One of the things I’ve always admired about singer-songwriter Taylor Swift is that, despite the ever-present burning political opinions in the entertainment industry, she has always kept her beliefs to herself. Who she voted for in elections was her business, and who her fans voted for was theirs. I found it refreshing that she never pushed her political opinions on to anyone.
So when I got the alert from my news app saying that she had “supported Tennessee Democrats in a rare political statement,” I was initially a bit upset. Great, Taylor Swift finally succumbed to Hollywood’s “my-opinion-is-the-only-one-that-matters” syndrome.
When I actually took the time to read the Instagram post in which she broke her political silence, I regained my lost respect for her. The post started with a mature explanation of her social values, after which she explained that Marsha Blackburn, the Republican Senate candidate for Tennessee, has expressed beliefs, shown through her stances on various issues, that the singer doesn’t agree with. For this reason, Swift explained, she would not vote for Blackburn in the upcoming election. She ended the statement with a call to vote, but not necessarily against Blackburn.
“Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values,” she wrote. “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.”
She didn’t say to vote for Blackburn’s opponent, nor did she claim that a failure to do so would reflect negatively on one’s character. She simply stated her decision for her vote and the reasoning behind it, asking her audience to use their knowledge and reasoning to make a decision for theirs.
It was really refreshing.
Political conversation is very important to our society. It exposes voters to new opinions and helps them mold their own. The problem is that these conversations, especially the ones publicized by celebrities, often devolve into screaming and fighting in which people are attacking others for their beliefs rather than simply offering an alternative opinion. All this accomplishes is making each side more entrenched in their current opinion and more hostile towards those that oppose it.
Such rhetoric was painfully common during the election of 2016, a lot of it stemming from the two candidates themselves. Hillary Clinton famously referred to half of Donald Trump’s supporters as a “basket of deplorables,” and Trump firmly established himself as the quintessential online bully with a new insult for every person that publicly disagreed with him.
This fostered a sense of aggression between their followers, creating a situation where many people failed to consider the other side’s policies or beliefs and only saw Democrat and Republican. The “if you’re not with me, then you’re either stupid or evil” mentality has blocked a lot of potentially meaningful dialogue.
Taylor Swift may have voiced her opinion, but she made it very clear that it was her opinion. She wanted people to know who she would be voting for and why, but she wasn’t trying to bully them into sharing that opinion. All she did was start a conversation.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the rest of our political discourse could follow that model?
Information for this article came from CNN