Well, look who finally acknowledged that there’s an election.
Yep, Beyoncé gave her #ImWithHer speech. Madonna performed her last-minute Hillary concert in New York’s Washington Square Park. J. Lo brought Clinton onstage at a concert. Lady Gaga donned the Michael Jackson jacket to make her final pleas, the Boss rocked his rallies, and Katy Perry basically hasn't stopped singing.
All of the music industry’s biggest stars have spent the last week in a veritable musical blitz for Hillary Clinton. But all anyone wants to know is who Taylor Swift voted for.
“Who is Taylor Swift voting for?” has been the top celebrity-related election search query this campaign season. As of an Instagram the “Shake It Off” singer posted at 12 pm ET, she has officially voted.
And, thanks to her cheese-stands-alone silence about the 2016 election, perhaps making her the only major musician not to take a stance, we still have no idea for whom.
Does it matter that Taylor Swift hasn’t endorsed a candidate? Dear god no. At least not practically.
But, hey, we’re a nation—or at least a media—so fixated on celebrity endorsements that we’ve resorted to asking a football player’s model wife to clarify who he is supporting. And of these endorsements, there is not one we have demanded, apparently, more than Taylor Swift’s. Google says so!
Beyoncé makes an impassioned stump, citizen to citizens and mother to mothers, for Clinton. Oprah Winfrey gives the most bullshit-free endorsement of a political candidate we have perhaps ever heard: “You don’t have to like her.” And still—still—we won’t rest until we learn who the 2011 People’s Choice Award winner for Favorite Country Artist is leaning toward.
Moreover, this an artist who built her career on oversharing about everything. Breakups turned into lyrics that turned into platinum records. Pool parties become photo shoots. Fledgling romances find themselves on the cover of Us Weekly. I even know the names of Taylor Swift’s two cats, Olivia and Meredith, god help me, and I have less than a fleeting interest in this woman’s life and generally hate cats.
She certainly hasn’t held her tongue when it comes to feminism, making broad generalizations about women supporting women that have gotten her into as much trouble as it has earned her feminist cred. But what of Hillary Clinton? Does she support her? Especially after Trump’s misogynistic, demeaning statements about grabbing pussies—and we’re not talking Olivia and Meredith.
Taylor Swift is literally the only person in the entertainment industry for whom that answer is a mystery. And you know what? That’s bullshit.
If I have to sit through three dozen photos of Swift and her leggy friends posing with American flags in a Rhode Island living room every Fourth of July, I should damn well at least know what kind of “patriotism” and values they are trading in for Instagram likes with stars and stripes draped over their bony shoulders.
And so here we are on Election Day, with Taylor, Ms. Swift if you’re nasty—and maybe she isn’t, who knows?!—betraying her own album’s mandate: Speak Now.
Let’s take a step back and give her credit: Taylor Swift voted. That’s wonderful. Good job, Taylor Swift! Genuinely! Big hugs to everyone that voted. And, sharing her selfie from the polling place, she encouraged all her fans to vote. That’s wonderful.
She has pull, and she is using it to get out the vote. Theoretically, we should maybe even be glad that she’s not attempting to sway anyone’s opinions. She is telling you to vote, but not for whom. She stands alone, in that regard, among celebrities. There’s argument, too, that she stands taller because of that.
That argument, however, does not exist on Twitter, which is dragging her to Hades for having voted and not publicly supported a candidate. (Specifically, publicly supported a woman, Hillary Clinton—which is flawed logic, but the 140-character logic happening right now nonetheless.)
The best thing and the worst thing about the internet is that keen-eyed observers can turn anything into a conspiracy theory. For example, the theory that Swift told us that she voted for Clinton with the black sweater she wore at the polls. The shoulderless black turtleneck, Racked points out, could be a nod to the one wore by Clinton in a photo that Instagrammed by Lena Dunham? Or something?
It’s nonsense. But also what if it’s true?
More likely, however, is the widely peddled theory that Swift hasn’t spoken out because of some noble discomfort, like the one she expressed in 2012, with telling people how to vote. The longer she stayed silent, the longer the assumption grew that she supports Donald Trump—or at least the Republican ticket he is the face of—and was keeping the allegiance close to the vest in order to not alienate her fans or set ablaze the inevitable media inferno that would ensue should it be known that she supports Trump.
Of course, that logic applies to a conflicting theory: that Swift supports Clinton but doesn’t want to anger her conservative fans. The Daily Beast’s Asawin Suebsaeng abides by this, insisting that Swift is center-left on the political spectrum, using her eventual support for Barack and especially Michelle Obama as evidence, but there are thinly sourced reports that she once wrote “Republicans do it better” on her MySpace.
May we all be freed from assumptions made based on what we wrote on our MySpaces.
The moral of both these theories is that Swift doesn’t deem the risk of losing fans based on her political leanings worth becoming overtly political for. Which is kind of opportunistic, but also completely fair, especially if—and imagine this!—she doesn’t passionately feel one way or the other.
Celebrity endorsements are weird. Everyone rolls their eyes at them. Studies have shown that they can hurt a candidate as often as they can help them. Even Beyoncé and Jay Z’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton proved controversial, with critics blasting Clinton for accepting the support of artists who use expletives in their lyrics. But when so many issues are at stake and an army of millennials—or younger—keep an ear to Swift’s speakerphone, there’s an undeniable frustration that she hasn’t taken the opportunity to educate and motivate.
Swift voted in Tennessee, which is expected to go Trump. Does she, like her fellow statesmen, want to Make America Great Again? Does she, to paraphrase her infamous attack on Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, think there’s a special place in hell for women who are suspicious about their emails? DID SHE VOTE FOR JILL STEIN?
Today, one long national nightmare will end. But the other—the saga’s of Taylor Swift’s vote—may haunt us forever.