It’s not yet February, and already we have a clear idea of what Joe Biden’s re-election will be all about: Donald Trump, abortion and, er, Taylor Swift.
The New York Times reported yesterday that Team Biden-Harris 2024 has made recruiting Taylor Swift as one of its endorsers a top priority. This, inevitably, has triggered a media storm because Taylor Swift is now a culture-war avatar. She’s the new Meghan Markle when it comes to dividing opinion, although Swift is arguably more controversial because she was once a conservative darling and a hate figure among left-liberals. Today she’s the opposite.
The Guardian called Swift ‘an envoy for Trump’s values’
Right-wing social media warriors are now putting about the theory that Swift’s very public relationship with the Kansas City Chiefs tight-end Travis Kelce is a Democratic “op” intended to brainwash the gullible masses into voting against Donald Trump. Fox News had a debate on the question: “Is Taylor Swift a Pentagon asset?”
What strange times we live in. Swift used to be widely loathed by left-liberals — not for speaking out in favor of the Republican Party, but for keeping her opinions to herself. Her silence was violence.
In 2017, in an extraordinarily demented piece, the Guardian called her “an envoy for Trump’s values.” This wasn’t some outlandish contribution from a desperate columnist, but an editorial from the paper itself. “Swift’s songs echo Mr. Trump’s obsession with petty score-settling in their repeated references to her celebrity feuds,” it said. “The message is quintessentially Trumpian.”
But Swift changed — or “evolved,” as her legions of politically correct fans like to say — and has become the most celebrated woman on the planet. Today she supports the LGBTQ+ agenda; she said she was “terrified” by the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade; she posted a picture of herself with baked “Biden 2020” cookies; and she has spoken out against Trump — hence the Biden campaign’s eagerness to enlist her. California’s Governor Gavin Newsom, the man many people think might replace Joe Biden as the next Democratic president, has said Swift’s influence over the 2024 election could be “profoundly powerful.”
Swift was TIME magazine’s Person of the Year in 2023. Financial analysts talk about the “TSwift lift” that she has had on the post-Covid economy. Her Eras Tour generates more in revenue than the GDP of many countries. She’s not just a phenomenon; she’s almost a religion.
As the father to an eight-year-old girl, I’m well aware of Swift’s potency. But eight-year-old girls can’t vote and that’s probably for the best. A hastily commissioned poll suggests that one in five American voters could be swayed by Taylor Swift’s opinion on the election. But the same survey found that 17 percent of voters would be less likely to vote for a candidate backed by Swift. She therefore arguably repels almost as much as she attracts. In 2018, Swift’s public opposition to Marsha Blackburn in Tennessee didn’t stop Blackburn being elected as senator.
In 2016, an army of stars all but ordered their fans to vote for Hillary Clinton and look how that turned out. Jay-Z and Beyoncé held a special concert just days before the election, with Clinton in attendance, in Cleveland, Ohio — and Ohio duly ignored them elected Donald Trump.
Yes, there will be 8 million American Gen Zers who couldn’t vote in 2020 who will be eligible in 2024. That generation is possibly more swayed than their elders by TikTok, Instagram and the herd thinking of social media. But let’s not confuse likes for votes. Celebrity endorsements are a form of electoral fool’s gold and the fact that Taylor Swift is considered politically important speaks more to the silliness of our age than anything else.
This article was originally published on The Spectator’s UK website.