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  • Writer's pictureSharon Chau

2024 Election Psy-op (Taylor’s Version)


This article was published in The Oxford Student as part of my 'Womansplaining' column.


Ever since the beginning of Taylor Swift’s high-profile relationship with Kansas City Chief star Travis Kelce, all eyes have been on America’s most popular power couple and their love story. But not everyone is rooting for them. The bad blood between Taylor Swift and the political right has been evident ever since her endorsement of Joe Biden in the 2020 election; her recent relationship has since given birth to a ridiculous conspiracy theory, upgrading Taylor’s status from ‘Anti-Hero’ to full-blown ‘Mastermind’.


Right-wing influencers and politicians, both mainstream and fringe, have argued that Swift and Kelce’s relationship is fake, and their immense popularity is part of a secret left-wing plot against Donald Trump’s bid for the White House. In return for rigging the Super Bowl in favour of Kelce’s Kansas City Chiefs, or so the rumour goes, the couple will endorse incumbent president Joe Biden for re-election and manipulate their contingent of fans into voting for him. Conspiracy theorists have even gone so far as to call this a ‘psy-op’, or ‘psychological operation’, coordinated by the Pentagon (a metonym for the U.S.’s Department of Defense) to influence public opinion.


This theory was first floated when a former FBI agent said that the Democrats would like Taylor Swift’s support. Right-wing news networks pounced on this, with the prominent Fox News airing a segment arguing that Swift’s skyrocketing popularity has been meticulously orchestrated over the past four years, just so she could become a Pentagon ‘asset’ to be used for the 2024 presidential election. Former Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy also fanned the flames with a cryptic tweet. He wrote, ‘I wonder who’s going to win the Super Bowl next month. And I wonder if there’s a major presidential endorsement coming from an artificially culturally propped-up couple this fall’. 


Other right-wing political and media figures, including political activist Laura Loomer, One America News Network host Alison Steinberg, conservative commentator Mike Crispi, and influential right-wing conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec, have amplified such allegations. Donald Trump, never one to miss out on a chance to rile up his MAGA fanbase, has also weighed in, saying there is no way Taylor Swift could endorse ‘Crooked Joe Biden’ and be ‘disloyal’ to himself, given he had passed the Music Modernisation Act which benefits her and other artists. 


This reflects the fear on the political right that Taylor Swift’s tremendous star power could tip the American presidential election in favour of the Democrats. As the top artist on Spotify, Time’s 2023 Person of the Year, and the only ever artist to win Album of the Year for the fourth time at the Grammys, Swift is indeed a force to be reckoned with. She also has an enormous fanbase, with an SSRS poll conducted in October 2023 finding that around 6 out of 10 American adults identified as at least her ‘casual fans’, with 8% identifying as ‘big fans’. And no wonder — her lyrical prowess and ability to write songs for an insane range of genres (her hugely anticipated new album, The Tortured Poets Department, has been allegedly listed as synth pop), has led to millions of devoted Swifties worldwide.


On top of such enormous influence, Taylor Swift also has a history of political participation. Back in 2018, she spoke out endorsing Democrats in the midterm elections in Tennessee. In 2020, she similarly endorsed Joe Biden and warned Trump, who was president at the time, that ‘We will vote you out.’ After her Biden endorsement, Swift posted a short message on her Instagram account in September 2020, encouraging her 272 million followers to register to vote; the post led to more than 35,000 registrations on the nonpartisan nonprofit Vote.org.


Given all this, it’s understandable why Republicans are majorly stressed about Taylor Swift potentially speaking out in favour of Biden. But they Need To Calm Down. She has been much less outspoken in politics since 2020, having avoided criticising the incumbent Biden government on issues such as Ukraine and Palestine, against which many other artists have spoken out. Moreover, affirming a clear stance in the upcoming election may not be economically rational for her, especially given her base in country music, the quintessential Republican genre. With the recent Super Bowl win confirming half of the psy-op conspiracy theory, it suffices to say that Taylor Swift is not out of the woods yet. She may have been able to shake it off thus far, but she might be reluctant to speak now in support of Biden.


Ultimately, haters gonna hate. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect a conspiracy theory about Taylor Swift rigging the upcoming American presidential election, but everything has changed — sadly, the right-wing propaganda machine is forever & always going to churn out conspiracy theories. Here’s to hoping this Travis-ty can be Swift-ly resolved.


Good luck finding the 14 Taylor Swift-related puns! Xxx

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