Saturday, December 02, 2023


Joe Biden and Donald Trump probably won't be the only high-profile candidates on presidential ballots in 2024 -- No Labels wants to run a candidate, Robert Kennedy Jr. will probably have the money to get himself on all or most ballots, and there'll be candidates from the Green and Libertarian parties. Pollsters have begun testing the impact of a multi-candidate race on the outcome, and they generally coclude that the minor-party candidates will take more votes away from Biden than from Trump.

One reason is that most of these pollsters are asking respondents about a field that includes Cornel West, who announced his presidential candidacy last June. He'd be unlikely to take votes away from Trump, though he'd surely take quite a few from Biden.

But don't worry, because Cornel West probably won't be on your state ballot. He's too much of a fuck-up.

A Forbes article published yesterday (paywalled, but you can read it here, though unfortunately without links) makes this clear:
Cornel West has been a fixture of American society for more than three decades, publishing books, teaching at Ivy League institutions, commenting on cable news, collaborating on music with Prince—even popping up in sequels to the Matrix. Ubiquity provided liquidity, with West earning an estimated $15 million or so over the last 30 years. But oddly, as he mounts an independent run for president, his net worth resembles that of a first-year adjunct professor. “I live paycheck to paycheck,” says West....

West burst onto the national scene in the 1990s with Race Matters, a compilation of essays that sold more than 500,000 copies. He traveled the country to deliver speeches, hauling in more than $500,000 a year. Much of the money flowed to him with no taxes deducted. West blew it—on many things, especially women—leaving little left for Uncle Sam by the time tax season arrived. The liens piled up: $144,000 in 1998, $105,000 in 2000, $205,000 in 2001 and so on....

West, now on his fifth wife, says he’s earning about $115,000 a year today at Union Theological Seminary, which also provides him with free housing. Delivering speeches and teaching on Masterclass helped boost his income to about $500,000 in 2022, he thinks. Still, he says paying off old debt eats up most of his income: “Things are always so tight for me.”

His latest act of financial recklessness: Running for president. West is on sabbatical from Union Theological Seminary now, which allows him to continue collecting a paycheck. But the sabbatical will end next year, likely before his campaign does, so West expects to have to transition to an unpaid leave of absence.

All told, West’s current net worth appears to be close to zero. He has about $225,000 of equity in his home in Princeton, New Jersey, which he co-owns with the university. And his retirement savings fund is worth $280,000. That equity outweighs his $465,000 in outstanding tax liens, but only by $40,000, leaving West little breathing room if other debts pop up.
Robert Kennedy Jr. is a lunatic, but he has a household net worth of $15 million, in addition to many rich friends and supporters, particularly in the tech industry and Hollywood. (He also has quite a few Republican backers.) RFK Jr. raised $8.7 million in the third quarter, and a Kennedy-affiliated super PAC raised $11.3 million in the days following his announcement that he intended to run for president as an independent. Forbes tells us that West raised only $250,000 in the third quarter.

West abandoned two political parties in the four months following the announcement of his candidacy -- first the People's Party, which he left after eleven days, then the Green Party. He now needs to get himself onto state ballots, with little money, no party infrastructure, and not much infrastructure of his own. NBC reports:
West has only about 10 staffers (his wife helps handle media requests). He has conducted no internal polling. He has held only one public campaign rally. His bank balance is two digits shorter than those of his rivals — he's raised hundreds of thousands so far while others have brought in tens of millions. And he’s sworn off outside help from a super PAC which could have helped make up the difference.
So we're looking at Kanye West 2.0. Ye's 2020 presidential campaign qualified for ballot access in only 12 states, none of them swing states, and he received 67,906 votes, or 0.04% of the vote.

Ye was a billionaire at the time. Cornel West ... isn't a billionaire. He might not have mental problems as severe as Ye's, but he's not a careful steward of his own life. Unless he latches on to (or returns to) an actual political party, I predict he'll be a non-factor in 2024. He won't even be Ralph Nader (though Jill Stein next year might be Jill Stein).

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