I have a bone to pick with the American people. In a recent Instagram post, Taylor Swift decided to publicly endorse two male candidates running for Senate and Congress in her home state of Tennessee.

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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! ????????????

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As a direct result of her statement, voting registration numbers spiked- fast. According to Vote.org, her statement inspired 166,000 new registrees across the country. While I have always been an advocate for registering to vote and understanding the importance of voting, this bothered me because I find it disturbing that people don’t have the desire to vote without the endorsement of celebrities. If you vote, it matters. You have a voice; use it!

We live in a time where we cannot underestimate our voice. If Americans were as active in voting as they are at making statements on social media, things would be vastly different. We should take initiative because it’s the right thing to do. Taylor Swift’s Instagram post should not have been the catalyst to register 166,000 new voters, but it was, so I guess we should be grateful. It’s astounding to me that people don’t have the passion to take an active role in what they believe in without a celebrity doing it first.

Celebrities are people who have learned how to use their voices to make an impact, and I admire them for it. However, when celebrities speak out about politics they are criticized; they’re told to ‘stick to making movies’, as if my vote means more than theirs because I’m “in touch” with society; the common folk. Somehow, because I am an ‘average civilian’, I am considered to be more aware of the world around me.

Why does registering to vote have to be such a process?

Why is it that some people are listed as inactive voters despite being proactive each election season?

However, if ‘average civilians’ are deemed ‘in touch with society’, then how come Taylor Swift has to be the one to teach fans how to register to vote?

I don’t say that because she is an ‘out of touch’ celebrity. I say that because citizens shouldn’t opt out of voting because it’s a mild inconvenience or wait for the next celebrity to set the next voting trend. Voting isn’t trendy, it’s your duty.

Be on the right side of history, whatever that means to you.

The value in political celebrity outreach is increasing. There are many celebrities who have created inspiring and informative content. We don’t have to agree with the celebrities, but if celebrities are helping us start a conversation, why is it deemed as wrong?

It’s a conversation, nonetheless.

I didn’t mind that Taylor Swift endorsed candidates. In fact, I don’t take issue with celebrities getting involved in politics at all; I think it’s wonderful that they’re passionate about the state of our country. She outlined her reasons respectfully. She didn’t attack the other candidate for superficial reasons. She made policy a priority, which is admirable.She wanted to vote for the female candidate, but she did her research and they didn’t align with her views.

The same can be said about comedians, especially Late Night comics. Comedians, even political comedians, get shit all the time for being ‘too political’. But, that’s part of their job- to make comments on current events. If you look at the late night formula, the opening monologue has always summarized the events of that day.

Jimmy Kimmel isn’t doing anything revolutionary, he’s just sticking to the format.

When he speaks about the President, he’s criticized as if he is a politician. He knows that he is not a politician, but he is aware of his impact and has harnessed his influence. He knows that his monologue jokes are not considered ‘news’, yet the barometer is measured the same as our biggest news channels. It’s hypocritical that we hold comedians to these  same standards, but if any other type of celebrity tries to do the same, they’re deemed as ‘uninformed celebrities’.

Collectively, we should be more conscious of our political impact. Get your information from several different sources. It’s okay to look to celebrities for inspiration, but make sure that you are fighting for what YOU believe in.

 

Most importantly, VOTE.

 

If you are not registered to vote, need to know your status or polling location, be sure to check Vote.Org.

 

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

2 Replies to “Vote Because You Need To, Not Because Taylor Swift Told You To

  1. I wish more people would inform themselves about voting and politics just like some celebrities are doing. We should not expect them to inform us of policies or to be the only ones to use their influence. I didn’t realize how uninformed people were until the last presidential election or the lack of care they had about voting. I am glad that I am informed about policies and trying my best to inform others. Thank you for this post!

  2. Insightful post!
    I feel like it’s hard to strike a middle ground here. Though in theory it sucks that people are waiting for Taylor Swift to tell them to register, at least they are registering.
    Like people’s posts about helping the needy, sure posting this for attention is wrong but if it gets others involved than I feel like it is a net good.

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