Around 8 pm on October 7th, Taylor Swift made a post on Instagram about the Tennessee Senate race between Marsha Blackburn and Phil Bredesen. Since Swift is not known for making political statements (her silence is often a point of contention in the fanbase), this rocked the social media universe.

 

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I’m writing this post about the upcoming midterm elections on November 6th, in which I’ll be voting in the state of Tennessee. 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. 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. 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. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. 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. 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. So many intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people have turned 18 in the past two years and now have the right and privilege to make their vote count. But first you need to register, which is quick and easy to do. October 9th is the LAST DAY to register to vote in the state of TN. Go to vote.org and you can find all the info. Happy Voting! 🗳😃🌈

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In the first few sentences of her post, she acknowledges the fact that she’s “been reluctant to publicly voice [her] political opinions”, but “due to several events in [her] life and in the world in the past two years”, she felt like it was time to speak up. One of the events that she is probably referring to is her sexual assault trial in 2017, where David Mueller, a former DJ, filed a lawsuit against Swift for having him “wrongfully fired”. Swift contersued, arguing that Mueller had groped her during a meet and greet at once of her concerts. The high profile trial ended in U.S. District Judge William Martinez dismissing Mueller’s suit and ruled in Swift’s favor. Swift also makes an indirect mention of what is probably the #MeToo movement, which encourages women to speak up about sexual assault in their lives.

Swift goes on in her post to clarify her position on a number of social issues. She states that she has always and will continue to vote for candidates who “will protect and fight for the human rights [she] believe[s] we all deserve in this country”. She believes “in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG.”Swift also firmly believes that “systemic racism…is terrifying, sickening and prevalent”.

Swift then moves into talking about Marsha Blackburn, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Tennessee. Swift admits that she makes every effort to vote for women running for office, but that “[Marsha’s] voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies [her].” Swift references four specific stances that Marsha has taken: her vote against “equal pay for women”, her vote against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, her belief that “businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples”, and her belief that “[gay couples] should not have the right to marry”.

The equal pay comment most likely comes from Blackburn’s vote against the 2009 Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act of 2009. Blackburn explained her vote on Meet the Press: “I think that more important than that is making certain that women are recognized by their companies…I’ve always said that I didn’t want to be given a job because I was a female, I wanted it because I was the most well-qualified person for the job…”. Lindsey Grudnicki at National Review summarizes Blackburn’s position this way: “…she perceives a growing desire and motivation on the part of women to strive for the jobs and salaries they desire and deserve, without more government-mandated policies altering the workplace environment.”

Blackburn actually voted for the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2012, voted in favor of the House’s 2013 version of the reauthorization, but voted against the Senate’s version of the reauthorization in 2013. In an interview with MSNBC, she stated that she “didn’t like the way it was expanded to include other different groups. What you need is something that is focused specifically to help these shelters and to help our law enforcement who is trying to work with the crimes that have been committed against women…”  Blackburn also has a few comments on religious liberty, specifically this press release applauding the SCOTUS decision on the 2014 Hobby Lobby case. In an interview with The Tennessean, Blackburn said “People of faith should be free to practice their beliefs has guaranteed by our Constitution.” Blackburn also said that the SCOTUS’ 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges was “a disappointment. I have always supported traditional marriage…”

Swift’s statement caught everybody off guard. I am a fairly casual fan of Swift. I wanted to reach out to some other conservative Swifties for their take on the situation. Here’s a snippet of the conversations that I had:

Maggie from Illinois:

“I’m honestly a little disappointed that she decided to speak out about her political beliefs. One thing I really admired about her was the fact that she didn’t give in to the pressure from fans and the media to voice her political opinion. I admired the fact that she kept it to herself. The silver lining was that she ended the post with a message to encourage her fans to educate themselves on candidates running in their state and vote based on who most closely represents their values. I do worry that with her influence, fans will vote without researching the candidates themselves. I don’t care that she’s liberal- she can vote however she wants because it’s her right to do so.”

RELATED READ: Taylor Swift Doesn’t Owe You Her Political Opinions

Emily from Ohio:

“It’s a very conflicting feeling. Initially, Taylor’s statement didn’t upset me that much since she didn’t use “Republican” and “Democrat” or claim that one party was better than the other. I am disappointed that she would go as far as calling out a candidate and calling her voting record “terrifying”. I’m more upset that this has opened the door for many of her fans to now not be welcomed. In today’s political climate, both sides will take any opportunity to undercut the opposition. When the statement came out, I saw several fan account of Taylor’s and Joseph Kahn (Taylor’s music video director) talk about how she is rising to “destroy Republicans”. In addition to all of that, Taylor even liked a picture of her kicking someone with the word “Republican” labeled across them. This completely undermines her relatively non-partisan statement and turns it partisan, therefore directly insulting her Republican fans. It wasn’t needed and does nothing but hurt her fans. I miss the Taylor that didn’t owe her opinions to anyone. I support celebrities using their platforms for causes, but saying who you will vote for and using your fame to encourage others to vote for certain candidates is not a cause. While I admire Taylor for donating to countless organizations, I hate when celebrities directly endorse candidates.”

Merry Ashlyn from Tennessee:

“Even though I’ve always assumed Taylor leans liberal, I really hate that she finally decided to join the other Hollywood celebrities in denouncing Republicans. What shocked me the most was that she called out specific, local Tennessee candidates. For her first truly political post, I would have thought she would join the conversation surrounding national issues, but instead she posted to denounce Marsha Blackburn. As a Tennessean and a Marsha supporter, I’m both disappointed and a little confused. I fear that many young Tennessee voters will just take her word for it instead of doing the research themselves.”

As Maggie talked about, the silver lining in all of this is that Swift does encourage her fans to do their research before voting for candidates. Being an informed voter is the best kind you can be. Research your candidates’ voting history, but make sure you’re reading from a nonpartisan source. Each candidate has their talking points, but dig a little deeper to get the real story.

Jillian K
CABINET