Why is Taylor Swift talking about politics?

Trump said he likes her music "25% less" now. What do you think about Taylor Swift's political statement?


Photo from Newsday

During the 2016 presidential election, news headlines about pop singer Taylor Swift often looked like this: “Who is Taylor Swift voting for? She’ll never tell” (Vox) or “It’s time for Taylor Swift to say something about Donald Trump” (Splinter) or “Taylor Swift’s Loud Election Silence” (The Daily Beast). Swift remained silent throughout the entire election, angering those who believed that her influence could’ve changed the outcome of the election, which is a lot to expect from one person despite how famous she may be.

In order to explore why Swift’s decision to get political is surprising, I must take you back to the beginning. In 2008, around the time of the election, Rolling Stones asked Swift about her political beliefs, and she responded with a vague answer, saying, “You know, I just try and stick to my speciality, and my speciality is music and writing songs.” She echoed that statement right around the time of Obama’s reelection in 2012 by telling Time, “I don’t talk about politics because it might influence other people. And I don’t think that I enough yet in life to be telling people who to vote for.” This is a far cry from the Taylor Swift who posted a political Instagram on Sunday night.

Taylor Swift’s political Instagram post. Photo from PopCulture.com

This article is in no way a criticism of Swift’s Instagram post because there is nothing wrong with her initial statement. It isn’t simply a post about lecturing her fans, but rather a post urging people to do their research and find the candidate that most aligns with their views. She never says, “I’m not voting for Marsha Blackburn because she’s a Republican,” but instead says, “I’m not voting for Marsha Blackburn and here are the reasons why.” Her post reflects someone who did thorough research and has concrete reasons for her viewpoint. She shows thoughtfulness on the matter, and does not seem to be blindly voting along party lines. She says, “For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree with 100%,” showing that her post isn’t intended to be partisan. In fact, she never explicitly mentions the words Republican or Democrat. The problem with her post isn’t the fact that she posted it, but the reason why she did and the aftermath of her statement.

We could go back and forth for hours trying to figure out if Swift spoke out because she truly wanted to or because she felt pressured to by the media. It is very possible that in such a divided, fractured country, Swift, like so many others, is frustrated with the way our current political state is running and decided that remaining silent is no longer an option. However, it’s also possible that after years of abuse from Twitter and the media, Swift felt forced into politics. But at the end of the day, we’ll probably never know why she truly did speak up.

Taylor Swift’s Instagram post was both respectful and carefully curated as to not offend or alienate anyone. However, her initial reaction soon became overshadowed by the fan posts she liked on the social media app Tumblr. Swift, who is famous for connecting with fans on Tumblr, began liking fans’ posts that were more partisan. One image (see below) showed Swift pretending to kick a man with the word “Republicans” superimposed onto his body. Perhaps, this is looking too sensitively at the picture, but during a time where there is such a hatred between political parties, this post causes further divide and also incites violence against Republicans. Again, this could be too deep, but the whole post just seems inappropriate. We should be looking to amend our political differences, not further divide them. Some fans came to her defense, claiming the post to be a joke, but with no clarification from Swift herself, there is no way to assume the post was a joke.

The post Taylor Swift liked on Tumblr. Photo from Tumblr.

Like anyone, Swift is allowed to have whatever political beliefs she wants, but she should express those beliefs in a way that is mindful and respectful of the fact that some of her fans are Republicans. In fact, Swift, who started out as a Nashville-based country singer, built a fanbase largely of conservative country fans. One thing that we can all learn is that there is still a way to be political without being disrespectful.