The right's desperate counteroffensive against Swift
The snowflakes are panicking ...
There are few phenomena in public life more fascinating than the intersection of politics and culture. And if you share my interest in the subject, you must be having a field day right about now. I know I am.
Taylor Swift, the most influential, successful and talented pop musician since Michael Jackson — though my wife says Beyoncé fans might disagree — finds herself embroiled in a controversy not of her own making, but of reactionary conservative politicians and right-wing media.
The 34-year-old megastar possesses fame and fortune at a level that even most of her fellow celebrities can only dream of. Bloomberg News estimates her net worth at $1.1 billion as of October 2023, making her the first musician to achieve billionaire status “solely based on her songs and performances.” Last year, Swift was named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year,” an honor that puts her on the same level as Dear Leader Donald Trump, the presumptive 2024 Republican presidential nominee.
So what is her sin, aside from being squarely in the one-tenth of 1 percent? She occasionally dabbles in politics. And it goes without saying that any presidential candidate would love to have her endorsement. A Swift Instagram plea-post last September (see below) caused more than 35,000 of her feverish fans to register to vote.
Swift endorsed two Tennessee Democrats for Congress in 2018, supported Joe Biden’s successful candidacy in 2020 and reportedly regrets not speaking out against Trump four years earlier. This has fueled speculation that she will endorse Biden, the likely Democratic nominee, once again.
Many of Swift’s passionate fans (they’re known as “Swifties” and there’s got to be millions in the US alone) will vote for whomever she says. A recent survey found that 18 percent of voters say they’re “more likely” or “significantly more likely” to vote for a candidate endorsed by Swift.
The Swift-endorsed former Democratic Congressman Jim Cooper of Tennessee, where Swift has a home, said, “anybody in their right mind” would want Swift’s endorsement. “You want the pope’s endorsement,” Cooper said, tongue planted firmly in cheek. “Who’s left who has great appeal?”
“Her sway was more visible with voters under the age of 35,” reports The Daily Mail. “This election will see 8 million new voters in the US electorate — and a total of 41 million Gen Z voters, many of whom are influenced by celebrities and social media.”
Okay, so you can see the problem here. Just about everyone who’s been paying attention knows this year’s presidential election will likely be a nail-biter. The last thing Republicans want is for some pop-star idol to inject herself into the race and help Democrats.
To make matters worse for the GOP, Swift is dating — very publicly — the Super Bowl-bound Kansas City Chiefs tight-end Travis Kelce, one of the best ever to play that position (though not the very best because Kelce can’t block like Ron Gronkowski could, but I digress). And (gasp) the couple is often seen hugging and kissing after Kelce’s games.
Kelce’s sin: Aside from dating Swift, he did a commercial for Pfizer urging people to get vaccinated against COVID. And according to Axios, “among the most extreme conspiracy theories surrounding Swift and … Kelce, is that their relationship is a deep-state psy-op orchestrated by the NFL and Democrats to work in President Biden’s favor.” Others have accused Swift of witchcraft and summoning demons during her performances. My lord!
In other words, many Republicans and Trump supporters are terrified of Swift. They are now assuming the influential star will endorse Biden and they’re trying to discredit her in advance. And anything that stands in the way of returning Trump to the White House is fair game, no matter how sleazy or preposterous.
Republicans have no one to blame but themselves. Most of Swift’s fans are white and female. If you want the Taylor Swift vote, maybe you shouldn’t nominate an ex-president who boasts about having overturned Roe v. Wade in his first term. This is a guy who bragged about grabbing women by the genitals and then expects us to believe he didn’t sexually assault E. Jean Carroll.
Sorry GOP. You made your bed, then you soiled it. Now you must lie in it.
P.S. Below is an outstanding video of a monologue sports commentator Colin Cowherd delivered on the controversy. He speaks of “weird, insecure, lonely men” bothered by the spectacle of Swift and Kelce:
“Judge people by the silly things that bother them.”
Taylor Swift, Donald Trump and the Right’s Abnormality Problem -Ross Douthat, New York Times (free link)