions to register with the Federal Election Commission and has missed a number of deadlines to get on the ballot in several key states. A spokesperson for West has not returned repeated requests from Billboard seeking details about West’s alleged presidential aspirations.
“And the real world implications of electing (or reelecting) someone who doesn’t know how to run the government are particularly urgent and impactful in the middle of a pandemic that’s been so much more deadly due to an incompetent President,” West wrote, again not naming names, but making what appears to be a clear reference to real estate reality star Trump, who entered office with no political experience and whose confusing, politically charged response to the pandemic has coincided with the United States landing at the top of the list of countries with the most cases and deaths to date.
Legend goes on to say that part of an artist’s job is to “imagine a different future,” and while he said he appreciates the desire to break from the traditional two-party system in America, “you can’t divorce the conversation from the real world implications of rooting for a futile 3rd party bid.” After West’s recent interview with Forbes, in which the rapper with no political experience — and who has never before voted — discussed his anti-vaccine stance and his desire to “reinstate” prayer in schools while offering up no concrete political policy points other than wanting to model his putative administration on the fictional Black utopia of Wakanda from the Black Panther movie, Legend urged anyone considering a serious run for office to at least do their homework.
“Read about it. Talk to activists and organizers and people impacted,” wrote Legend, who has used his musical bully pulpit to advocate over the years for the environment, HIV/AIDS awareness, education, prison reform, health care, criminal justice reform and several other causes. “Be open to evolution and changing your mind. Be intentional and strategic. And think about the impact of your words on the real lives of real people.”
Fully aware that sometimes it’s just as important to shut up and sing, Legend added, “It ain’t for everybody. If you’re more comfortable just making bops, do that. We need that in our lives too!”
See Legend’s tweets below.
Singer/songwriter Sara Bareilles tweeted that she’s definitely on Team Legend.