In an absolutely shocking turn of events, Taylor Swift wrote an impassioned political Instagram post Sunday night encouraging her younger fans to vote Democrat in the upcoming midterm elections. Many folks were stunned to find out that the pop superstar was actually a Democrat—but is it really that shocking? Sure, Taylor Swift is known for her political “silence,” which she addressed right away in Sunday night’s post, but she actually hasn’t been as quiet as some were led to believe. Over the past couple years, the Grammy-hoarder has discreetly used her platform to stand with the LGBTQ community, elevate queer artists, and advocate for survivors of sexual abuse. So, is it really so shocking that a pro-LGBTQ, pro-women, young, female pop star who’s alive and breathing in present-day America is liberal? It shouldn’t be.
“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,” Swift wrote. Before voicing her support for Democratic candidates Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for the House of Representatives, Swift made it perfectly clear where her alliances lie: “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.”
Last year, Time named the 28-year old a “Silence Breaker,” alongside an impressive slate of both public-facing women and working women who spoke out against systemic sexual harassment. Swift’s inclusion in the controversial cover sparked a fire-tornado of discourse on social media, with some suggesting the singer-songwriter’s experience with harassment was somehow less important, or less harmful than others’ experiences—a narrative that, in itself, is harmful, because it belittles women’s traumas.
However, Swift was named a “Silence Breaker” for a reason: In 2017, DJ David Mueller sued her for defamation of character after she claimed he groped her bare ass at a public meet-and-greet. The “Bad Blood” singer countersued the DJ for the steep price of $1, for the purpose of proving that sexual harassment is a crime that should be (and is) punishable by law. She won the case.
The whole fiasco was a remarkable display of the platitude “actions speak louder than words,” and her impact was visible: The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) reported a 35 percent increase in phone calls to their crisis hotline in the weekend following Swift’s testimony. Plus, the legal drama took place months before the infamous Harvey Weinstein piece was published, which ignited the mass #MeToo and Time’s Up movements against sexual harassment and abuse. Swift’s case proved once again: Hell hath no fury like a petty woman scorned.
That very public show of support for victims of sexual harassment and abuse should not be overlooked. Could she have done more? Yes, everyone can do more. Many celebrities, like actress Alyssa Milano, director Ava DuVernay, and comedian Chelsea Handler have dedicated their social media pages to fighting the Trump administration, racism, police brutality, and rape culture on a daily basis. But in the wake of accused sexual abuser Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court Saturday, it’s clear that the timing of Swift’s political post was no coincidence.
For many women, democrats, and even moderates, the nomination of a man who has been accused of sexual abuse by three women to the highest court in the land was the last straw—and as a victim of sexual harassment herself, Swift was sending a message with her post—not just in her words, but in the timing of them—just one day after Kavanaugh was sworn in as a Supreme Court justice. As the saying goes, “she snapped.”
Comedian Jess Dweck sardonically pointed out on Twitter that it’s hard to imagine a world in which a twenty-something, female pop star isn’t a Democrat. Almost every major female artist has slammed the Trump administration or spoken out against the hate our president and his followers have inspired in the country. Last week, Lady Gaga appeared on The Late Show and came forward as a sexual assault survivor, and eviscerated Donald Trump for insinuating Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s memory of her assault wasn’t trustworthy. Demi Lovato, an out bisexual singer, has been very public in advocating for the LGBTQ community, and even slammed “certain pop stars” (who many believe to be Taylor Swift) for their political silence.
Beyonce, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Kesha, Cardi B, Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez, Lauren Jauregui, Camila Cabello, and Halsey have all marked their disgust for the GOP’s platforms more times than one can count. Earlier this year, Taylor Swift actually took to Instagram to promote the March for Our Lives protest, and encourage people to get vocal about gun violence in America—and yet, until last night, we’ve continued to write Swift off as the sole female artist who “refused” to use her powers for good.
Taylor’s staunch support of the LGBTQ community should’ve been the biggest giveaway that she was a Democrat. During Pride Month this year, the pop singer gave a moving speech on stage in Chicago in which she praised queer people for their bravery and honesty, especially “when you know that it might be met with adversity from society.” Swift has also aided in the elevation of queer artists, introducing them to more mainstream audiences. In one of her infamous “I’m bringing a famous person on stage” moments during the Reputation Stadium Tour, the “Look What You Made Me Do” singer brought out lesbian pop star Hayley Kiyoko on stage to perform her song “Curious.”
Back in April, Taylor also voiced her support for Kiyoko and those who face discrimination in the music industry, while acknowledging that her own privilege has protected her from such hardships. “We should applaud artists who are brave enough to tell their honest romantic narrative through their art,” she said, following an interview Kiyoko did with Refinery29, in which she revealed that she’s faced homophobic comments from music executives. Swift added, “The fact is that I’ve never encountered homophobia and she has. It’s her right to call out anyone who has double standards about gay vs straight love interests.” And during her Red Tour in 2014, Swift brought out lesbian duo Tegan & Sara on-stage to perform their single “Closer” with her.
Obviously, I understand the readiness to demand a public figure use their platform for good—especially a white woman with a fanbase as expansive and fervent as Swift’s is—especially when a solid chunk of her fans undoubtedly occupy red states. We need all the help we can get in this apocalyptic, scorched earth, coordinated Republican attack on America—but we can’t ignore the good that Swift has done in the last couple years.
In a since-deleted Instagram post in 2016, Swift encouraged her fans to get out and vote, but remained ambiguous about her political affiliations, which ultimately is what spurred the mass side-eyeing of the singer-songwriter (although some speculated that Swift’s sweater in the Instagram photo was a subtle nod to Hillary Clinton). Before 2016, Swift had barely spoken out about her political views, despite a very quiet hint that she voted for Barack Obama in 2008. However, outside of Patron Saints like Beyonce, many artists, actors, and constituents weren’t vocal about politics until the gutting 2016 election.
Regardless, Sunday night’s Instagram post was Swift’s first lengthy, direct statement about her political affiliations, and given the size of her platform (the singer currently boasts 112 million Instagram followers), her activism will likely have a positive and lasting effect on the November midterm elections. But let’s not act so stupefied by her recent actions—as true Swifties know, loving her was Blue.