Swift transcends politics, in other words—she has an undiluted influence that few cultural figures have in 2024. At the same time, that very flavor of influence, per the same March 2023 poll, which is uniquely strong among young people—millennials make up nearly half of her fan base—makes her particularly potent as a political player, especially during a year in which young voters are skeptical of Biden. More than three-quarters of her fans identify as Democrats or independents, suggesting the potential to turn out hundreds of thousands of voters. Plus, Swift’s fans are highly engaged. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing last year to investigate Live Nation Entertainment’s near monopoly over the ticketing industry, thanks in large part to an outcry from Swifties. No one speaks to more young women than Taylor Swift—which is exactly why the right is freaking out.
Swift’s hyperpopularity is interwoven with the current phase of what’s left of American monoculture: the year of the girl. When the right trashes the NFL and the Super Bowl, it’s because they view these objects as having been tarnished by Swift, girlhood’s coat of arms. Worried about their own lack of influence—and declining cultural power—conservatives have invented a vast conspiracy that suggests that the real reason for their irrelevance is the Pentagon. Swift’s fans are being duped, in this version—they are victims of a sinister effort to feminize every facet of American culture.
“Pop music? It’s for girls. Social media? It’s for girls. Democrats? Girls. Taylor Swift? Girls and also a government psyop,” writes Ryan Broderick in a recent newsletter describing the far right’s dismissal of “feminine” cultural objects. “But this line of thinking has no limit. It poisons everything. If Swift manages to make it to the Super Bowl, well, that has to become feminine too. And at a certain point, the whole thing falls apart because, honestly, you just sound like an insane loser,” he added.