In an interview with Rolling Stone published Wednesday, Taylor Swift revealed that after the 2016 election she became “obsessed” with politics. “Really, I keep trying to learn as much as I can about politics, and it’s become something I’m now obsessed with, whereas before, I was living in this sort of political ambivalence, because the person I voted for had always won.”
So brave, Taylor, coming out telling the world you voted for Obama. So brave.
My first election was voting for him when he made it into office, and then voting to re-elect him. I think a lot of people are like me, where they just didn’t really know that this could happen. But I’m just focused on the 2020 election. I’m really focused on it. I’m really focused on how I can help and not hinder. Because I also don’t want it to backfire again, because I do feel that the celebrity involvement with Hillary’s campaign was used against her in a lot of ways.
In 2018, Taylor Swift endorsed Democrat Phil Bredesen over Republican Marsha Blackburn for U.S. Senate in Tennessee, her home state. Blackburn won. While she may not have changed the minds of red-state voters, she has every intention of using her fame to unite Democrats. “With Republicans, if you’re wearing that red hat, you’re one of them. And if we’re going to do anything to change what’s happening, we need to stick together,” she said. “We need to stop dissecting why someone’s on our side or if they’re on our side in the right way or if they phrased it correctly. We need to not have the right kind of Democrat and the wrong kind of Democrat. We need to just be like, ‘You’re a Democrat? Sick. Get in the car. We’re going to the mall.’”
I don’t particularly care about her politics, but conservative science-fiction author Jon Del Arroz, and former Swiftie, thinks Taylor’s political coming out was not a great move. “I was a huge fan of Taylor Swift and wrote articles defending her. It feels like she’s stabbed her fans in the back,” he told PJ Media. “She was stridently apolitical for so long—something all Americans could enjoy.” According to Del Arroz, Taylor’s political preaching “shuns half the country,” particularly “the conservative country fans who built her career.”
Personally, I always assumed she was liberal, but I respected the fact she understood her job was to entertain, not proselytize. On the surface, this seemed like a smart business move on her part, considering her country roots. The Dixie Chicks (who appear on her new album) famously trashed George W. Bush in 2003, prompting country music stations to stop playing their music. Taylor hasn’t been “country music” in years (some say she never was really country) having successfully transitioned to generic pop—which is where she lost me as a fan. Not once have I ever deluded myself into thinking she was a closet conservative, like many on the right have. As far as I’m concerned, her last decent album is 1989, but I would argue she was at her best with Speak Now. Taylor lost me with her previous album, Reputation, which was released in 2017. It’s a mess of synth-pop and electropop that even features her rapping, for crying out loud. There’s a reason it’s her lowest-selling album.
Truth be told, Taylor’s newfound obsession does not appear to have hurt her in the short term. Her new album has broken all sorts of records—which was probably helped by the fact there are four editions of the album, and many of her fans will literally buy everything with her name on it—but it remains to be seen what the longterm impact of her political activism will be. Many of Taylor’s fans are young girls whose parents may not appreciate her taking on the role of political mouthpiece for the Democratic Party.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis