How conservatives talk about Taylor Swift says more about us than her.
By Liliana Zylstra
Taylor Swift’s massive success as a musical artist and cultural sensation has made her once again a topic of political discussion. But the conversation about Swift isn’t really about her. Instead, it demonstrates how badly conservatives often fail to engage with the culture.
Like many celebrities, Taylor Swift has endorsed Democratic candidates before. Some are speculating that she plans to endorse Joe Biden, further speculating that this could have a significant impact on the 2024 election. While some fans clearly view Swift as a role model, many conservatives continue to treat her as a villain who represents everything wrong with the culture. Not only is this narrative inaccurate, but it also obstructs more meaningful conversations about cultural and political problems.
To date, Swift still has not issued an endorsement nor made any statement about the 2024 election. Yet, some voices on the right have chosen to declare war against her, calling her a “government psyop” and speculating that her relationship with NFL player Travis Kelce is part of an elaborate scheme to benefit both the Kansas City Chiefs and the Democrat Party. Former presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy called Swift and Kelce an “artificially culturally propped-up couple.”
Conservatives’ love of criticizing Taylor Swift isn’t new. Consider this tweet from conservative commentator Abby Roth:
“Can we all recognize that Taylor Swift is old? 34. Never married. Never had kids. Still singing about broken hearts and dating. If you’re coming home to an empty apartment at the end of the day, you can’t convince me that money and fame alone are the recipe for success.”
Or this comment from Twitter personality Eric Conn:
“It’s shameful and sad that a hyper-promiscuous, childless woman (Taylor Swift), aging and alone with a cat, has become the heroine of a feminist age.”
A Better Response
The problem with Swift’s critics is that they can’t seem to understand her cultural influence as legitimate. Instead of recognizing the talent and widespread appeal that makes her successful, they construct a narrative where she represents an evil liberal agenda and only holds influence because of this agenda. That’s what makes them fixate on Swift’s status as an unmarried and childless woman. It’s also why they see her relationship with Travis Kelce as a conspiratorial power grab rather than a real relationship. In comparison to other popular musical artists and celebrities, Swift’s brand is far more wholesome. Yet, to some conservatives, she might as well be singing about bringing down Western Civilization.
As conservatives rightly recognize, modern feminism and the left have contributed to many deep-rooted problems, such as the deterioration of relationships between men and women and the abandonment of family values. Responding to these problems requires careful and accurate diagnosis. For example, a rise in singleness and childlessness may be a symptom of cultural issues, not its cause. Condemning single and childless women doesn’t make conservative values appealing to them. Picking apart the private lives of celebrities isn’t a replacement for making persuasive arguments.
Swift’s widespread success means that she has influence over millions of young, female voters. If conservatives want someone to blame for our problems, she’s a convenient choice. But she’s also a terrible person to make an enemy of. We can’t ignore the obvious fact that her music communicates in a way that resonates with an audience that conservatives need to reach. If we want to promote our values, we can’t heap unearned blame on a public figure admired by millions of the very people we want to win to our side.
About the Author
Liliana Zylstra is a junior communication arts major at Grove City College. In addition to working as a student marketing fellow, she serves as president of the school’s Life Advocates club. Lily has canvassed for pro-life candidates and legislation in 5 different states as part of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America’s student program. She also completed an internship with SBA’s communication department in Washington, D.C., during the summer of 2023.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are those of the writer alone and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grove City College, the Institute for Faith and Freedom, or their affiliates.