American culture has a habit of dismissing entertainers that use their status to promote political causes and ideologies. From Laura Ingraham telling LeBron James to “shut up and dribble” to Meryl Streep using her Golden Globes speech to speak out against President Donald Trump, celebrities are often criticized for using their platform to push their agendas on their adoring public. However, famous people have the right and even the responsibility to use their reach to promote the causes they feel strongly about. As election season gets in full swing, the power of individuals in using their influence for a worthy cause has brought real, tangible results.
On Oct. 7, Taylor Swift posted on Instagram to encourage people to register to vote in time for the upcoming Nov. 6 midterm elections. Swift has 112 million followers, and her post urging Americans to register to vote got over 2 million likes.
In the post, Swift specified her personal political views, saying she will vote “based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country,” denouncing all forms of discrimination. Swift even specified which candidates she will and will not vote for this midterm election.
“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,” Swift wrote in the caption of her Instagram post.
Swift’s call to action encouraged her fellow Tennessee citizens to register to vote before the Oct. 9 deadline by going to Vote.org for more information.
The New York Times reported that more than 166,000 people across the nation submitted requests to the voter registration website between Swift’s post on Oct. 7 and the Oct. 9 deadline — almost half of which fell in the 18-24 age range.
“We have never seen a 24- or 36- or 48-hour period like this,” Vote.org spokeswoman Kamari Guthrie told the New York Times. “This is leaps and bounds beyond what we typically see.”
In fact, Raven Brooks, Vote.org’s chief operating officer, credits Swift’s post to a huge influx of last-minute registration requests, especially in the state of Tennessee.
“The bottom line is that she did significantly impact registrations, and in interesting ways,” Brooks told the New York Times. “They are completely inverted from what we saw in 2016.”
Swift took a risk by publishing her political views on Instagram. She jeopardized losing a huge part of her fan base by publicizing her left-leaning ideologies. She opened herself up to public criticism for using her celebrity platform to push her own political beliefs. But in the end, she encouraged a huge section of the population to register to vote. Swift showed how big of an impact she could make for good — not for a Democratic agenda, but for the cause of increasing the number of citizens, and especially young people, to vote.
Although most of us don’t have millions of followers on Instagram like Swift does, we all have a platform we can use to promote good in the world. Although the deadline to register to vote has passed for many states, including Texas, some states like California and Colorado still have open registration even for absentee voters. Encourage your fellow Americans to vote this midterm election. Young people who may not feel their vote matters especially need to feel empowered to register. We all deserve a voice in the democratic process, but some of us might need a little extra push of encouragement.