October 10, 2018

Taylor Swift finally takes a Political Stand—Here’s why it Matters.

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I’m writing this post about the upcoming midterm elections on November 6th, in which I’ll be voting in the state of Tennessee. 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. I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love. Running for Senate in the state of Tennessee is a woman named Marsha Blackburn. As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, 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. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives. Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values. For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100% on every issue, but we have to vote anyway. 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. October 9th is the LAST DAY to register to vote in the state of TN. Go to vote.org and you can find all the info. Happy Voting! ???

A post shared by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on Oct 7, 2018 at 4:33pm PDT

After a long music career predicated on the art of making wildly successful pop music and not stepping on anyone’s toes along the way, Taylor Swift has finally made a public statement on Instagram to support two Democratic candidates for the upcoming midterm elections.

Now if you are rolling your eyes and thinking, “Who cares?” you’re not alone. That is exactly how I reacted as well—that is, until I looked further into why this matters.

When the Dixie Chicks experienced a horrific lapse in judgement in 2003 and publicly criticized George W. Bush and the Iraq War, their career was irreparably damaged. The events of 9/11 were still very much in the country’s short-term memory and if bumper stickers and T-shirts were any indication of public sentiment, the majority was out for blood. It served as a cautionary tale for anyone who was interested in continuing to tour and not being blacklisted from all the major networks.

So, it was understandable in some way why an incredibly wealthy and successful pop star might want to stay mum with regard to the political landscape.

But as Swift explained to her more than 11 million followers on Instagram and, by extension, her 83 million followers on Twitter, certain events that have taken place over the past two years have driven her to finally say something. Coincidentally, this is about how long Donald J. Trump has been in office—however, I think there is more to it than that for her. There’s also her sexual assault case against the ex-DJ who groped her during a photo-op.

I believe the combination of these two events may have caused Swift to reach a boiling point.

Again though, why does any of this matter?

When you think about the fact that the 100 million people who stayed home on November 8, 2016, are more responsible for the direction that the country is heading in right now than the 60 million who actually voted for Donald Trump—it’s pretty obvious why it matters.

“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,” Swift went on to say on her post. She followed this with a plug for where they can register to vote straight from their mobile devices.

The immediate results from Swift’s post are profound: Vote.org reported an unprecedented spike in voter registration in the first 24 hours since her post, with 65,000 new names added to their list. This is more than what they had seen for the entire month of August.

Her post also included an important message to the post-millennials who are not terribly interested in partisan politics, but are very interested in the issues that they espouse:

“I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender, or who they love.”

As the father of two young daughters who look up to Swift, this sentiment really resonated with me. I am not so sure I’d feel especially good about my little girls espousing any party line—hook, line, and sinker—but what’s of paramount importance to me is that they understand it is crucial that we remain charitable and humane to everyone around us. This is what I feel Swift drove home with her remarks.

And again, these sentiments matter.

I become disheartened at times trying to raise girls in a society that seems to be putting in an incredible amount of effort to backpedal to a time that I was sure we left behind 50 years ago. Reading Swift’s post to my kids helped ameliorate that despair a little.

With the recent confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court, many people feel as if the ruling class in our country just voiced a very loud “who cares?” to all of its women and any of its men who care about them. Obviously, Taylor Swift is answering that question rather deftly.


author: Billy Manas

Image: @taylorswift/Instagram

Image: Time Magazine cover

Editor: Nicole Cameron

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Will Danner Oct 18, 2018 4:57am

Andrzej Olszewski Since you feel the need to voice yourself, why don't you give us all an illustration of 'a lot of brilliant, thoughtful stuff on the conservative side of things'? I'm sure some inquiring minds want to know, I certainly do..

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Billy Manas Oct 13, 2018 3:55am

Angel Smith In the interest of not getting involved in an utterly fruitless ideological internet debate, I am going to refrain from responding to either of you. Thank you for reading!

Angel Smith Oct 12, 2018 9:10pm

Billy Manas "Stalinism" is more about the philosophy of "my camp, right or wrong" and less about the people who had done Stalin's dirty work. The left had been in that struggle before, e.g. http://www.openculture.com/2013/10/albert-camus-writes-a-friendly-letter-to-jean-paul-sartre.html "The querulous falling out of Sartre and Camus has acquired almost legendary status, with the two sometimes standing in for two divergent paths of French post-war philosophy. Where Sartre gravitated toward orthodox Marxism, and aligned his views with Stalin’s even in the face of the Soviet camps, Camus repudiated revolutionary violence and valorized the tragic struggle of the individual in 1951's The Rebel, the work that allegedly incited their philosophical split." ######################### The problem of the liberals today is that you have way too many people with Sartre's approach and no leader like Camus. Ask your liberal friends, none of them read Camus' "The Rebel".

Andrzej Olszewski Oct 12, 2018 8:38pm

Charles, what would you say if she had embraced a conservative? Would you still praise her thoughtful, "non-partisan" call to action? Because there is a lot of brilliant, thoughtful stuff on the conservative side of things too. If you don't quite believe it, I strongly recommend broadening the reading horizons.

Andrzej Olszewski Oct 12, 2018 8:33pm

Billy Manas Nonsense. Would you have writtien this article if Swift had embraced a Republican -- no matter how eleoquent the call for "research" and "making things better"?

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Billy Manas

Billy Manas is a poet, singer-songwriter, and truck driver from the Hudson Valley in New York, where you can catch his act at wine tastings and breweries. His distinct voice in both song and poetry is likely the result of his degree in literature and his teenage years spent outside of CBGB’s on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. His new book “Kickass Recovery,” is being published by New World Library and will be available in the Spring of 2020 . Catch up with Billy on his website.