Taylor Swift — who started her career in country music three years after the Dixie Chicks were driven off airwaves for taking a stand against the Iraq invasion — has always been careful not to talk politics. Until now, that is. In an Instagram post on Sunday, Swift disclosed that she would be voting in Tennessee in November for two Democrats: former governor-turned-Senate hopeful Phil Bredesen and Rep. Jim Cooper, whose district includes Nashville.
“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. “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.”
But Swift didn’t just throw her weight behind Bredesen, she savaged his opponent, Marsha Blackburn, calling the Trump-endorsed congresswoman out for her votes against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and her support of homophobic policies. “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,” Swift wrote.
High-profile Republicans — and anonymous white nationalists online — were bereft.
The National Republican Senate Committee put out a statement Monday declaring “multimillionaire pop star Taylor Swift came down from her ivory tower to tell hardworking Tennesseans to vote for Phil Bredesen.”
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee tweeted dismissively, “So @taylorswift13 has every right to be political but it won’t impact election unless we allow 13 yr old girls to vote. Still with #MarshaBlackburn.”
And conservative personality Candace Owens volunteered to campaign for Blackburn in Tennessee, writing that Swift was using “black people and minorities as pawns to brainwash people into doing their bidding.”
Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA, a conservative group best known for wearing adult diapers to protest liberal policies on college campuses, suggested on Fox News Monday morning that Swift didn’t believe what she wrote. “I don’t want to accuse her of this, but I don’t think she’s the only one who wrote that post on Instagram,” Kirk said. “She probably got some very bad information.”
On the website 4chan, where a community of White nationalists have embraced Swift as an “Aryan queen” whose political silence was a tacit admission of racist sympathies, several users floated similar theories. “That looks so ghost written. Ever notice how every celebrity seems to be reciting the same exact script and even use the same wording,” one user wrote. Another added: “All PR nonsense, she just doesn’t want to be labeled a white nationalist. Probably got paid to say all this.”
Users were nonetheless stricken by the development. “OUR GIRL no more,” one posted. “They took her from us and turned her into one of their brain dead zombies,” another wrote.
Swift’s endorsement is not without commercial risk. According to an analysis by the New York Times, she is most popular in rural areas in the West and Midwest that tend to vote conservative, like Utah, Montana and Nevada, and only modestly popular in Tennessee. Maybe an endorsement of Nevada candidate Jacky Rosen is next?