Dear Taylor,

I remember exactly where I was when I heard my first Taylor Swift song. It was 2006 and I was a young teen and I was in my mom’s car on the way home from school when your song, Tim McGraw, came on the radio. I instantly fell in love with the song. Then, I quickly purchased your debut album and memorized all the lyrics in record time. I stayed up to date with you by reading your MySpace blog and your vlog montages. About six months later, my mom surprised me with tickets to a Brad Paisley concert where you were the opening act. I was on cloud nine as I sang my heart out to all your songs.

From the first time I heard your songs, I found comfort in your lyrics and your music. I have turned to your music when I was happy, sad, angry, lonely, nostalgic and every mood in between as a young teen to a teenager to a collegiate to now a twenty something woman. 

I have been a fan and a fierce defender of yours for over 13 years now. My heart sank while watching the VMA’s in September 2009 when Kanye West stormed the stage and interrupted your acceptance speech. In 2014, I supported your transition from country music to pop music. I defended you when cancel culture came for you over the infamous Kim Kardashian/Kanye West drama happened in summer of 2016. And I support your fight for artists’ to own their own work.

You see, I’m not just a casual listener of your music when your songs come on the radio. I literally know every lyric of your entire discography. I’ve pre-ordered every single one of your albums and attended many of your concerts. I am what you might call a stan.

You could say that I’ve been absolutely in awe of your career and watching you go from bars to sold out stadiums. In a way, I’ve felt as though I’ve grown up alongside you. I have trusted you and your music like a friend. Your music has been a constant in my life for 13 years. With this open letter, I’ve been careful to not come across as if I’m shading, insulting or belittling you, but in hopes of sharing an important message with you. I hope you’ll hear me out.

For most of your career, you stayed apolitical. Although I assumed you leaned left as most celebrities do, I welcomed your apolitical outlook as it’s a rarity in this day and age and to be honest, it was a breath of fresh air.

In 2016, I heard many on the left claim that your silence was “deafening,” and that you were a secret Trump supporter simply because you didn’t publicly endorse a candidate in 2016. It almost felt like they were trying to guilt you into voicing your political opinions. And like all the other times before, I defended you. Like another writer on this site previously wrote, you don’t owe anyone your political opinions. Your brand has always been empowering, thoughtful, and positive and I felt it was a good move to stay out of the divisive political fray.

So in 2018, I was surprised when you made your first political endorsement for Democratic congressional and Senate candidates, but as a woman confident in her own political beliefs, I was proud of you finally being confident in yours — even if those beliefs differed from mine.

Before I continue, let me say, this is about so much more than your political beliefs. I couldn’t care less that you lean liberal. That’s absolutely your prerogative. I have both liberal family members and friends. Political beliefs have never affected my friendships and/or relationships negatively. I welcome dissent, disagreements, and debates. This article is not meant as a pity party because of your political beliefs. That is not what this letter is about. 

What happened after your endorsements is gave me pause. For starters, you liked an meme on Tumblr of you kicking Republicans. While this may seem like a joke, I know you know that people obsessively stalk your Tumblr likes. I’m embarrassed at how much seeing that affected me, but I felt like I had been punched in the stomach by an old friend. No matter the intentions, it was perceived as you kicking Republicans like me, a young woman who has stood by your side for years. For a fandom and an artist that constantly preaches tolerance of others, which is an idea I agree with as well, it felt pretty intolerant. In fact, it only further encouraged divisiveness.

Then, I heard rumblings that you would dive in politics on your new album, Lover. I hoped if you were tackle such a divisive topic, you’d do so with the upmost care and thoughtfulness that you’ve always done.

So, I listened to your political songs with an open mind. I hoped for the best, trusting the artist I’ve felt like I’ve been friends with for the past 13 years. I was pleasantly surprised when listening to the three so-called “political” tracks. You Need To Calm Down was relatable because in 2019, everyone needs to literally calm down, especially in the rise of cancel and outrage culture. As a young woman just entering the work force, I could also relate to the The Man on some level, plus the issue of sexism transcends party lines. The third political track, Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince, dives into American politics paralleled with a story about high school. As a politically minded individual, I picked up on the parallels on the first listen, but it was carefully crafted as a metaphor – in true Taylor fashion. The song has a great story so you can still jam to it without it feeling political. In fact, it’s one of my favorite songs on the album.

