Taylor Swift Exposed The GOP Freakshow By Being Normal
Maybe Republicans should wonder why all the attractive, likable people hate them?
I’m not a professional football fan or a Taylor Swift fan, but I’m hep enough to know that Taylor Swift, the most successful pop musician of our time, is dating Travis Kelce, a talented and charismatic professional tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs, who happens to be headed for the Super Bowl.
If you weren’t already aware of those things, there are a few normalish ways to react now that you are:
You can think of it as happy development for the two of them and their legions of fans.
You can simply not care about it at all, much as you don’t particularly care about the romantic lives of other strangers.
You can view it through a somewhat more cynical lens as something that by definition lacks the authenticity of anonymous love, because the lives of megastars are so public and heavily stage-managed.
I think a little bit of all these things: I’m happy for people who are happy; I don’t particularly care about their origin story or whether they stay together forever; and I think they’re probably beset by agents and consultants who want to milk their partnership for all it’s worth. If Taylor Swift fans start watching football, that’ll be great for the NFL; if NFL fans start listening to Taylor Swift music, her juggernaut will only grow.
But there’s nothing particularly novel about any of that. Brad Pitt, who’s a very attractive and successful actor, was at one point married to Jennifer Aniston, a very attractive and successful actress, before marrying Angelina Jolie, another attractive and successful actress. Jolie and Pitt even forged their relationship on the set of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, which was resoundingly mediocre but “mysteriously” grossed almost half-a-billion dollars at the box office.
At the highest echelons of the cultural elite, attractive people like Swift and Kelce meet and fall in love, just as at the highest echelons of the political elite, unattractive people like James Carville and Mary Matalin meet and fall in love. And then their relationships turn out to be good for business, too.
Maybe that’s a bit distasteful to you, and if so, fair enough. But if you’re a committed Republican, chances are you will soon become convinced that the United States (perhaps through the Department of Defense, or perhaps through a diffuse progressive cabal with reach into the government) arranged a relationship between Swift and Kelce, and rigged their recent professional successes, in order to help re-elect Joe Biden.
There are many things to say about this brewing GOP conspiracy theory, but the most important one is a warning—of the rot that will ultimately consume any party that organizes itself around scheming and rat fucking and propaganda to manipulate voters, in lieu of trying to be decent and likable.
JUST CALL IT A TAY
There’s nothing terribly interesting underlying this bizarre freakout. Swift has millions of devoted fans and is also a liberal who endorsed Biden in 2020. Since this year’s election is shaping up as a 2020 rematch, she’s likely to endorse Biden again. If that’s interesting for any reason it’s because it exposes the intentionality behind the Big Lie: The same propagandists who apparently fear Swift’s mobilizing powers also claim Trump won in 2020—if their “rigged election” conspiracy theories were sincerely held, they wouldn’t fear that Swift’s endorsement might make Biden unbeatable.
In some more deranged corners of the internet, Kelce’s pro-vaccine advocacy is also part of the plot. But instead of dwelling on any of that, let’s take a trip back to 2019, before Donald Trump’s first impeachment. It’s worth imagining how differently the 2020 election might have played out if Trump hadn’t been caught that summer and fall trying to extort Ukraine, and if President Volodymyr Zelensky had ultimately succumbed to Trump’s pressure. Trump would’ve been reeling from his coronavirus failures in 2020, when one day Zelensky or one of his advisers would’ve “revealed” that Joe Biden had meddled in Ukrainian civic affairs to enrich his son Hunter.