Taylor Swift finally took a political stance and the U.S. responded
“Let’s just say I like her music about 25% less now,” President Trump said about Taylor Swift last week.
Some would think that a comment like this would drastically alter the public opinion of a singer.
For instance, many of us remember the Dixie Chicks feud in 2003 when they spoke out against President Bush. Natalie Maines’ controversial comment during a concert in London – “we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas” – led to backlash from the country for years.
However, President’s Trump remark –in response to Swift’s Instagram post last Monday– only appeared to boost her approval rating.
In the referenced Instagram post, Swift stated her endorsement for two democratic senators in Tennessee in the upcoming midterm election: Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives.
For long-time Swift fans like myself, this political move was inspiring and exhilarating. It invigorated the Get Out The Vote movement. This time, however, it specifically utilized her influence on the younger audiences across the nation.
Initiatives to this degree are essential for our contemporary political elections, when voter turnout from all age ranges is necessary.
This came as a surprise to many, as it succeeded a persisting reluctancy on Swift’s part to speak out politically.
“Due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now,” Swift said in her Instagram post.
As an aficionado, I was concerned for a long time by Swift’s silence on the political spectrum. When I was younger, I looked up to the artist as a role model. As I grew older, I continued to support her music, but I was disappointed that she didn’t recognize the impact she could make on her audiences from a political perspective.
This post, however, could not have been better timed.
“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 said on Instagram. “But first you need to register, which is quick and easy to do.”
This call to action lit up the nation.
Twenty-four hours after the Instagram post went public, 65,000 people 18-29 years-old registered on Vote.org. By Tuesday, their registration records hit 120,000.
Vote.org, the non-profit organization where citizens can register for free, reported it was the second biggest day in 2018 for unique visitors since National Registration Day in September. Whereas Vote.org generally has an average of 14,078 unique visitors daily, last Tuesday saw 155,940 visitors.
Tennessee itself also experienced a significant shift. According to Vote.org, “of the 5,183 new registrations in Tennessee this month, at least 2,144 came in the last 36 hours.”
In a country where voter turnout was at its lowest in 2016 during the presidential elections for eligible voters, according to CNN, these numbers signify a turning point in the U.S. democratic processes.
In the past two years, the importance of the youth vote has been emphasized. In 2016 specifically, only 50 percent of 18-29 years voted in the presidential election. Yet, the policies and laws written in by the Trump administration will affect this age group for the remainder of their lives.
For many of us that were unable in 2016, this month is a critical turning point. Swift seemed to recognize this, brought the next voting generation to the forefront and called out people of voting ages.
“Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values,” Swift wrote.
Swift not only endorsed two Tennessee candidates. She highlighted why she is not voting for the Republican Senate in Tennessee candidate, Marsha Blackburn. Swift stated that Blackburn is not supporting equal pay for women, that she voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and that she believes gay couples do not have the right to get married in a court of law.
“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,” Swift said.
Voting can seem pointless. Maybe you feel your vote doesn’t count. Or maybe you don’t think politics shouldn’t concern you. But it is our responsibility, as a nation, to make our voice count. We are not a nation hinging on silence.
We are a country depending on each belief system, religion, culture, race, gender and individual to be represented. Whether you agree with Swift or not, this holds true for each and every one of us.
“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,” Swift said.
Isn’t this what we should all be doing?