Taylor Swift breaks her political silence, and America erupts
Her support of Democratic candidates has the alt-right furious.
- Taylor Swift breaks her political silence by endorsing Tennessee Democratic candidates.
- Mistakenly believing her to be one of theirs up until now, the alt-right is furious.
- New voter registrations have spiked since her announcement.
In their heyday, The Beatles never told anyone how to vote, fearful as they were of their own power over their fan base. As one of their promoters put it, "Only Hitler ever duplicated their power over crowds." Such were the times that they felt safe keeping their views mostly to themselves, only occasionally implying them in song lyrics.
These are not those times, though, and The Beatles of today, Taylor Swift, this week stepped into the political fray by endorsing Democratic candidates for the Senate and House of Representatives candidates in her home state of Tennessee. She also strongly criticized the voting record of Republican Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn.
That Swift has spoken up in these troubled times confirms her image as an "All-American girl." The tweet in which she made her endorsement speaks eloquently in support of traditional American ideals.
I'm writing this post about the upcoming midterm elections on November 6th, in which I'll be voting in the state of Tennessee. In the past I've been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now. I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country. I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent.
I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love. Running for Senate in the state of Tennessee is a woman named Marsha Blackburn. As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives. Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values. For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100% on every issue, but we have to vote anyway.
So many intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people have turned 18 in the past two years and now have the right and privilege to make their vote count. But first you need to register, which is quick and easy to do. October 9th is the LAST DAY to register to vote in the state of TN. Go to vote.org and you can find all the info. Happy Voting! — Taylor Swift
Photo that accompanied Swift's tweet.
True to the times in which we live, the faction so out-of-step with traditional American ideals, the alt-right, exploded in rage. On the other hand, according to vote.org, new voter registrations since Swift's tweet have also exploded, with 65,000+ signups in just the first 24 hours after her tweet, demonstrating the powerful and emotional bond Swift maintains with her audience.
The fallout is a stunning collision of the power of hate and celebrity that so characterize today's U.S.A.
Nobody's Aryan princess
The alt-right movement has for several years believed the blonde, blue-eyed, Southern Swift to be their "Aryan princess." In the absence of a full-throated rejection from the pop star, their faith in Swift's presumed agreement with their radical views has become more and more entrenched over time.
Never mind that it began as a joke when a November 2011 4chan kitten-naming contest decided on a name Swift herself had chosen for her own feline. Additional "clues" supporting Swift's alleged alt-right leanings appeared over time, culminating in a neo-Nazi's article reposting a mashup of Hitler quotes over an image of Swift. His post was titled, "Aryan Goddess Taylor Swift: Nazi Avatar of the White European People."
One tweet describes Swift's recent endorsement as a "betrayal beyond words". On Reddit, things grew even darker, with one poster claiming, "Nobody pisses off 4chan. She will regret this move for that reason alone." Another informs her, "you just lost over half of your fanbase, including me." One alt-right commenter with a user name containing "taytay4ever" wondered, "Son of a bitch...how do I change usernames???"
Donald Trump defended Blackburn as a "tremendous woman," and shared his unique conception of math by telling supporters, "Let's say that I like Taylor's music about 25% less now."
There are performers and then there’s Taylor
Taylor Swift has a powerful and emotionally resonant relationship with her fans. Many, though by no means all, of her adorers are teenage girls who look to Swift for guidance in matters big and small during this charged time of life. From song lyrics to one-on-one fan surprises, Swift clearly works hard and reciprocates the adulation she receives. As she noted in her tweet, a sizable portion of her base has just come of voting age, and she clearly wanted to use her influence with them for positive change. That her reasons involved standing up for human rights and making clear that this includes various groups whose rights are in question these days fits in perfectly with her long-time message to fans. As Mary Mancini of vote.org tells Buzzfeed, "Having her come out and say this so publicly will make people sit up and say, ya know what, I'm not alone here."
According to Mancini, of the 5,183 new registrations in Tennessee so far this month, 2,144 were from the period following Swift's tweet. vote.org itself saw 155,940 unique visitors in the first post-tweet day, the largest group of visitors since National Voter Registration Day in September.
A gamble worth taking
Swift has really stepped up as a young American here, taking a real risk with her career and her personal safety to simply help her generation do what she feels is obviously right. That thousands are willingly following her guidance at the same time as others are demonizing her fits this American moment, sadly. To provide some light in this wilderness is why she spoke up.
To create wiser adults, add empathy to the school curriculum.
- Stories are at the heart of learning, writes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director for the Global Oneness Project. They have always challenged us to think beyond ourselves, expanding our experience and revealing deep truths.
- Vaughan-Lee explains 6 ways that storytelling can foster empathy and deliver powerful learning experiences.
- Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.
This is what the world will look like, 250 million years from now
To us humans, the shape and location of oceans and continents seems fixed. But that's only because our lives are so short.
The future of education and work will rely on teaching students deeper problem-solving skills.
- Asking kids 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' is a question that used to make sense, says Jaime Casap. But it not longer does; the nature of automation and artificial intelligence means future jobs are likely to shift and reform many times over.
- Instead, educators should foster a culture of problem solving. Ask children: What problem do you want to solve? And what talents or passions do you have that can be the avenues by which you solve it?
- "[T]he future of education starts on Monday and then Tuesday and then Wednesday and it's constant and consistent and it's always growing, always improving, and if we create that culture I think that would bring us a long way," Casap says.
These Jurassic predators resorted to cannibalism when hit with hard times, according to a deliciously rare discovery.
- Rare fossil evidence of dinosaur cannibalism among the Allosaurus has been discovered.
- Scientists analyzed dinosaur bones found in the Mygatt-Moore Quarry in western Colorado, paying special attention to bite marks that were present on 2,368 of the bones.
- It's likely that the predatory carnivore only ate their already-dead peers during times when resources were scarce.
As a doctor, I am reminded every day of the fragility of the human body, how closely mortality lurks just around the corner.