While I was writing about the travails of online dating for conservatives, one stat stood out: “Looking at the 2022 midterm election exit polls, married women voted 56-42 for Republicans, while unmarried women voted 68-31 for Democrats—that’s a whopping 51-percentage-point difference! (There was a much smaller 13-point swing among men.)”
That’s why Taylor Swift is one of the biggest threats to conservatism today.
You don’t have to listen or even like Taylor Swift to stand in awe of her accomplishments.
Two-time Time Magazine “person of the year”
Eleven number one songs on Billboard’s Hot 100
Only female artist to replace herself at number one on the Hot 100 … twice
Forty-nine top 10 hits on the Hot 100
Two-hundred-thirty-two songs total on the Hot 100 (how?)
With her album “Midnights,” she held all top 10 spots on the Hot 100 in a single week (a first)
Only female artist with three number one albums on the Billboard 200 in a calendar year … twice
Thirteen number one albums on the Billboard 200, a record by a female artist
Sixty-six total weeks at number one on the Billboard 200, third overall behind the Beatles (132 weeks) and Elvis (67 weeks). Swift is only 34 years old. She’s going to eventually hold this record
Twelve Grammy wins
Her six Grammy nominations for “album of the year” tie her with Barbra Streisand for most ever for a female artist
Her seven Grammy nominations for “song of the year” are the most ever for any artist
Net worth: $1.1 billion (all of it self-made)
First female artist to reach 100 million monthly listeners on Spotify
Most streamed female artist on Apple Music
Fifty-six million followers on YouTube
Two-hundred-seventy-nine million followers on Instagram
And all that before we even get to her current Eras Tour, where her earnings are expected to be around $4.1 billion, with an economic impact of another $5.7 billion to the U.S. economy. Seriously, it goes on and on. Swift is easily the most successful female recording artist in history, and it’s not even close.
And she’s not just political, but she’s a liberal—and increasingly partisan one at that.
There are several major factors that affect whether someone is a Democrat or Republican, according to 2020 exit polls.
Education: The more educated a voter is, the more liberal a voter is. College graduates chose President Joe Biden 55-43, while those without college opted for Donald Trump 50-48.
Race: White people voted for Trump 58-41. Black voters chose Biden 87-12, while more than 60% of both Latinos and Asians opted for Biden.
Education and race: Tie those two together and the differences become more stark. Among white voters with college degrees, Biden won 51-48, while Trump won 67-32 among white voters without college degrees.
Gender: Trump won men 53-45, while Biden won women 57-42.
Age: Biden won voters ages 18-44 56-42, while Trump won everyone older than that 51-48.
It’s clear why Republicans attack higher education and why they seek to disenfranchise younger voters and voters of color. It explains much of their virulent misogyny. Throw in the marriage numbers from the top of the story, and the ideal Republican voter is a white, married male with no college education. And their biggest nemesis? A single, college-educated young woman.
And who does Swift speak to? Young, single women. And what does she preach? Personal empowerment and political participation.
In her song “Only the Young,” she preaches the gospel of political activism.
So every day now You brace for the sound You've only heard on TV You go to class, scared Wondering where the best hiding spot would be And the big bad man and his big bad clan Their hands are stained with red Oh, how quickly, they forget
They aren't gonna help us Too busy helping themselves They aren't gonna change this We gotta do it ourselves They think that it's over But it's just begun
She has been cutting on the double standard she faces as a woman. This is from her song “The Man”:
I would be complex, I would be cool They'd say I played the field before I found someone to commit to And that would be okay for me to do Every conquest I had made would make me more of a boss to you
I'd be a fearless leader I'd be an alpha type When everyone believes ya What's that like?
I'm so sick of running as fast as I can Wondering if I'd get there quicker if I was a man And I'm so sick of them coming at me again 'Cause if I was a man, then I'd be the man I'd be the man I'd be the man
They'd say I hustled, put in the work They wouldn't shake their heads and question how much of this I deserve What I was wearing, if I was rude Could all be separated from my good ideas and power moves
And they would toast to me, oh, let the players play I'd be just like Leo in Saint-Tropez
And … how about this diss on marriage, from her song “Midnight Rain”?
I was midnight rain He wanted it comfortable I wanted that pain He wanted a bride I was making my own name Chasing that fame He stayed the same All of me changed Like midnight
Indeed, her message of female empowerment and strong personal identity is exactly what Republicans fear the most. What happens if more women stand strong, get educated, carve out their own careers, and either put off marriage or skip it entirely? And given the historically low turnout rates among young voters, what if she gets her legions of fans to register and vote?
