Did Taylor Swift see A Star is Born over the weekend? I'll explain the thinking behind that question in a moment, but first some background.
Taylor posted a lengthy Instagram message on Sunday night, talking about who she supports and cannot support in the upcoming Tennessee elections (where she's a registered voter). It's significant because Taylor has always played it close to the vest when it comes to politics. Yes, Taylor had the most liked Instagram post on Election Day 2016, but she didn't let anyone know if she was supporting Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.
Fast forward two years, and Taylor has made it perfectly clear who she will support in the midterm elections. Both are Democrats, but that's almost beside the point. Because in explaining the reasoning behind her vote, Taylor didn't push anyone to vote a certain way. She thoughtfully and respectfully asked her 112 million Instagram followers to "educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values."
Vote for the candidates who reflect your values, but just vote!
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I’m writing this post about the upcoming midterm elections on November 6th, in which I’ll be voting in the state of Tennessee. In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now. I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country. I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent. I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love. Running for Senate in the state of Tennessee is a woman named Marsha Blackburn. As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives. Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values. 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. So many intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people have turned 18 in the past two years and now have the right and privilege to make their vote count. But first you need to register, which is quick and easy to do. October 9th is the LAST DAY to register to vote in the state of TN. Go to vote.org and you can find all the info. Happy Voting! 🗳😃🌈
Which brings us back to A Star is Born (and a very minor spoiler alert). The new movie has a subtext throughout about finding one's own voice -- both on screen and off. For Bradley Cooper the actor, he was finding his voice as a singer. For Lady Gaga the singer, as an actor. And in the movie itself, Jackson (Bradley Cooper) tells Ally (Lady Gaga) that talent doesn't matter if you don't use it "to say something—anything—as long as it’s their truth."
It feels a lot like that's what Taylor Swift is doing here, and it's why I'm wondering if her Instagram post was inspired by A Star is Born. Her songwriting has always been personal, about love and life. But she has always avoided the controversial and has largely kept her fame separate from the reality of American life today. But on Sunday night, that changed. We now know she's thought a lot about the direction of our nation. And whether or not you agree with Taylor's upcoming votes in the midterm election, she expressed her views in the most Taylor Swift way possible. She explained her own thinking, without asking others to follow her. She only asked for people to care enough about it to get educated on the issues, to get registered on time, and to vote their conscience.
That's her truth.
Taylor Swift is finding a bigger voice, while asking others to do the same. It's a message that says it should be okay for people to have an opinion and engage in debate, and still respect each other at the end of the day. In today's hyper-polarized America, that may be the exact message we need to hear.
I hope people are listening.