Next month, a zephyr of bipartisanship will blow through the nation’s capital. She will come swiftly. Now, all she has to do is stay.
CNN reported that congressional lawmakers and political action committees – about a dozen on the right and half a dozen on the left – will hold fundraisers at Taylor Swift’s July 13 and 14 concerts in Washington. A ticket for a dose of partisan teeny-bopping ranges from $750 to $2,500.
Swift has previously attracted the attention of political powerbrokers. Several legislators held fundraisers at her Washington concerts in 2010 and 2011. President Barack Obama (colorfully) stood up for the star, and used her to mock Republicans’ love-hate relationship with the sequester (“It’s like we’re trapped in a Taylor Swift album”). John Boehner’s team attacked the president’s community-college plan by employing GIFs of Swift.
In November, Geraldo Rivera tweeted that, “Sensible competent talented & unbiased Taylor Swift could do a better job of running the national government” than Obama or Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. This year, Swift has already graced Fortune’s “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” list and Forbes’ slate of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.”
Musically, Swift has much to offer both conservative country devotees and liberal pop enthusiasts. Politically, she is uncontroversial, striking a chord with Republicans without offending Democrats. “I don’t talk about politics because it might influence other people,”she told Time in 2012. Before last year’s midterm elections, Facebookfound that she was “liked” by supporters of candidates on both sides of the aisle. Heartbreak crosses party lines.
What should Swift do with this uncanny capacity to unite? Run for president.
A 2016 run would pose some constitutional barriers (over which even her lengthy legs could not hop). But inauguration 2025 is around the corner, falling five and half weeks after T- Swift turns the requisite age of 35. And she certainly seems to have a hold on those coveted next-generation voters.
Still, a decade is a long time in politics. Even assuming that Swift’s cultural dominance is eternal, will she be able to maintain her left-right equipoise? The singer has been abandoning her red-state country roots and plunging deeper into the pop world. (“If you chase two rabbits, you lose them both,” she said.)
She’s also choosing sides. Back in 2012, she shied away from feminism. (“I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls.”) But in a recent interview featured with her No. 1 spot on Maxim’s 2015 “Hot 100” list, Swift said that “feminism is probably the most important movement that you could embrace.” Last summer, she gave credit to “Girls” star Lena Dunham for prompting her to recognize that she’s “been taking a feminist stance without actually saying so.”
Swift’s friendship with Dunham, among the most polarizing of young celebrities and an ardent Hillary Clinton supporter, is a political liability in and of itself. Writing for The Federalist, Heather Wilhelm(who confesses that she “kind of” loves Swift) does not look kindly on the “brand of feminism” that Swift is dabbling in, while allowing that the singer is “still young, with plenty of time to pull the nose up on this particularly disastrous flight from reason.”
“Disastrous flight from reason” is catchy, though not very bipartisan. But Swift seems to have a preternatural ability to combine unmixable elements and succeed on her own terms – to put both of those pesky rabbits on a short leash. She has moved to New York and gotten sexier, but without losing her country- girl sweetness. There’s no indication that she needs to choose between being an opinionated hottie and your awkward BFF, in part because she manages her persona so expertly that she doesn’t even appear to have one.
If there’s any young woman in America who can become more political without becoming more polarizing, it may just be Swift. As for campaign slogans… Taylor Swift can get us out of the partisan woods. She can turn the Middle East nightmare into a daydream. She can make political sparks fly. And, of course, she can write our nation’s song.
Welcome to Washington, Taylor. It’s been waiting for you.
Zara Kessler is an editor for Bloomberg View