In one of her first forays into political activism, she went after Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn in 2018. She has publicly called Donald Trump an autocrat and advocated for his defeat in 2020. And a single Instagram post in September drove tens of thousands of her fans to a voter registration website. And on Election Day 2022, she publicly encouraged her fans to vote. It really does feel like she’s just getting started, and conservatives are terrified.
Following her second Time “person of the year” cover, the right erupted in hysterical outrage. Conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer ranted about Swift being in cahoots with liberal donor George Soros, claiming her efforts to register young voters were meant to “interfere” in the 2024 elections. Jack Posobiec of PizzaGate fame claimed that the “Taylor Swift girlboss psyop” had been “fully activated” for her “upcoming 2024 voter operation for Democrats on abortion rights.”
In another post following the Republican losses this November, he lamented: “Republicans still haven't internalized that the Left promotes abortion as a pro-feminism issue. They aren't voting to kill babies, they're voting bc of feminist movies like Barbie and pop stars like Taylor Swift influencing an army of voters.” In a follow-up tweet, he screamed in all-caps, “BREAKING: THE CHILDLESS, UNMARRIED ABORTION ARMY MOBILIZED BY BARBIE, TAYLOR SWIFT, AND TIKTOK THAT IS CRUSHING REPUBLICANS AT THE BALLOT BOX.”
Childless. Unmarried. You get the point. Conservative radio host Charlie Kirk had a similar message: “Taylor Swift is going to come out in the presidential election and she is going to mobilize her fans. … And we're going to be like, 'Oh wow, where did all these young, female voters come from?’”
The Federalist, a conservative rag, published a story in September titled “Taylor Swift’s Popularity Is A Sign Of Societal Decline.” The problem with her according to this article? You’ll love this:
I still stand by the fact it’s a mistake to read too much in the way of politics or feminism into Swift’s appeal, but given her popularity in the face of this lyrical obsession, it’s a chicken-or-egg-first proposition about whether the cultural avatar of millennial females is famous for being near constantly romantically aggrieved even as TikTok is full of videos of women insisting, “No really, it’s great being 29 and unmarried and childless, I don’t want that at all, I get to sleep in on weekends and learn to make shakshuka, this is the most fulfilling life I can conceive of, I’M HAPPY WHY WON’T ANYONE BELIEVE ME?!”
She’s encouraging women not to get married.
The link inside that blockquote is to a Matt Walsh tweet where he proclaims that a woman posting about how happy she is being single was a problem: “Her life doesn’t revolve around her family and kids so instead it revolves around TV shows and pop stars. Worst of all she’s too stupid to realize how depressing this is.” That is some breathtaking man-splainin’ arrogance, telling a woman how she should live her life, lest it seem to men like him to be “depressing.” Another conservative on Twitter cried, “It’s shameful and sad that a hyper-promiscuous, childless woman (Taylor Swift), aging and alone with a cat, has become the heroine of a feminist age.”
In case it’s not clear, “promiscuous” is another word for “unmarried” since these neanderthals have decreed that sex is bad outside the confines of that traditional institution. It really does bring home her lyrics in “The Man”: how if she were male, she’d “be just like Leo[nardo DeCaprio] in Saint-Tropez,” cavorting with women half his age and younger.
In any case, the Swifties—Swift’s hardcore fan base—are very aware of the right-wing backlash and are extremely defensive of her. The more right-wingers go after her, the more likely her fans are to heed her calls for voter registration and participation. The GOP’s war on democracy and personal liberties (and in particular, abortion and contraception) provides ample motivation to further motivate them.
It’s easy to imagine Swift turning up her activism as we approach next year’s election. Looking at her upcoming tour schedule, she is touring most of the year. But check this out: She has a gap in her tour schedule between Aug. 20 and Oct. 18. The Democratic National Convention will run Aug. 19-22. Would be something to have her play and speak on the final day of the convention.
Then, when she returns to touring in October, her dates on the 18th, 19th, and 20th will be in Florida, where Dems will be fighting to pick up a Senate seat (and who knows, maybe Florida will decide to cooperate next year and be competitive).
Then she’ll be off between Nov. 4-13. Election Day will be Nov. 5.
There’s plenty of time for her to amp up her political activism, registering millions of otherwise inactive voters and ensuring they turn out and vote. And Republicans, by hysterically attacking Swift’s very existence, could very well motivate her to do so. Or maybe she doesn’t need that motivation. Trump and his party are scary enough on their own.