Then, as you promoted the release of Lover, you did a number of interviews with Vogue and The Guardian and discussed Trump and politics. I’ll be brutally honest and human for a second, I rolled my eyes at some of your comments as I’m sure you would probably roll your eyes at some of mine, but I recognize you’re entitled to your opinions as I’m entitled to mine. I would love to be able to sit down with a bottle of wine and talk about politics with you. I would argue we probably agree on a lot of things, but might differ on the avenues to get there.

You see, as you read in the title, I’m a Republican. I don’t define myself by my political affiliation and I don’t want it to ever become my whole identity. Yes, I *clutches pearls* voted for Trump and yes, I plan to vote for him again in 2020. That doesn’t mean I support everything he does or always love his communication styles. I’m not going to try to list my real, concrete reasons why I voted for President Trump. That’s not the point of this letter and this letter would triple in length. I am also not going to try prove to you that I’m a “good” Republican as many Democrats have told me as if I, as an entire individual, am reduced to a label that is merely a fraction of me.

Again, as a fellow woman, I am proud of your political awakening – even if I don’t always agree with you. I think it’s important for young women to be informed and be engaged in our political process. I respect you and understand your desire to advocate for issues that you’re passionate about. Do you respect that, as a fan, I have different beliefs than you? Or am I labeled problematic and pushed aside? Are we at a point in our political discourse that we can no longer celebrate diversity of thought? I’m going to be completely honest and tell you that nervous to know your answer to that.  Because I’m a Republican, am I unwelcome and deserted by an artist I’ve supported and trusted for years? I’m not less of a fan because of who’s name I check at the ballot box. Like you, I am passionate about issues that are important to me. I’m confident in my political beliefs. I will not abandon those beliefs no matter how shamed, silenced, belittled and pressured I am to vote for the Democratic party.

As you continue your political journey, I hope you will remember that you have fans who vote differently than you. And I hope you don’t let politics become your identity. I think you will remember that and I sincerely hope I am right.

The final words on your last track on Lover, Daylight (another favorite of mine), reads:

I wanna be defined by the things that I love
Not the things I hate
Not the things I’m afraid of, I’m afraid of
Or the things that haunt me in the middle of the night
I, I just think that
You are what you love

I hope you will continue to be defined by the things you love and promote what you love, instead of bashing what you hate. I hope you continue to be a source of positivity for your fans no matter their politics. And I hope you will urge your fans to not only vote, but to properly research the issues objectively. I hope you will encourage your fans to come to their own conclusion on where they stand on the political spectrum, not blindly support a candidate or party.

Lastly, Taylor, I also want to address why this article does not have my name on it. As a long time fan, I remember when the majority of your fandom was centered on our shared our mutual love for your music. Now, in 2019, I feel like some of it has turned into a dumpster fire that capitalizes on cancel culture to anyone who doesn’t pass their purity test of opinions. I find it ironic my fellow fans are so quick to cancel people after the cancel culture came for you in 2016. I often see tweets that read “when Taylor sees a Republican, she floors it” or jokes about you shooting a Republican at your Secret Sessions. The fandom has even come after your own father, simply because he shared political views on his personal Facebook and those views differed from theirs. While your entire fandom isn’t like this and you’re certainly not responsible for this kind of rhetoric, I didn’t put my name on this article out of pure fear that I would be attacked by the mob, but this message was too important for me not to share with you. It has weighed heavy on my heart as a fan of yours for over 13 years. I wanted to speak now – pun intended.

Congratulations on your success with Lover. It is incredible. I don’t know how you continue to top yourself, but you do.

Sincerely,

A Republican Fan

ANONYMOUS FFL TEAM MEMBER