Rock the Vote (Taylor’s Version)

Swift weighed in on Super Tuesday—and it's not enough.

Taylor Swift finally commented on this year’s presidential primaries. There have been theories swirling that she’s part of a government conspiracy to get Joe Biden re-elected, but her latest post threw some cold water on that theory.

Swift posted the following message to her Instagram stories this morning:

(I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention all Meta platforms—Facebook, Instagram, Messenger—experienced a global outage just a few minutes later. Coincidence? Yes. Can we convince everyone it was a coincidence? Absolutely not.)

Swift’s message was completely benign, and I’m sure it will inspire not an insignificant number of people to vote. But she could’ve done so much more.

I’m no Swiftie, nor am I anti-Swiftie. I am happy for her success and admire her for it, period. I really like a bunch of her songs. I’m saying this because, A) I know my opinion of her has a major impact on her life, B) but also because I do not in any way want to be misunderstood as a hater.

What’s frustrating is that Taylor knows how powerful she is—yes, monetarily, but also in the sheer scope of her reach. She’s known this since at least 2018 when she specifically endorsed candidates in her home state of Tennessee.

An excerpt from a 2018 Instagram caption:

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. Running for Senate in the state of Tennessee is a woman named Marsha Blackburn. As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women…

I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives. Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values. For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100% on every issue, but we have to vote anyway.

There’s even a whole scene in the 2020 documentary Miss Americana that shows her wrestling with this choice. It’s important and powerful.

So why now, when the Supreme Court is systematically taking away our rights and Donald Trump has vowed to be a dictator would she believe saying something as anodyne as “go vote!” is nearly enough? Especially when you consider a handful of primaries have already happened—not to mention posting this message on primary day when people already have their days planned. It all feels a bit feckless.

It makes me think of a scene from one of my favorite movies, The Princess Diaries, where Princess Mia (Anne Hathaway) is complaining about her royal attention and her friend Lilly puts things in perspective.

Lilly: I just found out that my cable show only reaches 12 people. Wanting to rock the world but having zip power like me, that's a nightmare. But you, wow. I mean...

Mia: Okay, what is so wow?

Lilly: Wow is having the power to affect change, make people listen. How many teenagers have that power? What more of a miracle do you want? 

But Taylor is no teenage princess: She’s the queen of the damn world. She’s her own ECONOMY. A specific directive from her means more than virtually anyone in the world—especially to young voters.

It feels like she’s trying to have it both ways: For those who wish she’d get more involved in politics to see she made some effort, but for those who wish she’d butt out, it’s super low effort. And most importantly, it’s non-partisan.

And of course there’s always the possibility that maybe she doesn’t want people to vote for Joe Biden, despite a decent amount of evidence to the contrary.

Her message is a net good; that is not in question. But when you have the world’s ear, don’t you owe them something important to listen to?

Join the conversation

or to participate.