Down is up, up is down. England left Europe. Bradley Cooper is a country singer; Lady Gaga is an actress. Kanye "George Bush hates black people" West is a MAGA-hat wearing Trump supporter. And now Taylor Swift, the supposedly apolitical pop star who in recent years has become a symbol of the ills of white feminism, has made a hard pivot to the left in support of the Democrats.
In a truly unusual move for Swift, who typically posts selfies with her fans, cats or group shots with her infamous squad, the singer posted a lengthy note to social media declaring her support of Democratic candidates Phil Bredesen for the Senate and Jim Cooper for the House in her home state of Tennessee. She also condemned Republican candidate Marsha Blackburn for her voting record on policies regarding women and the LGBTQ community.
"As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office," Swift wrote, "I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values."
Once considered a master of PR whose hyper-relatable persona served as a blueprint for celebrities trying to connect with fans, Swift's fall from grace over the past two years was most closely linked to her feud with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, but the more lasting—and nefarious—change to her reputation resulted from her deafening silence on all matters political at a time when even micro-celebrities have rushed to fill the vacuum of public intellectuals and moral leaders. Addressing this, Swift wrote:
"In the past I've been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now. I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country. I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent."
This may be Swift's first explicit endorsement of a political candidate or policy, but make no mistake: she was never apolitical.
This may be Swift's first explicit endorsement of a political candidate or policy, but make no mistake: she was never apolitical. In remaining neutral and silent where her peers spoke out, Swift leaned into her image as a squeaky clean, non-threatening pop star whose roots—and fan base—are firmly grounded in country music. The fact alone that she'll cast her ballot in Tennessee and not Los Angeles is a reminder of her place in the cultural stratosphere. Aside from a few tepid posts in praise of the Women's March and March for Our Lives, Swift has been precariously straddling the line dividing her die-hard red state fans and those of, and adjacent to, the cultural zeitgeist who admire her songwriting chops and have relegated her to the guilty music playlist best kept away from the aux cord when friends are around. (There is of course another contingent that has discarded her entirely).
Is it a case then, of too little too late? This is a woman, after all, who refused to denounce the white supremacist groups that claim her as their Aryan goddess. Given her massive influence, surely it would have been ideal for Swift to speak out sooner. But she didn't, and the fact that she's choosing to speak now will surely shock the legions of fans who were under the impression she was secretly on their side but muzzled by a pop star's necessity for political correctness. Whether this is just another savvy ploy for positive publicity now that her twin flame has gone full MAGA, or a genuine expression of her political views, Swift will surely draw mountains of ire for speaking out at all (knowing this, she's already disabled comments on Instagram). Luckily she's had some experience with that, and will handle this change of current just fine.