Taylor Swift, having wrecked country music, now wrecks politics

Was it really any surprise that Taylor Swift came out as a liberal?  The quaint country singer-turned-pop megastar endorsed two Tennessee Democrats for Congress: Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for the House of Representatives.  The endorsement was done through – what else? – Instagram, accompanied by a daguerreotype photograph of Swift in a plain plaid shirt looking pensively at the camera, as if she had dwelt long on her decision to speak out and decided that its importance trumped other professional considerations.

The seriousness is, comparatively speaking, understandable.  This is the first time Swift has gone explicitly political.  At the beginning of her career, it was rumored she supported Republicans.  But as her fame grew, and she upped sticks from rural Tennessee and wistful, folksy ballads to New York City and synth-heavy ditties about jilted love, it wasn't hard to see where her politics was going.

By endorsing Democrats, Swift joins the long and stupid tradition of celebrities opining on political affairs.  It was, at least for her, a risk-less move.  Few if any Swift fans will refuse to buy her songs off iTunes because she isn't a Donald Trump fan.  Meanwhile, liberal listeners have been begging for Swift to denounce the president for some time.  The Bredesen-Cooper nod will placate them temporarily, until, that is, another injustice requires a Swiftian reproof.

The whole business is as uninspiring as the canned melodies and prosy romantic themes that constitute the "Shake It Off" singer's radio-friendly oeuvre.  Swift is a political naïf.  Her first foray into advocacy is as unimaginative as you can get.  It's chock-full of the platitudinous pap that once filled Hillary Clinton's website.  Trite phrases like "the fight for LGBTQ rights" and "systemic racism" fill the sanctimonious jeremiad, which, most unsurprisingly, reads like a college freshman essay composed after a blithe browsing of a Jacques Derrida Tumblr fan page.

It's silly to expect any better.  The entertainment industry as a whole is cursed with a simplistic view of politics.  For singers, songwriters, musicians, actors, comedians, showrunners, producers, directors, models, reality TV stars, social media personalities, agents, and other Hollywood Hills notables, politics is a daft struggle between good and evil; in more Swiftian pop-culture patois, it is the liberal, caring "love wins" wizards and witches versus the reactionary, intolerant followers of Lord Voldemort.

This moral assuredness leads to many horribly trite opinions and the occasional combustion of righteous pretense.  In Swift's case, her endorsement was a blasphemy against two libel pieties.  First, she embraced Bredesen, a straight white male, over Marsha Blackburn, a woman.  To quote Swift herself, "there's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women."  She may want to add an addendum to void the rule when it comes to conservatives.

Second, Bredesen is perhaps the only Democrat candidate not named Joe Manchin in the country willing to support the supposed libidinous serial-rapist Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court.  The Senate hopeful lost oodles of outside group funding by not joining his fellow Democrats' Two Weeks Hate crusade against Kavanaugh.  Swift made him her guy.

Perhaps, once Bredesen loses, she'll pen her billionth ballad on how yet another man let her down and it's all his fault.

David Ricardo would have done us all a favor if, having discovered comparative advantage in the early 19th century, he warned entertainers to stick to their craft and not lope into the realm of politics.  But liberal democracy's ever expanding pool of franchise was destined to grant suffrage to even the dimmest of bulbs.  Now anyone with two thumbs and a Verizon account can spout off inane convictions for millions to see online, then act on those beliefs in the voter booth.

Swift, along with our mass celebrity culture, values the kind of participatory democracy that lets anyone vote his deepest held beliefs, no matter how illogical or injurious they are.  For these Pollyannaish Democrats, the act of voting is virtue in and of itself.

Hollywood isn't a total hothouse of civic ignorance, however.  Comedian Daniel Tosh recently took the opposite tack of Swift, reproaching his followers on Twitter thusly: "[I]'m encouraging all my fans to unregister to vote.  [Y]ou are dumb as s--- and do not deserve a say in this country."

James Madison couldn't have said it better (well, he did, just not as incisively).  Taylor Swift would do best to hang up Facebook and pick up a copy of the Federalist Papers before urging anyone else to vote.

Image: Eva Rinaldi via Flickr.