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Friday, September 24, 2021

In today’s political climate, celebrities are more vocal about their political beliefs than ever before. It’s not uncommon to flick through a celebrity’s Instagram story and see them proclaiming their support or opposition to a position. You might even scroll past posts of one posing next to political candidates. Some believe that celebrities are getting “too political” or should “stay in their lanes.” However, is it really that much of an issue for celebrities to bring awareness to political issues? 

Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift told the Guardian on Friday that she is pro-choice and will be more involved in the 2020 election. Coming from an artist who has stayed virtually politically quiet for the vast majority of her career, this was major. But it’s also no surprise. Swift broke her political silence during last year’s midterm elections, when she voiced her support for two Democratic candidates and urged people to vote in an Instagram caption. “Educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values,” Swift wrote, “We may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100 percent on every issue, but we have to vote anyway.” Vote.org told Buzzfeed News that a whopping 65,000 registrations were made in just 24 hours. Swift’s increased political involvement is a step in the right direction. With a massive Instagram following of 121 million, she can substantially increase voter participation.

Celebrities have an immense influence on the population. Most importantly, they have an influence on the younger generation. It is a common complaint that youths don’t participate enough in politics. Well, celebrities getting involved in politics is one way to change that. Working in the entertainment industry does not restrict celebrities’ rights to free speech. Celebrities shouldn’t have to stay neutral just because of their job. Last time I checked, most people aren’t experts in politics but scream their views anyways. Nobody’s saying that people have to agree with celebrities’ political opinions, but they have the same rights as any American citizen to voice them.           

Swift has the right to say she’s pro-choice and design entire music performances around advocating for the Equality Act, the same way that Kanye West has the right to wear a MAGA hat and say slavery was a choice. Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, you should at least be able to agree that not enough is being done, not enough voices are being heard and not enough change is being made. It’s not a bad thing for a red, white and blue “I voted” sticker to become a celebrity’s favorite accessory on social media. If celebrity political endorsements encourage people to research what’s going on, that’s a win. Let celebrities form a trend. Do not fault them for using their influence to try to better this country. If it propels people to take action, then I welcome celebrity involvement in politics.   

Lauren Rousseau is a UF journalism sophomore. 

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