Over the past year or so, a minor tradition in cultural commentary has been the crusade of left-leaning media pundits to assail Taylor Swift for not “speaking out” against Donald Trump: See here, here, here, and here. Throughout the 2016 election, Swift maintained a publicly neutral stance between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. In the aftermath of the “Women’s March,” the outrage Wurlitzer is revving up again. Swift put out a bland tweet expressing her “love, pride, and respect for those who marched” but did not otherwise participate in the march. For some in the anti-Trump “resistance,” silence is the equivalent of complicity in great evil. As a recent Daily Beast article proclaimed, “Cutesy sentiments and political palatability are no longer acceptable. If you’re not overtly on board with the resistance, then you’re tacitly chill with being proclaimed an Aryan goddess.”
While great political passions are certainly understandable, this kind of dynamic doesn’t seem healthy for our politics or our culture. A hyperpartisanship, in which all of life becomes a factional brawl, has been devouring more and more of our cultural oxygen. This kind of tribalism makes our politics much more difficult; the compromise our governing institutions are designed to encourage becomes harder to realize when you view your political rival as an existential foe. But it also poisons our broader culture. Culturally, we benefit from having spaces that are not torn by partisan warfare — where we can break bread, watch films, and read books with those whom we politically disagree.
While she has at times dabbled a little in cultural politics, Swift has by and large tried to stay away from partisan polarization. That might be good for her brand, but it’s also good for the general atmosphere of our culture to have at least some media figures who don’t embroil themselves in partisan feuds. Many of President Trump’s political enemies accuse him of being an existential threat to the republican norms of our country, but indulging in us-versus-them apocalypticism is itself a radical attack on the foundations of life in a free society.