Taylor Swift endorses Democrats in rare political statement

‘In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions... I feel very differently about that now’

Taylor Swift has voiced her support for Phil Bredesen and Jim Cooper, two Democrats running for Senate and the House of Representatives respectively, in the upcoming midterm elections in her state, Tennessee. It’s a rare political post from the pop star, who has previously been criticised for her lack of engagement in politics.

Swift posted a letter to Instagram on Sunday (October 7) urging her fans and followers to vote after learning more about the political candidates running in their state. She explained how she planned to vote for candidates who are committed to protecting human rights, irrespective of race, gender, and sexual orientation.

In the post, she explains that she has previously been “reluctant” about sharing her political views, “but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now”.

She continues: “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.”

She goes on to criticise Republican Tennessee representative and Congress candidate Marsha Blackburn, whose voting record “appalls and terrifies” her. “As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn,” she writes. “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.”

She concludes that “so many intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people have turned 18 in the past two years and now have the right and privilege to make their vote count. But first you need to register, which is quick and easy to do.”

Swift was previously criticised for her silence during the 2016 presidential election campaign – while she shared a photo of herself outside a polling booth on election day, encouraging her large fanbase to vote, she did not endorse a particular candidate. At best, this was seen as a failure to live up to the feminist values that she’d previously leveraged for her own career benefit, while at worst it was read (somewhat uncharitably) as tacit support for Donald Trump and the Republicans.

While it is well within an individual’s right to express or not express their political views, Swift’s silence left a vacuum that was filled by the online neo-Nazis of the alt-right, who decided to hail Swift as their ‘Aryan goddess’ (most likely ironically, but with real world repercussions). 

This, coupled with the extremely self-centred nature of Reputation, the album she subsequently released, resulted in Swift’s music being described by critics as “pure Trump-era pop art”. In one extreme example, The Guardian dedicated a whole editorial(!) to discussing whether Swift was “an envoy for Trump’s values”.

A cynical look at Swift’s endorsement of Bredesen and Cooper is that she’s trying to earn back some critical goodwill following the disastrous PR campaign of Reputation, but in the shadow of the Brett Kavanaugh nomination, her lawsuit against a DJ she claimed groped her, and the ongoing horrors faced by women and minorities in the USA more generally, it’s better for everyone’s sanity to take Swift’s comments in good faith.

Bredesen responded to Swift’s endorsement on Twitter, writing: “I’m honoured to have your support and that of so many Tennesseans who are ready to put aside the partisan shouting and get things done. We’re ready for it.”

The midterm elections take place on November 6. October 9 is the last day to register to vote in Tennesse.

Check out Swift’s Instagram post above.