Taylor Belongs With the Left

Pop pop-star quiz: Who politically weaponized Taylor Swift first? Milk-chugging edgelords, red keyboard harpies, or your humble correspondent?

Answer: I, of course!

Back in the Before Times when Ms. Swift still penned sweet, acoustic-guitar driven teenage flame ballads and not scorned one-note singles, I ran an anonymous “Swiftie” Twitter account, decked out in pink and tween slang, that dropped an occasional hard-edge libertarian screed. At one point, I prodded Hollywood gossip hound Perez Hilton into retweeting some tortured comparison between the songstress and Austrian economists—the cultural high mark for Rothbardianism, no doubt.

This was well before Taylor took the reckless leap every musical artist with two functioning brain cells falls for—offered her opinion in the political field. During the blue wipeout of 2018, Swift sicced her rabid following on Republicans in her adopted state of Tennessee, endorsing Phil Bresden for a competitive Senate seat and incumbent rep. Jim Cooper. Cooper won handedly; Bresden lost to Marsha Blackburn.

Guess Taylor will be belting out “Bad Blood” on a Stygian showboat, by her own lights. Tough gig serenading Old Scratch.

Swift also lent her superstardom to Joe Biden in 2020, along with the entirety of the intelligence-industrial apparatus and what Peter Savodnik calls the “American media-social-media complex.” Last year, she encouraged her slavish followers on Instagram to register to vote, which reportedly added 35,000 newly enfranchised to the rolls, many of whom can probably recite Swift’s entire oeuvre but have no idea who the vice president is or that America even has one.

This year’s election will probably prove no different—the singer’s on record mindlessly parroting the DNC-fed talking point that Trump “stok[ed] the fires of white supremacy and racism.”

But now Taylor Swift is more popular than ever, recently surpassing Elvis’s long-held record of Billboard chart domination as a solo act. (She is still far from approaching the Beatles’s insurmountable notch. She can’t claim to be bigger than Jesus yet, even though her fanbase may be unfamiliar with that longhaired peacenik.)

This time, the online right is ready, bracing its audience of fixed-income boomers, blue-jacket-and-khaki college Republicans, and Twitter-addicted MAGA trolls for a potential Swift-stan-pede. “Trump Allies Pledge ‘Holy War’ Against Taylor Swift,” reads a Rolling Stone headline.

Swift’s high-profile canoodling with Kansas City’s ego-drunk tight end Travis Kelce widens her substantive spotlight, swallowing up more attention during America’s most beloved sport. The Tay-NFL symbiosis is padding the League’s books to the tune of more than $300 million—a hefty sum yet a tiny percentage of the gridiron giant’s estimated worth of $140 billion, which dwarfs the GDP of some European countries.

As a (alleged) billionaire, Trump knows the score. He rode a wave of free media to the White House in 2016. He understands the power of claritas, and how it can tip electoral scales. Spare me the civics lecture on the dangers of sleb balloting. South Park skewered the notion to no effect. America is so star-obsessed that the red stripe on our flag may as well be a carpet.

Trump supposedly put out the word, capo di tutti capi-like, to his band of social-media misfits to trash Taylor. Low-rent podcaster Jack Posobiec tried reassuring a gathering of young conservatives that Team Red possesses its own fame agents: “We don’t have Taylor Swift on our side, but you know who we have? We have Kid Rock. We have Ted Nugent. We have influencers. We have all these people—Jon Voight.”

Ah, yes. Those great connectors with kids, the fencer in “Heat,” and a guitarist whose last hit was four decades ago. The right is starting to get better at the celeb game and it’s making lefties nervous, or something.

Presidential also-ran Vivek Ramasmarmy (please don’t add sic, Mr. Editor), fresh off his primary pratfall, postulates the NFL is working in cahoots with the Biden Administration for a spectacularly scripted GOTV moment: “I wonder who’s going to win the Super Bowl next month. And I wonder if there’s a major presidential endorsement coming from an artificially culturally propped-up couple this fall.” He’s just asking questions, folks!

There is a grain of truth to Vivek’s conjecture—and not the obvious fact the refs are extra differential to Patrick Mahomes. The New York Times reports the Biden campaign is trying to recruit Taylor for a very public, very loud, and very TikTok-able of the President. Should that happen, and Taylor drops some cringe ditty about having a ballot “Blank Space” to write Biden’s name, Republicans may lose female millennials and zoomers—an overwhelmingly blue demo, and I’m not referring to the feeling they ingest gobs of SSRIs to block out.

Should Trump fear the Swiftie swarm? Mary Harrington contends Taylor embodies the “collective female unconscious,” and holds more sway among distaff voters than most starlets. She could draw a few thousand more votes to Biden in the swing-state suburbs Trump needs to win.

Then again, Democrats have long been the tabloid party. That hasn’t changed. What has changed is the face of the Republican Party—a ubiquitous peached mien. Despite leaving the White House with his tail between his legs three years ago, Donald Trump seems to be a more popular—that is, well known—presence than ever. His sui generis expressions are now common meme fodder. DC street hawkers never stopped selling bootleg MAGA hats. His continued court appearances make him a nightly news constant. And he’s easily running away with the GOP primary without competing.

Republicans are already fighting A-list fire with A-list fire. Celebrity civic showdowns aren’t John Adams versus Thomas Jefferson, but they’re democratic, or as democratic as the broadsheets lining grocery store tills.

The right shouldn’t worry about a Chiefs-win-”Traylor”-engagement-Biden-backing bonanza in Las Vegas, although a few pass interference calls against San Francisco in the fourth quarter are a given. (Excuse me: putting in my FanDuel parlay now.) Fawning celebrity coverage can elicit its own mass backlash.

Finally, if Taylor Swift truly is a psyop, then Iraq would be a functioning liberal democracy.

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Free the People publishes opinion-based articles from contributing writers. The opinions and ideas expressed do not always reflect the opinions and ideas that Free the People endorses. We believe in free speech, and in providing a platform for open dialog. Feel free to leave a comment!

Taylor Lewis

Taylor Lewis writes from Virginia.

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