Taylor Swift doesn’t know what she’s talking about.
That line was tossed around a lot on Monday following an Instagram post from Swift in which she encouraged her followers to register to vote and to vote for the Democratic U.S. Senate and House candidates in Tennessee.
Within minutes, the chorus of rightwing water-toters was full throat, denouncing Swift’s music and her fans and her reach. But mostly, they proclaimed emphatically that Taylor Swift simply doesn’t know what she’s talking about.
You know, because she’s a ditzy girl who only puts together song lyrics and writes music that have sold over 130 million singles worldwide and organizes stadium shows that rake in hundreds of millions of dollars and revamp the way the music industry sells its live shows. But, yeah, politics is waaaayyyy too complicated for her tiny girl brain. Louie Gohmert and Steve King have managed to thrive, but not the self-made multi-billionaire.
That was the message from Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee on Monday. Huckabee, who once had a little jam session with Ted Nugent, who so totally knows about politics because he is a white male who hates Obama, managed to criticize both Swift’s intelligence and her reach. Huckabee claimed Swift could reach only 13-year-old girls.
Swift’s two most recent singles have been streamed more than 600 million times on Spotify alone. Either there are way more 13-year-old girls than I thought, or maybe her reach is a tad broader.
The girls who were 13 when Swift wrote the song “Fifteen” are now 23. And some of them probably make up the 113 million who follow her on Instagram. Some might be part of the 85 million who follow her on Twitter. (That’s about 30 million more than Trump, by the way.)
But here’s what makes this whole thing more absurd: Swift seemed to know exactly what she was talking about.
In encouraging her fans to vote against Marsha Blackburn, Swift didn’t go generic. She didn’t do general. She cited Blackburn’s actual voting record in Congress, when Blackburn failed to support the Violence Against Women Act and voted against equal pay for women.
As Swift noted, Blackburn has stated frequently that she is opposed to same-sex marriage and has voted consistently to allow businesses the right to refuse gay customers.
So, what, exactly, is Swift wrong about?
The problem here is that Swift is too right. Too plain spoken. Too accurate.
Today’s GOP has spent a lot of time and effort shaping its embrace of hate. They’ve worked out the right buzzwords, come up with just the right circumstances to justify it and pushed all the appropriate Bible verses to back themselves up.
And in one brief Instagram post, Swift blew it up.
Don’t get me wrong, what she wrote wasn’t original, and it’s been said thousands of times by now.
But not by her. Not to her fans. Not in that way.
In an instant, the charade of “religious freedom” was recast as “the right to deny service to gay couples.”
And millions of young men and women now know that Blackburn, a woman, voted against legislation that would have protected women from date rape, domestic abuse and harassment.
Truth is a nightmare for Republicans.
And so, naturally, not long after Swift’s post went up, the hate began. And the outcry was a common one — at least to me: Get out!
Get out of Tennessee. Get out of the South. Go somewhere where your views are more acceptable.
I get similar suggestions frequently. In emails and comments after my columns, I inevitably get told I should move to California or New York, where my “liberal views” would be more welcome.
I’m assuming she would answer the same as me: No.
We’re not asking you bunch of backwoods Bible-thumping racists to give up college football or white gravy. We’re asking you to be decent humans to other humans, and to also vote for your own interests. Those aren’t terribly hard or uncomfortable things for you to do.
And if the way you’ve been voting makes you so terribly uncomfortable that you have to boycott the entire entertainment industry — including soft-spoken, doe-eyed Taylor Swift — maybe you should question a few things.