With Taylor Swift and Kanye West being the latest additions to the growing list of celebrities delving into the political arena, celebrities’ place in politics has once again come into question. Yet one thing remains clear: the real beneficiary is Donald Trump.
Having been consistently denounced for her political silence, both from fans online and from the mainstream media, Taylor Swift’s recent attack on the Republican Senate candidate for Tennessee, Marsha Blackburn, is unsurprising. Finally hammered into submission by the online mob, Swift dropped her admirable stance of presenting an apolitical front at a time when celebrity involvement in politics has been becoming increasingly common, expressing her concern regarding Blackburn’s “appalling and terrifying” conservative voting record.
Having been branded an “envoy for Trump’s values” by The Guardian, and even a “dog whistler for white supremacists” following her decision to remain silent during the 2016 Election, the reality is that had Taylor Swift not come out in support of Tennessee Governor and Democrat Phil Breseden, she would have left herself vulnerable to further accusations that she does not detest the Republican Party and all it represents.
The stage has been reached where it is no longer permissible for celebrities to refrain from political contribution. Rather, they must conform to the ideology of the left, or risk being besieged and alienated. Kanye West’s recent antics demonstrate the consequence of publicly holding an alternative political view. The singer’s shared possession of ‘dragon energy’ and subsequent meeting with President Donald Trump was perceived by some as a reflection of West’s struggles with mental illness. The contention that deference from mainstream liberalism is somewhat symptomatic of mental illness is as appalling as it is wildly inaccurate.
While political engagement is by no means something that should be shunned, but rather encouraged and embraced, the requirement of celebrities to conform to a certain type of politics sets a dangerous precedent and runs counter to the principles of traditional democratic debate based on mutual respect.
Ironically, the more celebrities that come out in support of the Democrats, the stronger the support gets for populists, particularly Donald Trump. The direct consequence of celebrities such as Taylor Swift bashing Republican candidates is to fire up the Trump support base, playing directly into the hands of those enthused by the idea that Trump is a man of the people, fighting back against the so-called elite. Phil Breseden’s collapse in the polls by as many as 14 points, just days after Swift threw her support behind the Democrat, is indicative of the effect celebrity involvement can have. So too is the fact that, despite almost all celebrities endorsing Hilary Clinton in the run up to the 2016 Election, Clinton failed to mobilise voters in key battleground areas.
The censoring of celebrity political opinion is by no means confined to mainstream celebrities, with prominent figures in other fields being similarly hounded to conform to the ideology of the leftist mob. Just as Taylor Swift succumbed to online pressures, so too didacclaimed astronaut Scott Kelly, forced into issuing a grovelling apology for quoting Sir Winston Churchill on social media. Once again, the tirade of targeted abuse forcing a high-profile figure to adopt a specific political position. The idea that one of the greatest leaders in modern time, the man who led Britain to victory in the Second World War and oversaw the defeat of the Nazis, cannot be quoted for fear of offending people is an absurdity.
The rise of political correctness and online execution of those who disregard it has inevitably resulted in celebrities being limited in what they can and cannot say. Given the vast majority of celebrities naturally lean to the left anyway, the culmination is a left-dominated culture industry. Yet, as the online mob continue to go about their censuring agenda, conservatives are firmly in the driving seat of federal government. With Donald Trump’s approval rating at 44%, up from 38% just one month ago. The true victors of such actions are arguably those the intimidators loathe so vehemently.