Debate: Should Wyclef Jean become President of Haiti?

By Jake and Glenn 

There is a very important candidacy in the near future for President and for once it has nothing to do with a Bush, Clinton, Obama, Palin or Gingrich. This time it’s not even for President of the United States! Not only do other countries have elected Presidents, but many others are willing to consider black candidates. Haiti might be the second country ever to elect a black President if Wyclef Jean, the popular musician, is elected this November. But is this what Haiti needs right now?

Jake: My knowledge of Haiti is limited to a recent earthquake, but I know nearly everything about Wyclef Jean. He is a singer/rapper and was a member of the popular 90s group The Fugees. Given my limited knowledge of Haiti-- which I do know is a country-- and my vast knowledge of Wyclef, I can say with little hesitation that he is the right man for the job. His hit song “Gone ‘Til November” was a triumph, just like his presidency will be. His silky smooth voice is exactly what Haiti, and our radio airwaves, needs. Wyclef took part in the tumultuous Woodstock 99 concert, which surely has him ready for anything, even getting raped or a Limp Bizkit performance. It is probably unlikely that he will have to deal with the latter, but there is a likely chance of the former. I’m not sure if he will get to choose a vice president, as I do not know much of Haiti’s political system, but if he does, I hope he will pass over Pras and go straight to the auto-tuned singing/political stylings of Akon.

Glenn: My knowledge of Haiti is vast, and mostly based on the song on Arcade Fire’s Funeral in French that mentions Jean-Claude Duvalier. Although the Arcade Fire do not rap, they are a very famous and successful band not unlike Wyclef himself. This is a perfect debate for Jake and I because we are each experts on one of the subjects. It is just unfortunate that the subjects have connected in such a way, because Wyclef is not the right person for the presidency. There are many reasons why he is not a good fit, but two of the biggest have to do with his celebrity. He gained his fame by leaving Haiti, something that only the worst American celebrities have threatened to do this country. Secondly, as John McCain successfully showed, being popular with large groups of people is a handicap in a race for who gets the most votes. Thank you.

Jake: You are very, very welcome. My only hesitation with Wyclef being the president of Haiti is that it might slow him down from releasing hit after hit. There is no musician, rapper or singer that has the steady stream of classic songs as Wyclef. The man is simply a songwriting machine. He would perhaps be too distracted with Haitian political issues to write another amazing tune. If Wyclef’s songwriting expertise can somehow be translated into his potential presidential duties, then he will without a doubt be the best president of any country to have ever existed, outside of China. While we have no idea whether he will be a great president just based on his songwriting legendry, I think it is worth finding out, especially for Haiti, which I assume is not being run very well by the current president.

Glenn: One of the most traumatic events of my childhood was being part of the Marine Corps operation to invade Haiti in 1994 and reestablish Jean-Bertrand Aristide as President. It haunts me because of the attack on Haiti’s sovereignty and that we pushed that man on a populace that could do better. I don’t want to make the same mistake again. From this point on, purchasing Wyclef/Fugees records or supporting his candidacy in any material way is colonialism re-imagined. Even though Wyclef is an expatriate, the majority of his support will come from the United States - specifically the hip hop music community. If we help him become President of Haiti, we’re going to end up kidnapping him just like we had to do with Aristide in 2004. Let’s not make the same mistake twice.

Jake: I think you are way out of line. I remember the first time I purchased a Fugees t-shirt, the first time I recieved a Wyclef Jean album in the mail from the BMG music club and I will certainly remember the day Wyclef becomes the president of Haiti. I do not feel that Glenn being against this is because he is racist, and this is the first debate we have had where I can honestly say that. I think Glenn just has negative feelings toward the hip hop community because of the lyrics of “hardcore” rappers like C-Murder and Master P. Wyclef’s lyrics are inspirational much like the gospel music Glenn usually enjoys. He will bring peace to Haiti and will probably have a really good inauguration celebration. Still, in the back of my mind, I’m not sure how to feel about this until I hear from Lauryn Hill.

Glenn: This looks like one of those rare debates where we can actually come to a shared conclusion: let’s hear from Lauryn Hill. If she is supportive of his presidency, I will come around. But if not, she will only confirm my darkest fears: that Wyclef Jean is not what Haiti needs. My birth parents were second generation Haitian immigrants, so my statement on these matters is as legitimate as Wyclef's potential candidacy. Even his charity, YĆ©le Haiti, has come under some controversy for the way its distributed money. I appreciate what Wyclef Jean wants to do and I know his Haitian heart is the right place, but we elected a young, unconventional candidate in 2008 and look what happened to us.


  1. I agree. How can you form an opinion on anything until you hear what Lauryn Hill thinks? Let's ask her about Roosevelt Island while we're at it.

  2. Personally I just think he wants to beat Angelina Jolie and Madonna in the child adoption game. Think about it, if he is elected president, he would be the father to all the children in the custody of the state!

  3. i'd vote for wyclef solely for the fact that his song from hotel rwanda made me cry a thousand tears.

  4. Wyclef for president - of any country!