I understand how America’s Republican teens will be feeling this morning, which is to say very hurt indeed. Taylor Swift has revealed herself to be a Democrat and the news will take some getting over. For years the singer had been the slam dunk winner in any argument about the impossibility of being both culturally relevant and right-leaning in modern America. Yes, the Dems have pretty much every star of stage and screen behind their cause, but the right had Swift, the biggest star on the planet, the ace in the pack, on theirs. Take that, libs!
Why did the right think Swift was on their side? Well, because back in the mists of time (2008), on a website called MySpace, 18-year old Swift wrote ‘Republicans do it better’. In what context she wrote these words, no one any longer knows or seems to care – she might have been discussing auto-erotic asphyxiation or the practice of tar and feathering black people. But since that post, the singer has maintained a dignified (and it now appears, completely misleading) silence on the subject of her politics. And because all Democrat-minded celebrities, by means of furious virtue signalling, have ensured their political sympathies are visible from outer space, Republicans took Swift’s silence to mean one thing and one thing only: she was one of them.
But now this. Over the weekend, out of nowhere, Swift told her 112 million Instagram followers that in the coming midterm elections: ‘I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for the Senate and Jim Cooper for the House of Representatives’. Bredesen and Cooper are Democrats. The news, it hardly needs be stated, is a hammer-blow for Republican Swift fans the length and breadth of America.
I say I understand the pain these people will now be feeling because Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke, four seconds after meeting me, once told me with real feeling to go and fuck myself. Until that point he was a man I admired tremendously and upon whom I’d been very much hoping to make a good impression. As a result of his outburst – and despite repeatedly trying to – I haven’t since really been able to enjoy his music. I can’t hear it without feeling again a little of the hurt and surprise I felt at the time. This, I am sure, will be how Republican Swift fans will now feel every time Shake It Off’ is played. They’ll experience the same sense of betrayal. The same bewilderment and the same sadness.
But it could be, of course, that Swift’s nailing of her Democrat colours to the mast has nothing whatsoever to do with Washington politics but is instead the latest chapter of her vicious conflict with the hated West-Kardashians, who combine through marriage to form her nemesis. As the rapper Kanye West daringly (or insanely, depending on the charity of your disposition) flirts ever more heavily with Trump’s base – he’s taken to performing in MAGA caps – Swift may well feel she has spied an opportunity to do the old switcheroo on him. By suddenly claiming to be a Democrat, she leaves West out on a limb, exposed, especially if he believed – on the basis of her enduring popularity – the right could be lucrative soil for an entertainer.
If this is the case, then her weekend Instagram post can be read as a kind of very high level ‘you can’t sit with me’ moment by America’s prom queen in chief to West. As a result of it, the liberal media can now get properly stuck into him as an artistic sell out/fascist without the difficulty of having in the same articles to reconcile Swift’s mega-stardom. At a stroke she is no longer perceived to be on the same side of the political spectrum. ‘I can make all the tables turn’, she once sang memorably. On this evidence, you’d better believe it.
If this is what she’s done, then clearly she’s an excellent political operator. Swift for President? It wouldn’t be an article about politics and celebrity if I didn’t at least suggest it. Maybe, just maybe, we’ve finally found the Democrat to take on Trump.