In November 2018, Taylor Swift broke her long-standing political silence via an Instagram post. The global superstar spoke out in support of two democratic candidates running to represent her home 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,” Swift wrote in part.
Although the content of this post was less than controversial, chaos erupted soon after Swift’s post went public.
Upset Twitter users suggested Swift stick to music and some felt it was not her place, as a celebrity, to publicly speak on politics at all. This sparked debate regarding whether or not entertainment stars should voice their political beliefs online.
There is no denying that when highly influential celebrities like Swift speak about politics, they have the power to sway their young and impressionable audiences.
However, celebrities can be a positive influence when they choose to use their platforms to educate followers about relevant political topics.
Many argue these statements are manipulative because celebrities are in positions of power. It is our responsibility to properly educate ourselves on these topics and form our own opinions. Public figures cannot force us to vote for a certain candidate or alter our political beliefs.
It is refreshing to see celebrities use their influence to educate their large followings. Influencers helped their young audiences craft their own opinions within this confusing and chaotic political climate.
There is proof these efforts can have a positive impact.
Swift’s viral Instagram caption seemed to have caused an increase in voter registration in the days following the incident, as reported in a CNN article.
Kamari Guthrie, director of communications for the nonprofit Vote.org, spoke on the possible correlation between the simple Instagram caption and the surge in voter registration.
“We are up to 65,000 registrations in a single 24-hour period since [Swift’s] post,” Guthrie told CNN.
Swift, among other notoriously neutral public figures, chose to finally break her political silence and used her influence for good. This is not an abuse of power.
Celebrities do not have to silence themselves to make you comfortable.