About two weeks ago, Taylor Swift proclaimed herself as not only a voter, but an adamant voter. Her Instagram post reminding her followers to vote shook the world of social media, and was followed by an acceptance speech at the American Music Awards reminding her fans that voted for her to win an award to vote in the midterm elections. As a celebrity with one of the biggest and most loyal followings, it would be foolish to say that Swift’s post and speech will not impact the voter turnout in certain states, especially her home state of Tennessee.
Vote.org saw a spike in 65,000 registrants just one day after Swift’s post. There was also an increased amount of traffic to the website in the same 24-hour period, with 155,940 new visitors who had never appeared on the website’s database before (CNN). The impact of Swift’s decision to take a political stance in the current climate of American politics no doubt made a huge impact on young voter’s participation in at minimum the midterm elections this November.
There was of course, some major pushback on Swift’s decision to publicize not only her adamancy regarding voting, but her leniencies when it comes to voting. As an artist who was at one point a country singer, she had a major following from southern and therefore, most likely more conservative, fans. Therefore, her critics claim that her decision to reveal her political beliefs when she has made a smoother transition over to pop music and the politically liberal climate that comes with it these days, would not hurt her career in a major way. If anything, it may be helping her career, allowing fans who previously alienated themselves from her and her music because of her lack of voice in the political community to identify with her again.
It is not unusual for Swift to feel this kind of backlash for a public statement or action. She is often highly criticized and a common topic of conversation in the media. However, Swift’s decision to profess her party affiliation on social media is arguably a result of both her recent political experiences and her personal experiences with sexual harassment in the past year or so. Swift experienced a case of sexual harassment when David Mueller, a DJ who attended her meet and greet attended a meet and greet in 2017 and reached under Swift’s skirt in the photo that was being taken. She sued him for a symbolic one dollar, showing women around the world that they should speak up to, for both the sake of themselves and other women who have had similar experiences.
The daunting confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanagh to the United States Supreme Court just one day before Swift’s post is clearly the source of her very pointed and comprehensive Instagram post. Kavanagh’s confirmation no doubt shook Swift in the same way it shook many women in the United States.
Swift’s announcement, and continued activism, will undoubtedly have an impact on the political community for young people, predominantly young girls. In the previous presidential election, it became clear that gender solidarity is not a major factor when it comes to voting. According to voting statistics, 53 percent of white women voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election. Hopefully Swift, as well as other female public figures, especially those who are prominent in the eyes of young women, can change this statistic and create a platform for true gender solidarity in the United States.
(Photo of Taylor Swift from her performance at the AMA’s just after her Instagram post from Rolling Stone.)