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The Dartmouth
April 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Q&A with Paperboy Love Prince

Prince is an artist, activist and perennial political candidate currently running for president as a member of the Democratic Party.

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Paperboy Love Prince is a hip-hop artist who is running for the Democratic nomination for President. Previously, they have run for Congress, city council and Mayor of New York City. Following an unannounced visit to Dartmouth during his presidential campaign, Paperboy Love Prince sat down with The Dartmouth to discuss their platform of “love” and their vision for America.

Could you speak to me a bit about your campaign and your platform?

PP: One of our policies — and I have so many that I’m super excited about — is “love centers,” which I’ve been talking about for a while. It’s kind of a revitalized idea of a community center. Right now, we’re on a college campus, and there are so many places for people to come together. We are in the student center, where folks can come together, you can eat, you can meet, you can discuss ideas. Maybe you can learn a new skill, learn a language or join a new group. 

We don’t have places like that for American citizens to come together, to get to know their neighbors and meet their friends in a place that isn't based around alcohol or a sporting team or where you have to pay $100 a ticket to get in. A place that is actually just based on community. But folks throw that word around, but they don’t want to actually build it and make it for the people. There are a lot of libraries and museums, but they’re not built around love with the idea of folks coming together in a new way. This is the revitalized idea of a church, of a community center, because back in the day, this wasn’t needed. Our parents and grandparents went to church, they went to synagogue, they went to the mosque. This generation, we don’t really have that. 

Another policy that I debuted just for this presidential campaign is called One Million for One Million. It’s the idea of giving one million dollars to one million people every year who are doing something positive for their community. So if you’re doing something that’s helping society, if you’re collecting books so kids can read, if you’re being a great mother and inspiring other mothers, maybe you’re a teacher somewhere, or maybe you’re a great student that inspires other students and helps folks out. Whatever it is, let’s reward that, so they can go further in their pursuits. Let’s show that this is what we’re striving for as a country. We can highlight so many people who are doing great things. 

And we have the money because when it’s a situation of war, we always have the money. When it’s a situation for incarceration, we have the money, but when it’s a situation that actually does more good for society, it’s something that’s slow to be moved on. So that’s another policy that’s based on love.

You speak of “transforming the country with love.” Could you tell me more about the guiding purpose behind your work? What does the concept of love mean to you?

PP: In previous elections, folks talked about hate. They talked about a rise in hate speech. They talked about a rise in hate crimes. And they asked, “What’s the answer?” They’re afraid to say love, and when they do say love, they don’t actually mean it. When I say love, I mean it, and we back it up in the words that we say, our actions, our mutual aid efforts and inspiration and our policies and our plans. What we fight for is actually transforming this country to benefit the people first. 

The Constitution talks about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but our current leadership often forgets about our life. They trample over our liberties, and they mention nothing of the pursuit of happiness. They mention nothing of the pursuit of joy and the pursuit of love. Those are the principles that this country was founded on, principles of imagination and inspiration. And that’s what a lot of folks want and need. Mixing that with actual hard-hitting policies and new ideas is how we’ll actually move into the future. 

What brings you to Dartmouth today?

PP: I think what’s important about coming to Dartmouth is that the students are the future. The energy that the students have determines the energy that this nation has. The inspiration and vision that the students have, the work ethic that the students have, it translates into how the future of this country looks. I want my message heard among the halls of Dartmouth along with the students, for them to be able to take that in and think about it and carry it along. And catch the same vibes that I’m on, you know, like really catch that vibe. The political vibe. 

I remember when I was in college, I hung out with the Young Democrats, the Young Republicans, the activist groups, the frats, the athletes. I hung out with everyone. That’s what college is about. It’s about finding ways to interact with people who are different from you and learn from them and have your way of thinking challenged and be able to update your way of thinking. So I’m here to have my thoughts challenged. I’m here to not just speak my message, but listen and hear what matters.

How has your work as an artist and rapper influenced your political career?

PP: Being a rapper is so much more competitive than being a politician because it’s a hyperactive genre. It’s the most streamed genre in the world. It’s in so many different countries and cultures. It’s one of the greatest American art forms, right? 

I can use music and art to reach more people, and it’s a great starting point. I have also written two books. I have “Collectivist Policies to Save America” and “Unconventional Political Odyssey.” The latter is a collection of thoughts and photos and different memorabilia from my campaign.

Art is just another way to reach people in an authentic way because it’s also just a part of who I am as a person. 

Why would you represent U.S. citizens in a manner different from previous candidates? Why should voters vote for Paperboy? 

PP: One thing that really separates me from a lot of candidates is this is the fifth time I’ve run for office. I ran for Congress in 2020, Mayor of New York City in 2021, Congress in 2022, City Council in 2023 and now for president. Through these campaigns, I’ve fought to weed out money from our elections and out of politics. Money has basically trumped everything that is going on, and then it makes folks more loyal to their donors than the people. 

My campaign is not the biggest in terms of money, and it’s self-funded. We don’t have any donation links set up or anything like that. We have volunteers, but no donation link. And the reason for that is to take a stand, and it’s not to say that no one wants to donate. It’s to say that right now money has basically overpowered politics in each campaign. 

I’ve run about the most votes per dollar spent. Nikki Haley, who’s running for president, has spent over $69 million just on T.V. ads over the last few months. Chris Christie, who dropped out of the presidential race, recently spent $30 million on his presidential campaign. $30 million. I mean, imagine what his local city could do with that $30 million. And that’s on a presidential campaign that very few people are excited about and that ended. It costs a lot of money to run for office. That’s why we need folks at the top, who have those voices, to help us get money out of politics.

Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will say they’re better. I want to say they’re better than most of them. But I’m critiquing them. They’re better than most of them. But what they will say is, “I don't take corporate political action committee money,” which is a good start, and you need money to compete in a campaign. But they don’t say that we need to get all PAC money out of politics, not just the corporate PAC money. 

And then another thing I will say is focusing on the local. One thing that I’m doing is encouraging other folks to run for office as well and to take over their local Democratic parties, their local Republican parties on the county level, then on the state level and then the national level. Just to remind folks how important local politics is, and this is a national campaign that's actually focused on local politics. What’s super important is reminding folks to not just show up for your presidential primary, but also be informed and engaged in your local primaries and take control of those. 

What do you believe is the role of aesthetics in political campaigns, particularly in the era of social media?

PP: Someone who is 13 years old right now will be able to vote in the next election. Say they turn 14 in a couple of weeks or a couple of months. They’ll be able to vote in that next primary. And so who’s focusing on that? I'm hyper-focusing on folks that have been traditionally left out of electoral politics: young people, teenagers, artists, so many people. Honestly, this is most people. There are more people on the side who have been left out than the people who are actively interested in participating in that system as is. Most people are upset with it. 

So for me, aesthetics are about being unashamed and breaking free from the systems and the ideas of the past. It’s not about waiting for permission to say, ‘Okay, now you get to run for president. Now you get to dress how you want.’ It's not about waiting for that. It’s saying, “You know what, our time is right now, to do this.’ And it’s about looking the part. I don't want to be confused with the folks that have screwed this country up at all. I want to be a stark difference from them. 

There are so many people who feel that there is something that makes them different. And because of that, that’s a reason for them not to try. My campaign is a statement that you can not only try, you can win, and not only win, you can win big. 

I just had a moment and inspired myself. Sometimes I roll my eyes, like, “Oh, like I’m the first non-binary person to run for president, the first gender nonconforming person to run for president.” That actually matters. It matters because there are people in this country that deserve representation.