//PICTURED ABOVE: Taking a Stance: On Oct. 7, Taylor swift publicly endorsement Democratic nominees for Congress in the state of Tennessee. Nowadays, this is not unusual, as public figures constantly back political candidates in an attempt to get people to align with their views. Illustration by Simon Hunter.
On Oct. 7, 2018, Taylor Swift threw the nation for a loop as she exposed a part of her life that she had managed to keep secret for twelve-odd-something years: she broke her political neutrality and backed Democratic office nominees.
Swift publicized this knowledge via Instagram, allowing her 112 million followers—along with the rest of the world—to speculate on the statement. In her Instagram post, she not only endorsed Democratic nominees Phil Bredesen and Jim Cooper for the Senate and House of Representatives respectively, but very bluntly stated her disapproval of Marsha Blackburn, Republican nominee for Senate.
Swift wrote, “As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn,” then going on to specify all the ways in which Blackburn’s beliefs did not align with her own.
But Swift is not the first of celebrities to publicly endorse a candidate running in a political race. Nowadays, it is very common for people of stature to make their political alignments known in an attempt to expand a certain candidate’s fan base. This can perhaps best be viewed in the 2016 presidential election, when public figures came out in support of presidential nominees left and right.
Now, I have no issue with people making their political beliefs known. However, celebrities are no ordinary people: their word wields a truly unmeasurable amount of influence that is hard to come across anywhere else. Therefore, if a celebrity comes out in favor or opposition of a certain candidate, it holds serious power.
Take Swift’s case, for instance. After making her endorsement, thousands of people ages 18 to 29 registered to vote, according to Vote. org. Some are viewing this as a ripple effect of her post, as the possibility that Swift’s message reached her young fan base looms large.
Clearly, Swift’s mere Instagram post inspired thousands—if not more—simply just to register to vote. Imagine the magnitude of the effect that might occur should her fans follow her instruction and vote blue in the upcoming Senate race.
However, there are some positive aspects of celebrity endorsements of political candidates. Because of their large fan bases, a celebrity’s opinion can often make a large impact in situations—especially those pertaining to political races. If the reports really are true, Swift’s public announcement has the potential to have serious impact in the upcoming Nov. 6 election. In this sense, the endorsements are good, as they prompt citizens to vote. In Swift’s case, a large percentage of her fan base is comprised of younger generations, therefore meaning that a whole new generation of voters has now made their voices heard who might not have otherwise bothered to vote.
The issue arises when uninformed voters blindly follow the actions of their celebrity idols. Our country functions on democratic principles, one of those being the ability to elect public officials to office. However, if fan bases of celebrities aimlessly vote based off of celebrities’ opinions, then their voice is essentially stripped away, and their opinion is not their own.
Our political system is structured like so in order for voters to form their own, unique opinions on matters concerning government. And thus they should.
Of course, there is no harm in being swayed to vote a certain way based off of a prominent individual’s endorsement. However, this should not be the end all be all. The second that voters stop informing themselves of the values and beliefs of the political nominees and instead start blindly supporting a candidate that their favorite Kardashian endorses is the second when celebrity involvement in politics will become more problematic than it already is.
Ultimately, it boils down to the fact that, if a celebrity wishes to make known their political views, no one is going to stop them. However, something to keep in mind is this: when choosing who to vote for, it is important that one truly understands the platform of the candidates and doesn’t depend simply on outside influence to dictate what to do. And please: don’t wait for Taylor Swift to tell you to get up off of the couch and vote to go do so.
Story by Charlotte Dross, Editor-in-Chief
Illustration by Simon Hunter