feature image via Taylor Swift’s Instagram.
Earlier this month, Taylor Swift took the Internet by storm when she broke her career-long political silence on Instagram.
“In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions,” Swift explained in her post, “but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now.” The events Swift references are undoubtedly her own highly publicized sexual assault trial, which contributed to her being named one of the silence breakers of the #MeToo movement by Time magazine, and the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court amidst mounting allegations against him of sexual assault and misconduct.
“I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG,” Swift added. “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.”
The pop star went on to encourage her followers to educate themselves on the issues and register to vote—a message that resonated in epic proportions. Forbes reported that 65,000 people registered to vote in the first 24 hours after Swift’s post went live; within 48 hours, that number had jumped to more than 240,000. (For reference, only 190,178 voters registered in the month of September, and only 56,669 registered in August.)
“HeadCount has tracked over 50,000 voter registrations coming directly from artists posting on social media in the last few years,” Andy Bernstein, executive director of voter registration nonprofit HeadCount, told CNBC. “It’s a proven method, and clearly Taylor Swift’s post made the biggest ripple ever.”
The power of Swift’s political voice seems just as strong as her musical voice, and it’s earning her similar acclaim. Celebrities like praised Swift for voicing her political opinions despite any damage that could come to her reputation.
“I’m just so dang happy that the world gave you time to learn (in your own way and at your own pace) how important it is for you to speak out and speak now,” entertainer Todrick Hall, known for his appearances on American Idol and RuPaul’s Drag Race, wrote on Instagram in response to Swift’s post. “This is a HUGE step for you and the world will be a better place if everyone votes for the human rights that we all deserve. “
Others, like To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before author Jenny Han, took a more comical approach to the situation.
In her own words: Call it what you want. What can’t be denied is that Taylor Swift finally speaking up—about feminist values in politics, no less!—has already had an outsized impact.
But Swift didn’t stop there.
Days after her viral Instagram post, Swift opened up the 46th Annual American Music Awards with a performance of “I Did Something Bad”—a nod, most likely, to some of the backlash she was receiving for her post. As Taylor sang “they’re burning all the witches, even if you aren’t one, so light me up,” former fans and parents of fans expressed their discontent with the singer’s political stance by setting CDs and merchandise on fire. Later in the evening, during her acceptance speech for Artist of the Year, Swift again encouraged people to vote.
“This award and every single award given out tonight were voted on by the people, and you know what else is voted on by the people is the midterm elections on November 6,” Swift declared on stage. “Get out and vote! I love you guys.”
Swift’s statements come weeks in advance of what are possibly the most important elections in a generation—and for young women, especially, in a lifetime. Her opinions also echo findings of a growing feminist discontent among young, female voters across racial lines—and the anger and frustration bubbling to the surface before the midterms in response to the hostile sexism women are encountering from White House, Congress and their own state capitols.
Young voters could play a decisive role in November’s election results—and registering to vote and showing up to the polls is the only way they can ensure these things will change.