In Taylor Swift’s Miss Americana, the new Netflix documentary about her life, she talks a lot about the ethos of being a country-music star. Namely that country-music stars are meant to smile and sing their songs and not push their political beliefs onto audiences or fans. The notion of the “good girl” gets bandied around quite a bit. She talks about the Dixie Chicks’ — who appear on the haunting “Soon You’ll Get Better” from Swift’s Lover — fall from grace after they spoke out about being ashamed to share a home state with George W. Bush. You don’t want to be like the Dixie Chicks, Swift says she was constantly warned. “And I loved the Dixie Chicks,” Swift says in the film.
But in 2018, Taylor Swift broke rank. While she didn’t go full-on Natalie Maines, she did post an Instagram endorsing two Democratic candidates in Tennessee. In the documentary, we get to see Swift work through that decision. She sits in a room with several men and her mother, while she, tearfully, explains what she needs to do. The Republican Senate incumbent, Marsha Blackburn, is running on a platform of “Tennessee Christian values” and Swift, as both a Tennessee resident and a Christian, says she cannot simply sit silently and let Blackburn spew hate. (A particular sticking point for Swift was that Blackburn had voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, which, among other things, has language surrounding stalking, something Swift is all too familiar with.) The conversation goes back and forth, with Swift’s mother, Andrea, sitting beside her daughter on the couch asking that these dudes just please listen to what Taylor is saying.
Bing Crosby and Bob Hope never got political, Swift is told. (She notes that the Republicans of Crosby and Hope’s era were a markedly different bunch than those in the Trump era.) One of the men, whom Swift reveals to be her father, mentions having bought armored cars to keep Swift safe. He is apparently concerned that adding politics into the mix could make things worse for her. Andrea quickly points out that she likely worries about her daughter’s safety more than anybody and she’s still onboard with Taylor’s decision to speak up.
You already know who wins the fight. Later in Miss Americana, we see Swift and her mom on a different couch. They’re drinking wine and joined by Tree Paine, the mastermind behind Swift’s PR. Swift is clutching her phone, getting ready to post the post that will, hopefully, set the record straight that she is, in fact, not a crypto-fascist or a secret white supremacist. That her silence on political matters was never meant to be a tacit endorsement of the right. “I need to be on the right side of history,” Swift puts it in the doc.